Home / Opinion / Most readers still oppose NY SAFE Act

Most readers still oppose NY SAFE Act

A two-thirds majority of respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll oppose the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act.

Last Friday marked three years since enactment of the NY SAFE Act. In his State of the State address last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said New York now has “the smartest gun laws in the nation,” adding that the number of gun deaths in the state has fallen. Opponents, meanwhile, continue to challenge the law.

More than half of the poll respondents—60 percent—say the law should be repealed. Twenty-five percent say changes are needed to improve the law, and 15 percent think it should stand as is.

When the same question was asked in 2014, a year after NY SAFE Act became law, 62 percent opposed the act. In that poll, 53 percent said the law should be repealed, 29 percent said changes were needed, and 18 percent said the law should remain as currently written.

The NY SAFE Act contains numerous provisions, ranging from a ban on magazines with more than 10 rounds and background checks for nearly all gun sales to a registry of assault weapons and stiffer sentences for gun crimes.

The core provisions of the law have been upheld in court, most recently by a U.S. Court of Appeals panel in October. However, the three-judge panel struck down a provision barring possession of a 10-round magazine loaded with more than seven rounds of ammunition. Plaintiffs have said they intend to pursue their case against the NY SAFE Act to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Supporters of the law—passed and signed by Cuomo in the weeks after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., and the murder of two volunteer firefighters in Webster—maintain it was a necessary step to help protect New Yorkers against gun violence. Critics say, among other things, that it unconstitutionally restricts civil liberties and has done nothing to reduce the number of assault weapons in New York.

Some 1,165 readers participated in this week’s poll, conducted Jan. 18 and 19.

Do you support or oppose the NY SAFE Act?
Support:  33% 
Oppose:  67%

Has your view of the NY SAFE Act changed since it was enacted three years ago?
No change:  96% 
I used to support the law but now oppose it:  2%
I used to oppose the law but now support it: 2%

Which of the following best represents your current view of the NY SAFE Act?
The law should remain as currently written:   15%
Changes are needed to improve the law:  25%
The law should be repealed:  60%

For information on how the Snap Polls are conducted, click here.

COMMENTS:
The SAFE Act is pure politics at its worst—it harms law-abiding citizens while doing nothing to prevent crime. The Legislature passed it in the dark of night with no opportunity for public comment. The city of Rochester has an out-of-control crime rate, which the SAFE Act has not touched, while law-abiding citizens in rural areas are faced with bureaucracy and harassment from the state police, which Gov. Cuomo has turned into his private army to enforce a law very few are obeying. Locally, our elected officials such as Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle (who led the debate in the Assembly) should be held accountable for its failure and for the rubber-stamp way they voted for it.
—Sig Munson

NY SAFE Act was too reactionary and not thoroughly discussed, but I am in favor of some regulation in regard to guns and the safekeeping of them. Hopefully some smart discussions and compromises take place on both sides, as (it is) important to protect New York/U.S. citizens as much as Second Amendment rights.
—Keith Newcomer

Does anyone really need a magazine with more than 10 rounds? And why should any gun sales not require a strict background check? And why not require the registry of assault weapons, when we find it useful to require registry of cars? And what’s the problem with stiffer sentences for gun crimes? If anything, the SAFE Act needs to be replaced with a SAFER Act.
—Ken Maher

Guns provoke such emotion on both sides. But laws should never be passed in such a backroom way; smells of corrupt tyranny. This is a bad, irrational law. The details aren’t clear or easy to understand.
—Daniel Herpst

There is no beneficial use of guns in our society beyond seasonal hunting of animals. I strongly support any intervening action that limits the deployment of guns and increases the probability that those having guns are suitably responsible and sane.
—Dorver Kendig, Webster

Senseless laws written by blind politicians signed under the cover of darkness to keep criminals safe while putting all of New York law-abiding citizens at danger from arrest, convictions and criminals who don’t obey the current laws we already had let alone new ones.
—E. Irvine

I do not believe that any civilian or person outside of the military or law enforcement should be allowed to purchase assault weapons. They are made for one purpose only—to kill people. The SAFE Act should outlaw the sale of assault weapons in New York State. It is not just an issue related to gun violence. It is also a common-sense issue.
—Bob Moline, St. John Fisher College

There should be another option: Current laws should be vigorously applied. We have plenty of laws on the books, but very little enforcement. New York State is getting as bad as Chicago!
—J.A. DePaolis, Penfield

More is needed. This is a start, but it is not enough to control the numbers of guns in our communities.
—Maggie Thomas

Cuomo wanted to get headlines, and he did, but at enormous cost to law-abiding citizens and the economy of Upstate New York. More than 2,000 jobs have been lost in retailers, parts manufacturers and gun firms’ corporate office departures, plus another 2,000 jobs that Remington is creating in Alabama because expanding in New York would be foolish. The job losses from the SAFE Act exceed all of the job creation to date from Cuomo’s various economic development programs. As for crime prevention, the SAFE Act has neither prevented nor solved crimes and accomplished nothing other than bureaucracy, curtailing our rights and making the State Police the enemy for many citizens who otherwise would respect them. It’s a failed law and should be repealed.
—Bob Sarbane

If you kept criminals in prison, the state would be a lot safer. Criminals don’t care about the law or your rights or anybody’s rights, not even their own. Look at what happened in Webster, thanks to the New York State probation division. Cuomo should be held responsible for that. You will never keep weapons out of the hands of bad people; knives, guns, cars, hammers, bare hands kill. Enforce the laws we have now; be tough on criminals—they are tough on us. The governor needs to look at the way he protects us from within his own administration. Not bash or take away the rights of law-abiding citizens.
—Robert Jeffery

This law is misguided, ill-informed and naive. The things it addresses—from rifle cosmetics to arbitrary magazine capacities—reflect an ignorance of the causes, nature and statistics of gun-related crime, and serve only to punish the most law-abiding citizens among us. And the surreptitious manner in which it was hurriedly enacted is unacceptable. There is no more apt word than “stupid” to describe the whole thing.
—Michael Hess

More people die every year in car accidents. Do we restrict people’s rights to own a car? Ten times more people die from cancer caused by cigarettes, but they are still sold. Guns don’t kill people; deranged individuals do. These gun laws have done nothing to curb violence or reduce illegal guns. Our government has gone too far in limiting our civil liberties. Enough.
—David Wolf, Just Solutions

The SAFE Act appears to have been written by an uninformed assistant who obviously knows nothing about firearms. It was signed into law in the dead of night by a professional politician, Cuomo, to further his political agenda. Ask any law enforcement agent their opinion and they will tell you no one is safer because of that law. It is already against the law to shoot people. How is that working out? Take the ability to defend themselves away from people is the first step to giving too much power to the government. We should be very wary of any politician who wants to disarm the general population. If people had to serve in the reserves and learned how to handle firearms and were given the ability to carry firearms, fewer people would die in these mass shootings.
—Mark Williams

The cowards in Congress have failed to act so it has fallen to states to follow their conscience. New York did that. But so long as states like Missouri, Arizona and Texas continue to sell anything to anyone and gun control makers refuse to adapt safety measures to prevent stolen guns from being used by anyone except the registered owner, New York laws will be ineffective. That doesn’t mean that we can’t set an example.
—Wayne Donner, Rush

When laws are passed in the middle of the night, against law-biding citizens that make them criminals, (it) is dead wrong. It has been (three) years since the Cuomo gun laws were forced through the Legislature under the cover of darkness and without public input. Since then, multiple rallies have been held at the capitol, with the largest of these reportedly drawing about 10,000 people. The vast majority of counties in Upstate New York have passed resolutions against the Cuomo gun laws, and many county clerks, sheriffs and police departments have come out in opposition, as well. The Cuomo gun laws belong in the dust heap of history, and Assemblyman Bill Nojay (R,C) is sponsoring legislation to repeal it. Bill’s legislation eliminates every provision that infringes on Second Amendment rights, but leaves intact the portion of the law that mandates life imprisonment for people who murder emergency personnel, since this is the one part of the law that will actually deter criminals. The key to creating safer communities is punishing criminals instead of law-abiding citizens. If you agree with Bill, sign his petition and tell Gov. Cuomo, “Repeal the SAFE Act, punish violent criminals with illegal guns and leave law-abiding citizens alone!”
—G. Palis

As you can see with the constant news of weekly homicides in Rochester, the SAFE Act has done nothing to prevent someone who wants to do harm from illegally obtaining a gun. First, start by enforcing the laws currently on the books and second, fix the parole and mental health systems. Unfortunately, our elected officials would rather take the easy way out and pass feel-good legislation that only affects the law-abiding than go after the criminals in our society. Gov. Cuomo used the “message of necessity” to bypass the mandatory public review to get his poorly written law passed by a Legislature that did not have time to read it. Regardless of one’s opinion of the SAFE Act, all New Yorkers should be very concerned about how this law was written and passed in the dead of the night.
—Barry Alt, A2Z Enhanced Digital Solutions

The law provides zero value added. The acid test is this, “Would this law, if in place, have prevented ____?” The answer is always— the law would not have prevented: “Dark Night” movie theater shooting; San Bernadino; Sandy Hook; the church in Carolina; yada, yada, yada. Criminals do not obey laws. If a criminal wants a firearm, they will obtain a firearm. The Sandy Hook murderer killed his mother and stole her property. Please do tell: What law is going to prevent that?
—Jim Bongard, Webster

Gun control laws only make it harder for law-abiding citizens to protect themselves and their property. Why is it that liberals don’t understand that criminals don’t pay attention to the laws? Maybe they should just go look up the definition of “criminal” in a dictionary! Research shows that illegal gun crime and activity is highest where there are the strictest gun laws. Why? Because the criminals know the populace is unarmed and unable to protect themselves! Why don’t the liberals do something about crime and criminals, rather than restricting the rights of law-abiding citizens? And I won’t even go into a discussion of liberals being afraid that the general population will rise up when the liberal policies remove the last remnants of liberty and freedoms granted by the Constitution are taken away by the so-called liberal progressives.
—Keith B. Robinson, Diamond Packaging

The SAFE Act is empty, political posturing. Impact on gun crime is negligible at best, while the onerous effect on law-abiding gun owners is significant. The legislation contributes to the polarizing and disingenuous narrative on the roots of violence in the U.S. promoted by Obama, Cuomo, Bloomberg, Feinstein and the like, which scapegoats gun owners while deflecting blame away from social and institutional causes. Historical economic and social divides in the country, coupled with a failed educational system and similarly backward criminal justice and mental health systems provide the elusive answers to why our country is plagued with violence. Combine those factors with an Internet-based “virtual reality” culture where life is cheap and making a big splash is the endgame, and you have all the necessary ingredients for a crisis, whatever the ultimate manifestation. Morality cannot be legislated. Non-violence cannot be achieved via mandate. The right to self-defense is non-negotiable.
—Erin Thompson

I don’t see where this law has prevented any criminals from obtaining the weapons of their choice, increase the taxes they pay on illegal activities, increased mental health care in New York, or even increase the vote for the politicians who think this is a good idea. However, as a law-abiding citizen looking to protect myself and my family, have no history or even familial history of mental illness, work full time and then some, pay plenty of taxes, and contribute much time to bettering my community, I am limited as to what my firearm choices are—so what is the point here? To whom or what is this law really directed? Seems like a piece of empty regulatory legislation that was made to look like it was contributing to the greater good.
—B. Moser, Canandaigua

Passed in the dead of night with virtually no time for reading by representatives or citizens—pathetic performance by our dear governor. This law does nothing to prevent gun violence by criminals and terrorists but certainly abuses law-abiding citizens.
—Bob Worden, Penn Yan

The SAFE Act strips law-abiding citizens of the basic right of “due process under the law.” Even if you do not own guns, you need to look at this: Take that basic right away from any citizen and you take it away from all citizens—including YOU—and the day may come when YOU wish to exercise your rights. Case in point: law enforcement across this country (New York included) are now urging law-abiding citizens to arm up and exercise your rights. I implore you—even if you agree with the SAFE Act, check out the aforementioned, educate yourself, enlighten yourself and empower yourself to make good decisions about the laws and the politicians who pass them.
—Bob Brannan, chairman,Wayne County SCOPE (Shooters Committee On Political Education)

What a pity that legislation with such minimal impact on the gun-owning public is even controversial. One would think that the lives and safety of the citizenry would be the highest priority that would justify the tightest scrutiny of gun purchases and ownership, and that the general public would be understanding and supportive.
—Michael DeMott

It’s as simple as this: Criminals ignore the law, and law-abiding citizens follow them. This law does nothing but burden the law-abiding citizen. There are already laws on the books to penalize those who misuse firearms. The SAFE Act must be repealed!
—David Wagner

The problem here is that gun control—all gun control—only applies to law-abiding citizens. Criminals can and will continue to break the law. The only kind of gun control I support are reasonable background checks to minimize gun ownership by the mentally unstable. I will never support laws that prevent people from owning guns used for self defense.
—Joseph Fabetes, Rochester

The SAFE Act is a terrible piece of legislation pushed through Albany by downstate special interest groups. Now, two of the biggest proponents of the act, Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos, are heading to prison on corruption convictions. The act does nothing to promote public safety and everything to limit the civil rights of average citizens. Whether an individual chooses to own a firearm or not, they should be deeply concerned about further limitations on their civil rights.
—Steve Smiley

Enough is enough with this gun love affair and the specious argument that just because any gun control law wouldn’t prevent every tragedy, that it has no value. Speed limits don’t eliminate speeders, but they do save innocent lives.
—Carlos Gonzalez

The SAFE Act was passed in the dead of night without the required review. The law does nothing to curb gun violence. AR15s are not “assault” weapons as the definition is “fully automatic firing,” which the AR15 cannot do. According to FBI statistics for 2013, 8,583 homicides were committed with guns; 660 were justified (home defense). Of the 7,923 remaining, 323 were by “long gun,” which can mean shotguns, AR15s, bolt action, pump action or single shot. Let’s say half were by AR15s. Why pass a law that does not address 98 percent of the problem and makes criminals out of those who legally own semi-automatic long guns and are not the problem? The law requires registration of the AR15 and according to NYSP reports, fewer than 5 percent of owners have done so. Based on background check info from NICS, there are more than 1,000,000 non-problematic AR15s in the hands of owners. Enforce the laws we already had on the books and make much longer sentences for those who commit crime with guns!
—Art Elting, Palmyra

No criminal is going to pay attending to any gun law. All the SAFE Act does is punish law-abiding citizens.
—Mark Gibson

The law has done nothing to stop those who wish to commit crimes. The lawbreaker is unaffected by laws, new or old. The law-abiding person will not commit crimes using guns or any other means. These are simple facts. Unfortunately our governor and most elected politicians do not understand simple facts as is evident in most of their actions.
—Jim Weisbeck, Bloomfield

The SAFE Act was passed as a political maneuver and has been massively unsupported by citizens, law enforcement and even other politicians. The law—while it was “the first stricter gun control measure” to be passed after a certain tragedy in our neighboring state—unfortunately that’s all it was. It is full of restrictions that do nothing to prevent crime, but only restrict firearms that are in common use and put restrictions on cosmetic and safety features. The SAFE Act is unenforceable, parts have been ruled unconstitutionally vague and arbitrary, it is rejected by law enforcement, and has been disobeyed by the majority. The law has been a major fail and is only on the books because it’s the governor’s child and it’s easier to put laws into effect under message of necessity than it is to strike even unjust, unfollowed and poorly written laws from the books.
—Tom Zorn

The 2nd Amendment is about more than firearms. It is the “canary in the coal mine.” It is part of the ecology of citizens’ rights connected to amendments such as the First Amendment, freedom of speech and right to petition government for redress of grievances. Recall that citizens who speak up in defense of the 2nd Amendment have been called “extremists” by New York Gov. Cuomo, and they are said to “terrorize” by Hillary Clinton. 5th Amendment is due process. Mr. Cuomo’s closed-door passage of the SAFE Act eliminates due process for citizens whose firearms are confiscated. No evaluation of the accusation, no trial, no hearing. The good news is, there is no "gun epidemic," despite the political pandering by merchants of fear. Even President Obama admitted this in the CNN Town Hall—contradicting his same-day allegation in a NYT op-ed piece. In response to a question by Tara Kyle, widow of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, Mr. Obama acknowledged the murder rate is at an all-time low and agreed it is something to “celebrate.” He went on to say, “The fact of the matter is that violent crime has been steadily declining across America for a pretty long time; and you wouldn’t always know it by watching television. But overall whole cities are much safer than they were ten years ago or 20 years ago.” The facts are indisputable, based on sources such as the FBI Uniform Crime Reports. According to Pew Research (not known as an advocate of the 2nd Amendment), the nation’s gun homicide rate is down 49 percent since its peak in 1993, yet the public is unaware. In fact, 56 percent of Americans believe gun crime is higher than 20 years ago; only 12 percent think it is lower. Why? How can that possibly be true unless public opinion is manipulated? Reference link: http://www.pewsocialtrends.org. Here in New York and Mr. Cuomo’s closed-door passage of the SAFE Act, the senior staff attorney for the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) testified on Gov. Cuomo’s SAFE Act to Sen. David Carluci and stated: "(Governor Cuomo’s closed-door) legislative process makes a mockery of the core democratic principles of transparency, accountability, and public participation in government." Perhaps Gov. Cuomo will add the NYCLU to his list of “extremists.”
—Mike Benard

Pass and enforce laws that affect not the law-abiding. Severe penalties for theft of a firearm, possession of a stolen firearm and/or use of a firearm in a crime.
—Keith Kappel

With all of the laws of Man and God already in place, this law adds nothing but opposition to the rights of the honest man. The criminal obeys no law, only the honest man who is no threat to start with.
—Curt Roberts

The SAFE Act is anything but “safe.” More criminals have guns now and fewer law-abiding citizens who want to defend themselves have access to guns. What good did the SAFE Act do for the three kids at the Boys Club or the four young people in the apartment near East High School? I’m sure the president and Gov. Cuomo are protected by men with guns, why can’t we?
—Clifford Jacobson M.D., Vanguard Psychiatric Services PC

The SAFE Act was another poorly thought out law rammed through the legislature by our overreaching governor. Reportedly, the law was put together by an inexperienced young staff attorney who didn’t know much about guns and it showed. Parts of the law make handling of certain guns more dangerous and later a federal judge threw out the seven-round maximum. There are many other flaws. It’s ironic that lawful responsible gun owners are “targeted” by this law. The real problems are the criminals who constantly unlawfully possess guns to commit crime. The SAFE Act won’t have any impact on these creeps. What the governor should have done was to institute an executive action which would declare an emergency status in high crime areas. This would give the power of police to institute “stop and frisk” and numerous raids of suspected locations and individuals who deal and/or possess illegal guns.
—John Rynne

1/22/2016 (c) 2016 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.

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