Tempers run high as frustrated gun owners learn about New York’s weapons ban | syracuse.com

| January 31, 2013 | 0 Comments

LaFayette, N.Y. — About 200 people overwhelmingly against New York’s stricter guns laws had dozens of questions for top state law enforcement officers Wednesday night that boiled down to this: Will the NY Safe Act keep more people safe?

State law enforcement officials, well-versed in the new law and the criticisms of the NY Safe Act, deflected that question. They said they didn’t pass the legislation, nor could they explain the reasoning behind new laws that ban certain semi-automatic weapons and number of bullets a gun owner can load into a magazine.

"It’s not my law," said Michael Green, the executive deputy commissioner of the Division of Criminal Justice Services. "I’m simply trying to explain what the law says."

Their answers didn’t satisfy some of the gun owners, who feel the state is stepping on their right to hunt, shoot and collect guns.

The question-and-answer session was one of eight held in Upstate New York on Tuesday and Wednesday. The meetings drew between 100 and 200 people. A meeting earlier Wednesday in Oswego County drew about 150 people.

The meetings targeted rural and Republican parts of the state as a new poll revealed Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s popularity among gun owners has dropped. Among GOP voters, just 44 percent approve of the Democratic governor since signing the gun law, according to a survey released by Quinnipiac University. Half of gun owners surveyed disapprove of Cuomo’s performance in recent weeks.

About 120 people filled the LaFayette Town Hall for the 5 p.m. meeting, and at least 60 more waited outside. Speakers were set up so people outside could hear and questions were collected from them for officials to answer.

Green and Steve Hogan, first deputy counsel for the New York State Police, deflected repeated questions about whether the law would prevent tragedies like the mass shootings in Newtown, Conn., or the Rochester suburb of Webster.

Instead, they tried to explain the law, which redefines many semi-automatic guns as assault weapons and requires registration of those weapons by April 15, 2014.

For example: As of March 15, private sales of guns require background checks. Recertification of pistol permits will be free. Guns 50 years or older are considered curios and not banned. Background checks for ammunition sales will probably take longer than a year to start, and the new process will require the state to create its own database.

Hogan and Green also explained some punishments if gun owners don’t comply with the laws, specifically the registration of weapons that were legal before Jan. 15, when Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the law.

The answer? Those caught with a non-registered gun after the April 15, 2014 deadline likely will be given a warning. Those caught intentionally ignoring the registration requirement could face a felony.

And the state officials acknowledged they don’t have all the answers to questions about a law that was passed just a month after the Newtown school shootings. Will retired law enforcement officers have to apply with all aspects of the ban? "We’re still working on that," Hogan said.

Tony Steiner owns AKS Firearms in LaFayette, and he estimates that the majority of his inventory of semi-automatic guns can no longer be sold in New York. He has a store in Florida and has the choice of shipping the banned guns there.

At the two-hour meeting, Steiner wanted to know why the state imposed a limit of seven bullets in a magazine when semi-automatic pistols have eight-round magazines. "It’s a handgun ban," Steiner said, to loud applause.

Green didn’t comment on whether lawmakers intended to ban handguns. But Green said Steiner was right about how the law affects the inventory at Steiner’s shop, saying it was "entirely accurate."

Mike Mastrogiovanni, another gun dealer from Liverpool, said he and other gun owners aren’t feeling insecure because of the law. "We feel violated by the law," he said.

Then he asked the question many in the room wanted an answer to: "How will that stop crime?" The crowd applauded, and Green repeated his message that he didn’t approve the law.

"We’re the implementers," Hogan said. "We’re not the legislators."

Ninety minutes into the meeting, Rainer Brocke of LaFayette, stood up. The law, he said, was passed too quickly without public debate. "We never had that chance," he said, adding that the state has spent years considering whether to allow hydrofracking, another controversial issue, into the state.

"Where is the participation in this legislation?" Brocke said. "That’s the frustration you see here."

Brocke asked whether Green and Hogan would take the crowd’s concerns back to Albany. The men said they would.

"I thank you for that," Brocke said.

Hogan also gave out his office’s number for questions from others: 518-457-6137.

Contact Teri Weaver at: tweaver@syracuse.com, 315-470-2274 or on Twitter at @TeriKWeaver.

via Tempers run high as frustrated gun owners learn about New York's weapons ban | syracuse.com.

Category: NY & CT Firearm News

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