Government & Constitution

Empire State gun owners bracing for Cuomo’s confiscation scheme

Empire State gun owners bracing for Cuomo's confiscation scheme
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (AP photo)

New Yorkers gauge registration and confiscation of firearms in the aftermath of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s landmark gun control law, the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013.

“The next relevant deadline is April 16, 2014 the date the people are supposed to have their long arms registered,” said Assemblyman William R. Nojay (R. – Pittsford).

The registration system is in place and firearm owners can register today, he said.

Low compliance rates will put the governor in an interesting position especially in an election year, said Nojay. “I think registration rates are going to be less than 10 percent.”

County clerks, district attorneys, county sheriffs and local law enforcement do not want to enforce the S.A.F.E. Act which is now the governor’s law, he said. “They regard it as having nothing to do with law enforcement, it will not prevent crime, it will not prevent tragedy, it is a law of pure politics and they don’t want to have anything to do with it.”

Cuomo is telling people he will enforce the law, he said. “This governor walks into every room looking for a fight and if he can’t find one he’ll start one.”

“This is a constitutional crisis in the making,” he said. “The question is: Will the governor start pounding the table to force them to be the enforcer.”

Cuomo is up for re-election in 2014, said Nojay. “State-wide opinion of Cuomo relative to the S.A.F.E. act will determine how aggressive he becomes about using the state police to enforce the law.”

Joseph A. D’Amico, superintendent of the New York State Police since 2011, is not a trooper himself and is in his position to be the governor’s enforcer, he said. “That creates tensions within the state’s police department.”

Nojay said D’Amico is a problem.

“We receive lots of reports of deep, bitter resentment against the superintendent,” said the attorney and radio talk show host.

D’Amico is not respected and not liked, he said. “He is regarded as a political hack rather than a law enforcement professional.”

“I don’t think Cuomo will confiscate firearms as long as we stay vigilant and vocal,” said Assemblyman Dr. Stephen M. Katz (R. – Mohegan Lake).

Cuomo who has aspirations to be elected president in 2016 already knows the S.A.F.E. Act has hurt his chances, he said. “His absolutely irresponsible behavior regarding the S.A.F.E. Act has him ridiculed around the country.”

Coming into the governor’s re-election campaign next year, Katz said the fact that the GOP has yet to come-up with a viable candidate is one problem; another issue is the lack of gun owner representation at the voting booth. “Twenty-percent of sportsman and hunters did not go out and vote in the last gubernatorial election.”

It is incumbent upon supporters of the Second Amendment to vote and get people out to vote, he said.   “Because otherwise we will be overwhelmed by the residents of New York City, and we all know how they are going to vote.”

Katz said there are provisions in the S.A.F.E. Act that authorize unfair protections for ambiguous groups. For example, he said the law enhances the penalty of killing a “first responder” to a sentence of life in jail without parole. “The law does not define first responders and the term is too broad.”

Another example of inequitable provisions is the amendment to the S.A.F.E. Act that carved-out an exception for retired police officers, he said. “Why should it be that way? Why are we as citizens prevented from defending ourselves in the same way a retired police officer can?”

The S.A.F.E. Act is a poorly-written piece of legislation by a governor who is a bully and a legislature who are cowards, he said. “The law is 50 percent benevolence and 50 percent incompetence which is what we see from the Cuomo administration more than anything else.”

“The New York City Police Department issued a directive to commence confiscation of firearms,” said Thomas H. King, president of the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association. NYSRPA is the state’s largest and the nation’s oldest firearms advocacy organization.

The NYPD have been collecting records on gun owners ever since Raymond Walter “Ray” Kelly was appointed commissioner in 2002, he said. “The recent confiscation directive comes directly from One Police Plaza – which Kelly operates.”

NYSRP initiated two lawsuits this year; one in New York City that questions whether the city’s pistol licensing procedures violate the Second Amendment; and one in U.S. District Court, Western District of New York that asserts violations against the passage and enforcement of the S.A.F.E. Act which is pending before Judge William M. Skretny.

It is difficult to be successful in any lawsuit in New York City because of “Home Rule”, said King who is a National Rifle Association board member. “For the past 20-years New York City lawmakers have had the legislative power to write their own laws to make existing law more restrictive, as long as it does not contravene state law.”

In the case of the S.A.F.E. Act, he said the city council reduced the ammunition capacity from a minimum of seven-rounds to five-rounds. “Nothing can be done in court to change this until the S.A.F.E. Act is overturned.”

The city’s restriction will have untold ramifications, said King. “There are a number of antique guns, for example, the Winchester level-action rifles would be illegal unless modified and ruined in value or sold out-of-state.”

King said downstate voters are not committed to gun rights.

“New York City – who holds the preponderance of the electorate, is doing their best to write all the laws.”

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