|
|
|
Wayne Post
  • Sheriffs take stand on SAFE Act

  • After the passage in January of tougher gun restrictions in New York, sheriffs across the state have joined a federal lawsuit challenging the legislation “to reinforce the sheriffs’ position that portions of the (legislation) need to be changed and have a potentially negative impact on law-abiding citizens,” said Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero.

    • email print
  • After the passage in January of tougher gun restrictions in New York, sheriffs across the state have joined a federal lawsuit challenging the legislation “to reinforce the sheriffs’ position that portions of the (legislation) need to be changed and have a potentially negative impact on law-abiding citizens,” said Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero.
    The New York State Sheriffs' Association and five individual sheriffs have added their position to the record in the lawsuit filed by the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association regarding the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act of 2013. The individual sheriffs listed are Wayne County Sheriff Barry Virts, Erie County Sheriff Timothy Howard, Oswego County Sheriff Reuel Todd, Putnam County Sheriff Donald Smith and Fulton County Sheriff Thomas Lorey.
    “All tragedies involving guns are terrible, especially when you’re talking about the tragedies in Newtown, going back as far as Columbine,” said Virts. “... However, they are not law-abiding citizens doing this. I’m all for imposing regulations on inappropriate people.”
    According to the sheriffs’ brief, the sheriffs agree with the New York affiliate of the National Rifle Association that the law, passed after the Newtown, Conn., school shooting, is unconstitutional because it will prevent citizens from keeping commonly used firearms for home defense.
    “The Supreme Court has confirmed that the Second Amendment protects arms typically possessed by law-abiding citizens, and identified that the right of self-defense is 'core' protected conduct that is at its zenith in the home,” the brief states. “At a minimum, laws that criminalize the most common rifle in America today — a rifle that is often selected precisely for its self-defense capabilities — impinge upon that core right. The same is true of laws banning standard-capacity magazines."
    The SAFE Act bans magazines with a capacity of more than 10 bullets and generally prohibits loading them with more than seven. It defines assault weapons as semi-automatics with detachable magazines and a single military-style feature, such as a pistol grip. The old definition required two such features.
    The law also requires New York owners of an estimated 1 million guns, including popular versions of AR-15 rifles now reclassified as assault weapons, to register them by April 15, 2014. Since Jan. 15, it has been illegal to sell or buy those guns in the state.
    Povero said the sheriff’s association is interested in collaborating with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature to work through its concerns with the legislation.
    Virts, however, said he has seen his “concerns fall on deaf ears,” and he wants the law to be repealed.
    Cuomo has called the law’s provisions common-sense responses to limit gun violence. The law’s passage happened one month after the Newtown shooting, which left 20 schoolchildren and six educators dead. Police said the 20-year-old gunman used a semi-automatic rifle and 30-round magazines.
    Page 2 of 2 - Povero and Virts said that, at this time, they don’t believe their offices have charged anyone under the SAFE Act.
    Povero added that the legislation has had an impact on his office’s operations.
    “We’ve seen a tremendous increase in the number of pistol license applications that we’re investigating that we received from the county clerk,” Povero said. “We’ve tried to assign as many officers to the pistol license application background checks to move them through at an acceptable rate.”
    Povero said there is currently a backlog of about 300 pistol license applications.
    — Includes reporting by The Associated Press
        • »  EVENTS CALENDAR