Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D-NY) SAFE Act is as unpopular as ever with New York gun owners. The legislation, signed into law by the liberal governor after the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in December of 2012, burdens citizens with regulations such as banning the sale of certain AR-15 rifles the state defines as "assault weapons" and requiring gun owners to register their firearms, starting in 2018. The law has already accounted for an unforgivable amount of felonies and arrests. Trying to answer New Yorkers’ grievances against the act, the Republican-led state Senate has just approved a bill to help scale back some of its provisions.
Among the changes would include a repeal of a requirement that every purchaser of ammunition undergo a background check. The ammunition database that was part of the SAFE Act has yet to function, and the state allocated $27.7 million in 2013 to implement the law, including the creation of the database.
Other reforms include allowing gun owners to gift registered semiautomatic firearms to family members, who then have to do a background check, prevent the need to make gun registrations public (as the law stands, gun owners are required to make their license public, unless they apply to keep it private), clarify the reporting of mental health issues, and give counties more authority over license recertification.
The bill is sponsored by Republican Sen. James Seward, who just happens to represent the district that is home to the major gun manufacturing company Remington Arms. Feeling the pressure of the SAFE Act’s strict regulations, Remington fired 125 employees in November and even announced it would open a new factory in Alabama. Who can blame Seward for trying to keep Remington happy?
The amendment to the SAFE Act is unlikely to pass the Democrat-controlled Assembly, but at least legislators are listening to angry New Yorkers and making an effort to curb this cumbersome bill.