In overnight surprise, Senate exempts retired cops from SAFE Act
Without warning, the state Senate approved a bill early Friday morning that would exempt retired law enforcement officers from new ammunition restrictions in New York’s new gun control law, the SAFE Act.
The measure sprang onto the chamber floor shortly before 2 a.m., and drew howls from some of the GOP’s Republican members. Roughly half of them — including Sens. Kathy Marchione, R-Halfmoon and Hugh Farley, R-Niskayuna — voted against the legislation, generally citing disgust with the process and a desire that the SAFE Act be repealed in its entirety.
“There’s a difference between working through the night and this crap. This is ridiculous,” Sen. Greg Ball, R-Putnam County, said on the chamber floor. “You’re going to have this conference be ripped apart.”
The exemption passed 49-14.
The SAFE Act broadened the definition of banned assault weapons, increased penalties for illegal gun possession, reduced public access to gun permit information, and required mental health professionals to report concerns about a gun-owning patient who posed a risk of harming himself or others. It also bans any magazine with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds, and forbids people from loading magazines with more than seven cartridges.
The bill was unveiled on Jan. 14, and passed quickly through a “message of necessity” that waived the legally required three-day waiting period. The Senate, led by a Republican-dominated coalition, passed the measure by a 43-18 vote less than two hours after the bill’s text became public. The Democrat-dominated Assembly passed the bill the next day, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed it. It has since prompted lawsuits in state and federal courts.
The law enforcement exemption passed the Assembly in May, but had simmered in the Senate because of the split among Republicans who voted for the SAFE Act and those like Ball and Marchione who believe it should be repealed completely.
On Thursday morning, a phalanx of PBA representatives met with a top aide to Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos met with who urged him to bring the bill to the floor. Skelos had given no indication he planned to do so, and because the law enforcement had passed the Assembly, the Senate was able to consider it without listing it on any set legislative calendars that normally give at least a few moments notice before floor action.
The PBAs and some legislators noted some police departments in the state require officers to purchase a pistol as a condition of employment, and the required service weapons can include a magazine capable of holding more than 10 rounds. Other provisions of the law would apply.
Republican Sen. Marty Golden, a retired NYPD officer from Brooklyn, said the change would affect 200,000 people around the state.
“After working 20 years or 30 years as a police officer, or a peace officer, or as a federal officer, they encounter people when they are with their families and when they are in their communities, and they act appropriately,” he said. “They’re not a separate class of people, ladies and gentleman, but they are an experience class of people. … They know how to deal with the criminal element, so if anybody deserves to have a 10-round magazine” it is them.
Fourteen Republicans voted no: Ball, John DeFrancisco, Farley, Joe Griffo, Tom Libous, Marchione, George Maziarz, Mike Nozzolio, Tom O’Mara, Mike Ranzenhofer, Patty Ritchie, Jim Seward, Cathy Young and Lee Zeldin. All opposed the SAFE Act in January; Zeldin was excused from that vote because he was attending to Army reserve duties out of state, but issued a statement saying he would have voted no.
The chamber’s Democrats sat silently during Friday morning’s debate. The measure now heads to Cuomo’s desk. He has not indicated whether he would sign it.
Posted on June 21, 2013, in Government, Guns/NRA, New York, Politics and tagged andrew cuomo, assault weapons, Corruption, current-events, government, gun control bill, gun control law, gun permit, gun rights advocates, Guns, law enforcement officials, liberal establishment, national rifle association, politics, republican members. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.