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SAFE Act Tag

The NRA has been under assault from liberal politicians and political groups for decades. But those attacks have intensified after the Parkland school shooting. Student David Hogg, backed by powerful groups like Media Matters, launched a campaign to pressure companies to sever membership discount programs with the NRA. That campaign was largely successful, but it did not stop there.

New York's unpopular SAFE Act takes another hit this week as Cuomo suspends a plan to require background checks for the purchase of ammunition.  The New York Times reports:

The decision, which the administration did not publicize, was the result of an unusual deal the governor’s office reached with the State Senate’s Republican majority. The Senate’s Democratic minority and the speaker of the State Assembly condemned the move.

The background-check system was approved as part of the Safe Act, the set of tough gun control measures that Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, persuaded lawmakers to pass in January 2013, shortly after the mass school shooting in Newtown, Conn.

Apparently, the suspension is based on the lack of an acceptable database:

On Friday, a top aide to Mr. Cuomo signed a memorandum of understanding suspending the portion of the Safe Act related to the background checks. The memorandum, citing “the lack of adequate technology,” said the database “cannot be established and/or function in the manner originally intended at this time.”

After New York State passed the "SAFE Act" gun control law, there were fears that Remington Arms, a major employer in the economically depressed upstate area would leave. Slowly, that appears to be happening.  First, Remington announced it was opening a plant in Alabama, for future expansion.  But politicians assured us that the jobs in Upstate were safe. Now we learn that Remington is moving two production lines out of New York to Alabama, and the jobs are going with them. The Buffalo News reports...
Remington to move production of two gun lines from New York to Alabama Nearly 200 years after Eliphalet Remington II forged his first rifle in Ilion, residents of the small central New York village are getting the bad news they have feared for more than a year: Remington Arms is moving production of two of its gun lines to Alabama. While the company did not announce the outright closing of the facility that has been home to Remington since 1816, gun rights advocates said that day is now likely moving closer and they blame the state’s 2013 NY SAFE Act gun control law. “This could very well be the beginning of the end of Ilion,’’ said Tom King, president of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, the state chapter for the National Rifle Association. is reporting that even if workers want to move, there's no guarantee they can keep their jobs...

Republican lawmakers created quite a stir earlier this week, when they complained to the New York Post that the recently passed budget contained secret funding for the SAFE Act. Two senators who wished to remain anonymous, told the Post that funds tagged for certain aspects of the SAFE Act were 'hidden' in the budget, and that they never would have voted in favor had they known. Meanwhile, several unnamed Assembly GOP lawmakers claimed that they had only found out about the funding at a state budget briefing. Nonsense. There's only three options here - they're either lying, flat-out admitting that they didn't review the budget prior to voting, or are trying to cover their 'yes' vote by alleging they didn't know what was in the budget. Numerous Republicans who had actually put their name on it, were openly debating SAFE Act funding in this year's budget.  Even a normally obedient media was pointing it out well in advance of budget debates. Via LoHud on February 7th, nearly two months before the budget passed:
Gov. Andrew Cuomo's $137.2 billion budget proposal includes an additional $3.2 million for personnel costs related to the SAFE Act, according to the head of the state police. Superintendent Joseph D'Amico told lawmakers at a budget hearing this week that the money will go toward hiring civilian employees to help with administrative duties related to the gun laws, including the processing of assault-weapon registrations and maintaining records.
On March 14th, Republican Assemblyman Steve Hawley issued a statement that read in part:

I saw the videotape below at Ace of Spades HQ, as well as at Hot Air, regarding a Detroit mother at home with her children when three men, at least one of whom was armed with a handgun, attempted to kick open the front back door. Fearing for her safety and that of her children, this mother used a rifle in self-defense. She didn't hit any of the intruders, but it was enough to scare them off initially, and again when one of them tried again to break in: Viewing the video, I wondered whether the rifle this mother used would be legal in New York State under the new SAFE Act, which was rushed through the NY State legislature on short notice after the Newtown, CT, school shooting. The SAFE Act was irrational in many respects, including a 7-round magazine limit that was unworkable and ultimately thrown out by the courts, a requirement that even 10-round magazines not be loaded with more than 7 bullets, and a definition of "Assault Weapon" that relied on physical characteristics that were cosmetic and common. The SAFE Act has led to a rebellion by upstate county legislatures, almost all of whom have voted to reject the SAFE Act. Even Martha Robertson, the liberal Emily's List-backed Democratic challenger in my home NY-23 congressional District, says she is against the SAFE Act. The criminalization of otherwise law-abiding people has led numerous Sheriffs and police unions to call for repeal, and to ignore violations for now. But the SAFE Act remains the law of NY. Would this Detroit mom who save herself and her family from the violence of the armed intruders herself be a criminal in NY because of her rifle? I didn't feel knowledgeable enough about weapons, so I turned to someone who does have that knowledge, Bob Owens, Editor of Bob explains in the text below, which he forwarded to me, that the rifle would be an illegal "Assault Weapon" under the SAFE Act, not available for new purchase and required to be registered by April 1 for those who owned it prior to the SAFE Act. In NY State, this mom would be a criminal because of cosmetic features of her rifle. Here is Bob's analysis:

NY-23, my home district, is a focus for both parties for 2014 because it is one of only a few competitive districts. The district is geographically enormous, a mostly rural area running along the Southern Tier of upstate New York. Once you leave Ithaca, it's a whole other country. Which is why incumbent Republican Tom Reed should be okay by a few percentage points. 2nd Amendment rights, and opposition to the NY SAFE Act, are big issues. Tompkins County, which includes Ithaca, is the exception. Tompkins County is one of only two upstate counties which has not passed a Resolution opposing the SAFE Act. County Opposition to SAFE Act ao January 2014 Guess who was the Democratic Chair of the Tompkins County legislature: Martha Robertson, the Emily's List-backed challenger to Reed. The SAFE Act is in play in the race because of Robertson's confusing voting record, where she appears to have both voted for and against the SAFE Act. WETM 18 reports:

There has been a mostly quiet refusal of county and local officials to implement and enforce the onerous provisions of the NY State gun law rushed through the state legislature in almost comical fashion after the Newtown, CT, school shooting. In the rush to legislate, the text of the law failed to exempt police and other law enforcement from limits on the number of rounds in a magazine, and imposed a ludicrous 7-round magazine limit that even the State agreed was unworkable.  That 7-round limit has been declared unconstitutional by a federal court, although the rest of the law was upheld. But what has slowed the law the most was an upstate insurrection, where almost every county legislature declared its opposition, and many clerks and local police simply ignored the law. Local Sheriff groups have come out against the law as have police unions. The Ithaca Journal reports on the result:
When a gunman killed 26 people in Newtown, Conn., in December 2012, New York’s top elected leaders rushed to toughen state gun laws in a month’s time. Propelled by the flash of emotions following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, the state Legislature approved the NY Safe Act on Jan. 15, 2013, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed it hours later. Now, a year later, the new gun law has yet to be effectively implemented. Officially called the NY Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, the law regulates weapons ownership, sales, permits and ammunition. In dozens of interviews with The Ithaca Journal, county sheriffs, county clerks, a retailer, a target shooter and a hunting guide described the law’s shortcomings, administrative delays and a maze of gun permit paperwork that some local public officials predict will take years to sort out. Those delays and flaws have weakened the enforcement of the SAFE Act — designed to protect New Yorkers from the national horror of mass shootings in schools, shopping centers and theaters.

Federal District Court Judge William M. Skretny has found that most provisions of NY's SAFE Act--passed only one month after the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting--do not infringe the Second Amendment. He did, however, find that the provision that limits magazine capacity to only seven rounds was unconstitutional under the Second Amendment. This seemingly small win for gun owners is actually very important. Almost no semi-automatic pistols have 7-round magazines available.  Because semi-automatic pistols are the overwhelming preference for civilian self-defense--as well as for police and military use--the 7-round limit would have effectively banned the large majority of semi-automatic pistols on the market.  (Technically, one could use a large capacity magazine and only load it to 7-rounds; if, that is, one were willing to risk a felony conviction based on a police officer's honest ability to accurately count to seven. Not me, thanks.) Ironically, one of the few semi-automatic pistols for which 7-round magazines are readily available is the model 1911, which most folks not familiar with guns will know as the Colt .45 pistol of WWII fame.  Thus, this relatively lethal handgun firing the potent .45 ACP cartridge would have been granted preference over many handguns of lesser lethality. Thus the tossing of the 7-round limit saves for law-abiding citizens the vast majority of contemporary handguns for their self-defense use. Unfortunately, the remainder of the SAFE Acts egregious restrictions on the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens were allowed to stand, including severe restrictions on so-called "assault weapons," mandatory registration which can only serve the purpose of future confiscation  of firearms possessed by law-abiding citizens (because criminals do not register their guns or otherwise obey gun laws), and so forth. The full-length judicial opinion from Judge Skretny is available below. Happy New Year! --Andrew, @LawSelfDefense