An excerpt from today’s Morning Memo:

Ultimately, it will fall to the state’s legal defender – Attorney General Eric Schneiderman – to defend the SAFE Act in court.

That’s ironic, since Schneiderman is a long-time gun control advocate who championed a microstamping bill while serving in the state Senate and was a founding member in 2009 of state Legislators Against Illegal Guns – an offshoot of Mayor Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns group.

But as AG, Schneiderman has also managed to work collaboratively with gun show operators, announcing earlier this month that 23 of them across the state had signed on to model procedures to close the so-called gun show loophole and ensure background checks are performed on all private firearms sales.

I caught up with Schneiderman at Somos el Futuro this weekend. (He sponsored a pre-gala reception along with state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli). I was curious whether the imminent modifications to the SAFE Act will make it more difficult to defend in court, since these changes tacitly acknowledged the original product was flawed and perhaps rushed into place.

His short answer: No.

His long answer:

“We have several different lawsuits challenging the SAFE Act. I’m very confident that we’ll prevail.

I defended New York’s last set of gun laws and our requirement that you have to show special purpose to get a concealed carry permit, which is unusual.

We defended that successfully, we’ll defend this one successfully.

The modifications are really very minor. Nothing have anything to do with the constitutionality. Look, New Yorkers deserve a safe set of procedures to ensure that people who have criminal backgrounds or mental health issues don’t get guns. That we’re not selling guns that are unnecessary for any sporting or target shooting purpose.

The SAFE Act is really the strongest and most comprehensive law in the country and I’m confident that it complies with every constitutional standard.

…process issues don’t effect the constitutionality and legitimacy of a law. There will be some minor modifications, but the law is going to stay 99 percent in tact. We will defend it. New York will be a safer state.”

Schneiderman insisted the SAFE Act is a “good, smart, comprehensive” law that should serve as an impetus to get Congress to act at the federal level to streamline the gun control effort.

He did allow, however, that the rapid passage of the Act had created a sense of “fear” among gun owners that they are under siege and being turned from law abiding members of society into criminal – especially if they refuse, as many have said they will, to register any weapon that is newly classified as illegal.

“That’s not what’s in the law,” Schneiderman said. “There is a little bit of fear and that is one of the problems when you rush something through.”

“It did happen very quickly. But that doesn’t effect the constitutionality and that doesn’t effect the merits. This is a good comprehensive law. We’ll defend it in court. I’m confident we’ll prevail.”

Schneiderman isn’t the only staunch gun control advocate admitting that perhaps Cuomo was a wee bit overzealous in his desire to be the first in the nation after Newtown to further restrict access to firearms.

Last week, Bloomberg – who just today started bankrolling a $12 million national advertising campaign in 13 states that focuses on US senators who he believes might be persuaded to support a pending package of federal regulations to curb gun violence – said complaints that Cuomo rushed the SAFE Act, resulting in a flawed law, are “legitimate.”

“…If they had taken a few more days to read and let some people who might have other information, at least, even if not other ideas, give some input, they could have fixed some of this stuff,” Bloomberg said on his weekly radio show with WOR’s John Gambling.

“And they would say, ‘Look, pass the bill. You can come back and fix it. It may look embarrassing in the paper but so what.’ And there’s something to be said for that. I guess I might have tried to take a few more days, but I certainly shouldn’t second-guess the governor.”

This probably did very little to improve the often rocky relationship with Bloomberg and Cuomo. And an anonymous Cuomo source retaliated at the mayor via Fred Dicker’s column this morning, saying:

“Much of what’s in the law was drafted by people connected to Mayor Bloomberg and the Brady Center, not by the governor’s staff. That’s why there are so many problems with it.”

Another interesting, though only marginally related tidbit from this morning’s headlines: Schneiderman has hired a new chief of staff to replace Neal Kwatra, who departed the public payroll to hang out his own political consulting shingle last month.

Kwatra’s replacement is Micah Lasher, who just so happens to be Bloomberg’s former Albany lobbyist – and someone who clashed frequently with the Cuomo administration, not to mention organized labor.

That’s an interesting choice for the AG, who is loved by labor and viewed as the lefty counterpoint to Cuomo. He’s also often battling behind the scenes with the Cuomo administration, even as he defends its policies – like, say, the SAFE Act – in court.

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