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Upstate NY falsely portrayed as united front against SAFE Act

Posted 2 November 2014 at 12:00 am

Editor:

A recent article in the New York Times “Cuomo’s Gun Law Plays Well Downstate but Alienates Upstate” misrepresents the WNY and upstate areas as a whole. The article portrays “upstate” as a united front of anti-SAFE Act hysteria and repeal frenzy. That misstates the facts.

In reality, upstate opposes the SAFE Act by a relatively small percentage, but that percentage is considered statistically insignificant in the latest Siena College poll. Further, if the election is to be viewed as a litmus test on the SAFE Act upstate, Cuomo leads Astorino here in that same poll 47 percent to 34 percent.

While there are pockets of repeal “lawn signs and bumper stickers” throughout WNY, those numbers are dwarfed by the numbers of homes and cars not sporting such epithets. Rather, count the cars and yards that are not billboards for the NRA, SCOPE and the corporate gun lobby.

While the Times’ article notes that the law has spawned lawsuits, it fails to note that those lawsuits have been defeated in both state and federal courts.

In reality, there are other reasons that upstate voters may not support Gov. Cuomo. Many cite Common Core, hydro-fracking and other matters to be of greater concern. Upstate voters, like the rest of the state, are more concerned about education, the economy and jobs. The same Siena College poll shows that the issues motivating voters are largely economic – 13 percent cite jobs, 12 percent each for taxes and education; fewer than 5% mention guns and the SAFE Act.

While gun ownership is higher upstate, so too are gun-related deaths. Because of the overall low gun ownership (18 percent) and strong gun regulations, New York has the 4th lowest gun death rate in the country despite a population of 20 million people and 80 million visitors annually.

A recent Violence Policy Center (VPC) report, utilizing data from the CDC, shows that states with the lowest overall gun death rates have both lower rates of gun ownership and strong gun violence prevention laws. Conversely, states with weak gun violence prevention laws and higher rates of gun ownership have the highest overall gun death rates in the nation.

Another indication that western and upstate NY are not hotbeds of repeal frenzy, is that the recent debate between Cuomo and Astorino in Buffalo did not even merit a question about the SAFE Act. Further, the Buffalo News’ endorsement of Gov. Cuomo for re-election did not mention the SAFE Act, the Rochester D&C called the SAFE Act “a significant accomplishment,” and the Albany Times Union called it “mostly commendable.”

Paul McQuillen – WNY Coordinator, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence
Judith Capodicasa – Buffalo
Al Capurso – Albion
Alexandra Dubroff – Cold Spring
Arthur “Happy” Klein – Tonawanda
Peter Leyonmark – Hamburg
Patricia LaFalce – Tonawanda
Kathy McCrone-Pudup – Rochester
Myra Robinson-Moses – Buffalo
Kathy Richardson – Rochester