** Written by Michael “Vass” Vasquez, and previously published at Binghamton Political Buzz Examiner.com **
On April 23, 2015, the New York State Assembly Codes Committee met to discuss Bills A-2651 and A-3350. Each of these Bills sought to repeal the NY Safe Act, enacted a little over 2 years ago without debate or public input as a matter of necessity in reaction to the Sandy Hook shootings. Since that time, the NY Safe Act has been universally found to have failed its stated goal of making New Yorkers safer from gun violence. The Codes Committee decision would have allowed the repeal Bills to be presented to the entire Assembly in public debate for an up or down vote. The Codes Committee declined to allow such public action.
The NY Safe Act (Act) has been controversial since the day it was enacted for many reasons. Primary among the objections is the position that the Act violates the 2nd Amendment. Without public debate, the Act was rushed into law and overnight turned a number of NY residents, that previously were without blemish, into criminals for the mere fact they owned firearms that do not meet the arbitrary preferences of Governor Cuomo and anti-2nd Amendment proponents of the Democrat Party. The primary target of the Act, are NY residents that had previously legally owned firearms without incident, as a means to prevent incidents of mass murders like that of Columbine and Sandy Hook.
As has been reported in the media since passage, compliance with the law has been a failure. An estimated 90% or more of New York residents have rejected the law wholesale. At least 23 County Sheriffs are publicly opposed to the Act, according to Assemblyman Monsanto at the Code Committee meeting. Law enforcement across the State were not consulted on the Act or its implementation prior to it being made law. Medical health practitioners were also left out of consultation on the Act, though they are required to take actions based on the Act – which conflicts with their duties and legal requirements of their positions. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs notably stated that they will not comply with the NY Safe Act in March 2013.
In terms of effectiveness, the Act failed to prevent shootings in Queens, NY and at Home Depot as recently as January 27, 2015. In fact, the NY Post article from that day notes that
“On a larger scale, the number of shootings rose 24 percent this year over last, from 63 to 78.”
In August 2014, NBC noted that “Citywide, the Bronx leads a recent spike in the number of shooting victims, with 242 people shot this year, up from 191. In Queens, 116 people have been shot, up from 110; in Manhattan, 74 people have been shot, up from 69; and in Brooklyn, 368 people have been shot, up from 338.” Statewide, the average number of murders according to State Police data – covering 2005 – 2014, page 12 - has been 23.9 murders with 2014 having a total of 24 with the NY Safe Act in force.
The Assembly Codes Committee heard 3 arguments from the minority party (Republicans), from Assemblyman Graf, Assemblyman Monsanto, and Assemblywoman Tenney. The arguments covered the issues of unenforceability, cost inefficeincy, direct loss of jobs and business, and the issues of incompatability with pre-existing Federal and State laws.
“This Bill [NY Safe Act] has become unenforceable… There have been so many problems, we have made so many alterations to the Bill that its just not a workable piece of legislation.What this [repeal] would do is roll back the draconian things that we placed upon the everyday citizens of New York State.” – Assemblyman Graf, April 23, 2015
“They [constituents] would like to see the Bill [repeal] voted on, they would like to see public hearings without going through the message of necessity, which is how we originally had this Bill [NY Safe Act] passed… You could look at it from the point of view like I do, that its a fundamental Right under the 2nd Amendment. The other issue is there is hundreds of families in Ilion, NY and throughout our region, people who have no job anymore because their job has been moved to another State… Instead of not allowing this Bill [repeal] to go to the floor, to hold it up in Committee, we are denying all the rights of all these people…” – Assemblywoman Tenney, April 23, 2015
Faced with the arguments of the minority party, the Code Committee summarily lumped the NY Safe Act repeal Bills into a grouping of all Bills being considered at that time and rejected all the Bills from public debate on the floor of the Assembly. Included in the Bills being rejected was the Bill co-sponsored by Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi, who declined appearing before the Codes Committee to defend his Bill. Effectively this kills the legislation at this time.
The one question that cannot be discerned from the Assembly Code Committee meeting, and the subsequent rejection of public debate on repealing the NY Safe Act, is why the Democrat majority will not allow public discussion? There has yet to be any recorded response we have been able to locate that clarifies why this controversial and publicly rejected law should not be debated, nor allow members of the public, law enforcement, and mental health advocates the chance to present their voices on the NY Safe Act and any potential repeal or modification. Officially, as of the Code Committee action, the answer from the majority party (Democrats) is that the subject is not worthy of the NY State Assembly time.