Despite Legislature vote, NY SAFE Act stands for now

MAYVILLE – Now that Chautauqua County has offered its collective voice in opposition to the NY SAFE Act, it must wait to see what the state does.

On Feb. 27, the legislature voted in favor of a motion to repeal the act, which was signed into law in January by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The controversial law aims to keep guns out of the hands of convicted felons and potentially dangerous mental health patients. Additionally, it bans high-capacity magazines and assault weapons.

In a 21-3 move, the legislature overwhelmingly supported a motion made by Fred Croscut, R-Sherman, and Robert Stewart, R-Ellington, calling for the repeal of the act.

“I’m thrilled that the good people of Chautauqua County expressed their displeasure with the SAFE Act for all the reasons that they stated publicly and repeatedly, and for the very important remarks that were made at the legislature meeting in support of the motion to call on the state leaders to repeal the SAFE Act,” said County Executive Greg Edwards.

However, although the county has been added to the list of other counties opposing the legislation, the SAFE Act remains law.

“This merely expresses very clearly what the position of the elected leaders are in Chautauqua County in response to what their constituents are telling them their positions are,” Edwards said. “It’s local government taking the concerns of the people of Chautauqua County and expressing it collectively. The law stands until it is either modified by state action, or modified by the courts.”

As of Feb. 27, 33 New York counties had passed motions or resolutions opposing the SAFE Act. Additionally, 17 counties had motions or resolutions proposed.

On Friday, a group of 1,200 New Yorkers forced a court review of whether the SAFE Act was rushed into law in violation of the state constitution, according to the Associated Press. Gov. Andrew Cuomo had issued a “message of necessity,” allowing the normal three-day review required before voting on bills to be suspended.

Robert Schulz, of Warren County, and his co-plaintiffs won an order requiring the governor and the state legislature to prove the suspension was warranted, the AP reported.

The New York Pistol and Rifle Association also planned to file a lawsuit against the SAFE Act, according to a Syracuse Post-Standard report.

“(The SAFE Act) was so poorly drafted and so over-reaching that I think it’s going to fail to withstand constitutional attack,” Edwards said.

Legislators voting in favor of the motion:

Keith Ahlstrom, D-Dunkirk

Shaun Heenan, D-Dunkirk

George Borrello, R-Irving

Rod Rogers, G-Forestville

John Runkle, R-Stockton

Robert Stewart, R-Ellington

Tom Erlandson, D-Frewsburg

Larry Barmore, R-Gerry

Mark Tarbrake, R-Ellicott

Lori Cornell, D-Jamestown

Robert Whitney, D-Jamestown

Charles Nazzaro, D-Jamestown

Vincent Horrigan, R-Bemus Point

Paul Wendel, R-Lakewood

Jay Gould, R-Ashville

Fred Croscut, R-Sherman

David Himelein, R-Findley Lake

John Hemmer, R-Westfield

Thomas DeJoe, D-Brocton

Bob Scudder, R-Fredonia

William Coughlin, D-Fredonia

Legislators voting against the motion:

Bob Duff, R-Irving

Timothy Hoyer, D-Jamestown

Paula DeJoy, D-Jamestown

Victoria James, D-Jamestown, was absent from the Feb. 27 legislature meeting.