By Paul McQuillen, Gary Pudup, Alexandra Dubroff and Patricia Tuz
A minority of upstate legislators has introduced legislation to remove all of upstate New York from the protections of the NY SAFE Act. State Sens. Robert Ortt and Patrick Gallivan introduced legislation to repeal the SAFE Act everywhere in the state except New York City.
We question why upstate should be treated any differently than New York City when it comes to gun safety legislation. Why should our children and grandchildren be exposed to the risks of gun violence in their homes, schools and at play?
Every reliable study on this issue has demonstrated, beyond dispute, that more guns equals more gun violence and that effective gun laws equate to less gun violence and fewer gun deaths in our communities.
You will recall that the SAFE Act was enacted with overwhelming support by a large bipartisan coalition of state legislators, and to date, we have not heard any legislator publicly convey regret for voting in support of the act.
The SAFE Act has been upheld in every court that has heard a case involving the law. In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal of a case challenging similar gun safety legislation in the state of Connecticut.
The most recent poll from Siena College shows that statewide the SAFE Act is supported by 60 percent of registered voters.
And, despite the dissemination of “alternative facts,” each of the individual components of the SAFE Act receives overwhelming support from upstate voters. Background checks for all gun sales (81 percent); revocation of pistol permits for domestic orders of protection (78 percent); five-year pistol permit renewals (82 percent); assault weapon ban (67 percent); ammunition background checks (56 percent); and limiting high-capacity magazines (52 percent).
It is also noteworthy that because of the low overall gun ownership across New York State (18 percent) and the SAFE Act, New York has the third-lowest gun death rate in the country despite a population of 24 million people and more than 80 million visitors annually.
Moreover, in the grand scheme of things, most New Yorkers are not overly concerned with debating the SAFE Act. Upstate voters, like the rest of the state, are more focused on education, the economy and jobs than opposing the SAFE Act. The Siena College poll shows that the issues motivating upstate voters are largely economic – 13 percent cite jobs, 12 percent each for taxes and education; less than 1 percent mention guns or the SAFE Act.
Legislators are being disingenuous when they assert that the SAFE Act is overwhelmingly opposed upstate.
New Yorkers, including those of us upstate, stand strong with the 90 percent of Americans who support basic and common-sense gun safety laws, like our NY SAFE Act.
Paul McQuillen (Buffalo), Gary Pudup (Rochester), Alexandra Dubroff (Hudson Valley) and Patricia Tuz (Capital Region) are regional coordinators of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence.