Gun control

Erie County Legislators Ask For Pistol Permit Recertification Extension

The Republican minority in the Erie County Legislature introduced a resolution Wednesday, asking Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-NY, to extend the deadline for gun owners to recertify their pistol permits. Under the SAFE Act, anybody with a permit that is five years old or more is required to recertify by January 31.

County legislators said as of the beginning of the month, only 21,549 of roughly 50,000 affected Erie County permits had been renewed.

“Because of the volume of permits to be renewed, additional time is needed to allow everyone the opportunity to fulfill this NYS requirement. The residents of Erie County deserve ample time to accomplish this,”  Legislator John Mills said.

In the meantime, they said they’ve organized a series of recertification outreaches with the County Clerk’s office to help permit holders through the process. Legislator Ed Rath said many people are just learning about the requirement.

“We shouldn’t be punishing lawful firearm owners,” he said. “This is a request for an extension so that people have more time to go through the appropriate recertification process. I hope Governor Cuomo will listen to the elected officials and residents from across the state who’ve asked for more time to make sure everyone gets properly recertified.”

State Assemblyman David DiPietro, R-East Aurora, introduced legislation Tuesday to extend the deadline for at least six months to a year. He was not particularly optimistic about its chance of passage.

Miner: Loose Gun Laws In Other States Impact NY

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner on Wednesday said the state’s gun control laws do little prevent illegal weapons flowing into New York.

“The reality is we do have very strict gun control laws, but all around us we’re surrounding by states that don’t,” she told reporters in Syracuse on Wednesday at a promotions ceremony for law enforcement.

Miner’s comments come several days after a man killed 58 people, and himself, in a mass shooting in Las Vegas. Her comments are similar to the stance Gov. Andrew Cuomo has held that New York’s gun laws — including the SAFE Act — can’t regulate firearms in other states, leading to a need for federal legislation, he has argued.

Miner is considering a potential challenge to Cuomo in a Democratic primary next year.

“They’re most often coming from places that don’t have strict gun control laws,” she added. “Just having New York state having a strong law is not going to help. This is an issue of people bringing guns back and forth across state borders all the time.”

Slaughter Opposed To Collins SAFE Act Repeal Bill

From the Morning Memo:

Veteran Rep. Louise Slaughter isnt’t giving much consideration to her colleague Chris Collins’s plan to repeal a portion of New York’s SAFE Act through federal legislation.

“I would be extremely surprised to see any action on that in Washington,” she told reporters Tuesday in Rochester.

Even if the bill, which would negate shotgun and rifle requirements for hunters, did gain support in the U.S. House, Slaughter is convinced it wouldn’t pass Constitutional muster with regards to the Tenth Amendment.

“I know the SAFE Act has withstood several constitutional questions in state courts. It is a state law and no matter what Collins wants to do, he cannot amend that state law or do away with it,” she said.

Slaughter made a point to say she grew up with a family of hunters in Kentucky. She said she has no intention of “taking anybody’s guns away” but has concerns about the bill opening the door for Congress to pass detrimental legislation that leads to unfit people ending up with guns in their hands. She said she doesn’t believe the House would do that.

“When you’re afraid that your children go to school in the morning, you may not see them again, or if your family goes to an event of some sort, that some awful thing will happen to them, we don’t need to live like that,” she said.

Congressional Candidate Counters Campaign Claims With Photos

plumb-gunThe John Plumb for Congress campaign is responding with visual aides to claims the candidate is not an advocate for gun rights. Thursday, Rep. Tom Reed, R-NY 23rd District, attacked the Democrat Plumb for failing to fill out the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund’s candidate questionnaire.

When I reached out to the Navy Reserve commander’s campaign spokesperson, he immediately sent me a photo of Plumb in hunting garb holding a camouflage shotgun.

“Does this photo, of someone who has been in the military for 20-plus years, look like they don’t support the Second Amendment?” communications director Samuel Newton asked.

Newton eventually got back to me with a written statement from the candidate and two more photos of Plumb firing a semi-automatic rifle and a handgun.

“I grew up here in the Southern Tier, and I’m a proud hunter and lifelong military man. I will defend the right of responsible New Yorkers to own guns, which is Constitutionally guaranteed and part of our way of life,” Plumb said.

He went on to say that Reed is intentionally misleading voters and falsely attributed a made-up quote to him at the Yates County SCOPE (Shooters Committee On Political Education) pig roast this summer.

Schneiderman: ‘In Orlando, A Bad Guy Got The Gun Because They Have Lax Laws.’

In Buffalo Thursday, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, D, pointed to the Orlando, Fla. mass shooting as an example of exactly why New York state passed the SAFE Act. He said the AR-15, gunman Omar Mateen bought legally in Florida and used to murder dozens of people, can’t be purchased in New York.

“In Orlando a bad guy got the gun because they have lax laws.” he said.

Schneiderman held the press conference just days after announcing the largest gun bust in the state since the gun control legislation was passed in 2013. He said state police have seized the majority of more than 100 illegal guns sold by a Rochester-area gun shop.

“We don’t know how many lives we’ve saved by getting these guns off the streets but we know that we’ll do everything that we possibly can in my office, working with our colleagues in government to ensure that nothing like Orlando happens in the state of New York,” he said.

The main defendant is former shop owner Kordell Jackson, who has been an outspoken critic of the SAFE Act. Jackson closed his shop in January 2015 because he said the legislation was too restrictive for his business to continue to be viable in New York.

At his court appearance Tuesday, Jackson’s attorney said the law was not intended to target people like his client.

“I think no one ever contemplated that someone who was licensed by the ATF, monitored by the state, who had over half of his customers law enforcement, either active or retired law enforcement people purchasing from him, would be in a situation like this now,” defense attorney Paul Ciminelli said.

“These people feigned ignorance,” Schneiderman said. “They said, well we’re confused by the SAFE Act but then witnesses were able to report that they knew in great detail what the SAFE Act required, what features of guns had to be changed before they could be sold.”

While applauding his state partners, the AG also criticized the federal government for making his life harder. He said because federal laws are weak, illegal guns are bought in other states and brought into New York.

“This really is a problem where our federal government is worse than the American people deserve,” he said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo Addresses Orlando And S.A.F.E. Act Charges In Rochester

A day after Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced his office had charged three Rochester-area men for selling more than 100 assault rifles, which are illegal under New York’s S.A.F.E. Act, Gov. Andrew Cuomo once again spoke highly of the gun control laws Wednesday.

“There are always people who violate the law, but at least we now have a law that bans assault rifles in the state of New York,” he said.

Cuomo said the S.A.F.E. Act was passed primarily to address these kinds of weapons. He said, while he’s a shotgun owner himself, he sees no reason for anybody to have a gun capable of rattling off numerous rounds in a matter of seconds.

“You don’t go hunting with 40 bullets. That’s the way it’s always been. These assault weapons were weapons that were designed by the military and have a tremendous killing capacity,” he said.

The governor said the federal government needs to follow New York’s lead in banning assault rifles. Following this month’s mass shooting in Orlando, Fla., the U.S. Senate brought up but failed to pass four different bills addressing gun control.

“How many incidents do we need where you see people who just should not have a gun have found easy access to an assault weapon that has given them a tremendous capacity to kill,” Cuomo said.

New Yorkers Against Violence Releases Score Cards

A plurality of state lawmakers in the Democratic-led Assembly and Republican-controlled Senate have received “above average” distinctions from the gun control group, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence.

The group on Tuesday released its legislative score cards for the 213 members of the Legislature on Tuesday, using three measurements: Their vote on the 2013 SAFE Act, the unsuccessful effort in 2015 to repeal it in the Senate and whether the lawmaker is a sponsor of a safe-storage bill, known as Nicholas’s Law.

In the Assembly, 44 legislators were given “fail” grades; 20 given a news improvement and 78 were rated above average.

In the 63-member Senate, 23 lawmakers received a “fail” while nine were rated needs improvement. Two were rated average, while 27 were rated above average.

The full rankings can be found here.

“At the end of the 2016 legislative session and after last week’s massacre in Orlando, it is important that voters know where their legislators stand on gun safety. The 2013 SAFE Act strengthened New York’s gun laws by closing the private sale loophole and toughening the assault weapons ban. These are common sense laws that need to be passed by Congress if we are to begin to address our national epidemic of gun violence.”

The rankings come just over a week after a man who says he was inspired by the Islamic State shot 49 people to death at an Orlando night club.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has focused in recent months on pushing Congress to adopt tougher gun control laws, saying states with looser measures in place have resulted in illegal weapons coming into New York.

Schumer ‘Open To Compromise’ On Gun Control Proposals

This evening the U.S. Senate will consider several proposals aimed at addressing gun violence. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York) has openly supported Democratic bills including one that expands the background check requirement to gun shows and online purchases and another that would stop anyone who’s been on the federal terrorism watch list in the past five years from purchasing a gun.

“I’m hopeful we can get this passed tonight and there are some people working on a compromise. I’m open to a compromise. As long as it doesn’t let the terrorists get guns, I’m willing to look at any way to do it,” Schumer said in Rochester Monday.

The senator said while he has great respect for the “spectrum of views” on gun control, he believes it’s clear people under suspicion of terrorism should not be able to purchase firearms.

“We’re in a new world. We’ve seen that with Orlando. We’ve seen that with San Bernadino. These lone wolves, these are disaffected people and ISIS preys on their mind and then tells them on their own to just go out and kill people and the easiest quickest way for them to kill a lot of people is with guns,” he said.

Schumer also doesn’t believe the proposals are unconstitutional. He points out there are already restrictions for felons, people convicted of spousal abuse and the mentally ill.

“Every amendment has reasonable limitations and it seems the most reasonable of all is to say a terrorist shouldn’t get a gun, would-be terrorist,” he said.

Bill Would Spur Gun Violence Research Paid For By Gun Owners

A new bill that would establish a Gun Violence Research Fund would be paid for by gun owners themselves.

The bill from State Senator Brad Hoylman would add an additional $5 fee on top of each gun sale. That $5 would be collected from vendors, reported, and added to the Gun Violence Research Fund.

The fund would be managed by the state, with money going to the Department of Health and the State University of New York. They would use the fund to award grants for research on gun violence and how to prevent gun-related deaths.

In the sponsor’s memo, Hoylman says the fund would be established to make progress where the federal government has fallen short. Congress has not allocated significant funding toward gun violence research in more than a decade.

Hoylman compares gun deaths to fatal car accidents in his memo, saying Congress has allocated money to research car safety, but not gun violence.

The fund would not request any additional money from the state budget, only the amount collected from gun owners. The bill was has also been introduced in the Assembly by Assemblyman Matt Titone.

Gia Arnold Makes First Court Appearance Over SAFE Act Charges

Gia Arnold, a former candidate for state senate, had her first court appearance today in Niagara Falls for charges relating to the SAFE Act.

Arnold was arrested last week with 18-year-old Halim Johnson during a traffic stop in which police found the pair in possession of a weapon that allegedly violated the SAFE Act. Arnold was also charged with public obstruction after police say she tried to speak with Johnson during the stop.

In court today, Arnold’s attorney argued that both charges be thrown out. James Ostrowski, a Buffalo-area attorney, is representing Arnold.

“There was no indication in the allegations that it was an assault weapon,” Ostrowski said, referring to one of the two guns found in the vehicle. Police said last week they found an AR-15 rifle, a magazine for that gun, an additional handgun, and a combat knife during the traffic stop.

As for the obstruction charge, Ostrowski told reporters after court that Arnold was not acting illegally when she spoke during the stop. Police said last week that she was trying to speak to Johnson during the stop, but Ostrowski says Arnold is charged for speaking to the police while they are trying to speak to Johnson.

“She’s charged with speaking to the police and that’s protected speech under the first amendment. It’s not obstruction. It’s just not,” Ostrowski said. “You can talk to the police in America – until further notice, I guess.”

Opponents of the SAFE Act were also at the court appearance to support Arnold. One man was wearing a black T-shirt that read ‘REPEAL NY’S S.A.F.E. ACT’.

When asked by reporters what he thought of the case, he simply responded “Yeah, honor the second amendment.” He did not respond to additional requests for an interview.

“There’s interest in the case from people who oppose the SAFE Act, who believe it’s unconstitutional, as do I,” Ostrowski said, referring to the guests. “But I’m not going to comment any further.”

Arnold is out of jail on $1,500 cash bail, which was lowered from an initial $5,000.