NY will suspend SAFE Act ammunition database, background checks

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 July 2015 at 12:00 am

The state is suspending the ammunition database and background check, two provisions of the controversial SAFE Act that actually had not been implemented since the law was passed in January 2013.

State Senate Republicans, including Ron Ortt of North Tonawanda, announced the agreement with Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday.

“Suspending the ammunition database is one victory in the overall fight against the SAFE Act,” Ortt said. “In addition to the legitimate financial and administrative concerns raised by the database, there were also extreme constitutional concerns. The SAFE Act was passed in 2013, before I came into office, so I’m encouraged that in my first legislative session, we’re seeing positive movement on this issue. However, more work remains, and I will continue fighting for my full repeal bill as well as common sense measures, such as those recently passed by the state Senate, to roll back the unjust, unlawful SAFE Act.”

In Orleans County, every municipal board with elected officials at the county, town and village levels have passed resolutions calling for the SAFE Act’s repeal.

John Flanagan is the Senate majority leader. Flanagan repeatedly pushed for statutory SAFE Act reforms during legislative talks last month, but was blocked by Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie of the Bronx, who refused to agree, State Sen. Kathy Young said in a news release.

Because of Heastie’s opposition, the governor struck a two-way agreement with the State Senate. Under the signed document, the yet-to-be-established statewide system is suspended, “no certification of the Database as operational shall be made by the superintendent of the state police,” and “no expenditures of state monies shall be allocated for the purposes of purchasing and installing software, programming and interface required to transmit any record for the purpose of performing an eligibility check” for buying ammunition unless both parties agree to proceed, Young said.

Gun purchasers will continue to undergo a federal background check.

“This agreement is a victory for every law-abiding gun owner and our hardworking, overburdened state taxpayers,” said Young, a Republican from Olean. “The ammunition database and background check requires unproven technology that doesn’t exist, and establishing it would have cost the state up to $100 million, which would be a colossal waste of tax dollars.”

Heastie issued this statement on Friday:

“This is an ill-advised end run around the Legislature and the SAFE Act,” Heastie said. “I did not participate in this ‘agreement.’ The law may not be ‘suspended’ by a Memorandum such as this. I believe the law should be followed and implemented as intended.”