Last January, in the wake of the mass murder Sandy Hook Elementary School, Gov. Cuomo and legislative leaders approved the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement
(SAFE) Act, a series of gun control measures that: expanded the definition of banned assault weapons; required owners of such weapons to register them; imposed mandatory background checks for ammunition purchases; and created a protocol for the confiscation of weapons from mentally ill individuals deemed to be a danger to themselves or the public.
A recent report from the state’s Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) shows that more than 1,000 gun possession charges in New York City were increased from misdemeanors to felonies because of the new laws. The DCJS data from arrests and arraignments statewide showed 1,291 charges under the new gun law, with 1,155 for felony firearm possession, formerly just a misdemeanor, and 1,041 of the cases in New York City.
The Cuomo Administration said that the SAFE Act “has enabled the state to better protect New Yorkers.”
Tom King, president of the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association (NYSRPA), disagreed: “Other than to make it extremely difficult for the legal and lawful gun owner in New York state, I don’t see what the SAFE Act has done in New York to make anyone more safe.”
Last Tuesday, a Buffalo federal judge upheld most of the SAFE Act. The court rejected the provision limiting the number of bullets in a weapon, calling it “an arbitrary restriction” that violated the Second Amendment.
Both NYSRPA and the state say they intend to appeal the decision.
A second case challenging the SAFE Act – filed in state court in Buffalo – challenges other aspects of the law. The initial arguments in that case will be heard in State Supreme Court on January 16.