By Paul McQuillen
Upstate Republicans are back at work trying to dismantle or repeal the NY SAFE Act, the gun safety law that has helped New York achieve the third-lowest gun-death rate in the nation.
Sen. Patrick Gallivan, R-Elma, is among the latest. In fact, he is sponsoring seven bills to repeal the SAFE Act and co-sponsoring another six.
Perhaps Gallivan’s extraordinary zeal comes from his having taken the pledge, as have so many other Republican officeholders and candidates, who have chosen to pander to the corporate gun lobby rather than protect the safety of their constituents. They have even knuckled under and signed oaths foisted upon them by National Rifle Association zealots to repeal the law.
I continue to be amazed by legislators who bow to the monied interests of the corporate gun lobby. Who are they seeking to represent? Polls show that 92 percent of Americans support universal background checks and 67 percent of New Yorkers support the NY SAFE Act, including four out of five women.
These lawmakers should remember that the SAFE Act was passed by a bipartisan vote in both houses of the State Legislature by a wide margin.
The 2-year-old law has passed constitutional muster in both state and federal courts. The federal court held that the law “withstand(s) constitutional scrutiny” and that the state’s regulation of “assault-style weapons” is related to the governmental interest of public safety.
If only these legislators were as concerned with protecting public safety as they are with pleasing their NRA masters.
The law provides safe, sane and sensible gun protections to New Yorkers. These office holders should be challenged to state which parts of the SAFE Act they would repeal.
Would they repeal the section that protects victims of domestic abuse? Or perhaps they don’t like criminal background checks on gun sales to keep guns out of dangerous hands? Or making the use of a gun in the commission of a crime a felony? How about repealing the provision that makes possession of a gun on school property a felony, or establishes a mental health reporting system and a School Safety Improvement Program?
Do they know that only 18 percent of New York households own guns and that many gun owners support the law?
Instead of wasting time and taxpayer money on trying to repeal a law that is widely supported and saving lives, these lawmakers should focus on improving education, jobs, health and infrastructure, all of which would enhance New Yorkers’ quality of life.
The SAFE Act is the law of New York State. It’s past time for those who seek to lead to actually start leading and to stop making promises they cannot keep.
Paul McQuillen is upstate & Western New York coordinator of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence.