Albany — A western New York congressman is proposing federal measures that would effectively protect Second Amendment rights and, in doing so, effectively repeal the controversial SAFE Act gun legislation in New York state.
U.S. Rep. Chris Collins, R-Erie, outlined his “Second Amendment Guarantee Act” late last month, which would limit a state’s authority to regulate the design, manufacture, sale or possession of a rifle or shotgun.
The bill does not address handguns.
“This legislation would protect the Second Amendment rights of New Yorkers that were unjustly taken away by Andrew Cuomo,” Collins said.
Collins unveiled his proposal at a gatherings in Erie and Monroe counties in which he was joined by local, county and state officials, as well as representatives of the Hamburg Rod and Gun Club, the Rochester Brooks Gun Club and SCOPE (Shooters Committee on Political Education).
In a press release, Collins contended the SAFE Act – pushed through the state Legislature in rapid-fire fashion and signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in January of 2013 “violates federal regulation.” Several of the act’s key provisions – widely criticized by hunters and gun owners – would be void under the proposed legislation, including:
- The SAFE Act’s bans that include semi-automatic guns with detachable magazines that possess certain features.
- A ban on the capacity of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition. It further limited ammo to no more than seven rounds.
Under Collins’ proposal, states or local governments would not be able to regulate, prohibit, or require registration and licensing (that are any more restrictive under federal law) for the sale, manufacturing, importation, transfer, possession, or marketing of a rifle or shotgun.
A “rifle or shotgun” includes any detachable magazine or ammunition feeding device and any type of pistol grip or stock design.
Under the legislation, any current or future laws enacted by a state or political subdivision that exceeds federal law for rifles and shotguns would be void. “Should a state violate this law, and a plaintiff goes to court, the court will award the prevailing plaintiff a reasonable attorney’s fee in addition to any other damages,” Collins’ press release stated.
Collins repeated referred to the SAFE Act as “Cuomo’s SAFE Act,” and said his proposal “would protect the Second Amendment rights of New Yorkers that were unjustly taken away by Andrew Cuomo.”
His comments and his plan, not surprisingly, triggered a quick response from Cuomo, who called it “a blatant political ploy.”
Cuomo accused Collins of “turning his back on New Yorkers and putting millions of people at profound risk. By fighting to roll back vital legislation that protects the people of the Empire State, Collins is demonstrating once again that he is beholden to no one but the gun lobby and entrenched special interests.”
Although Collins said the bill deals with a national issue, it includes New York-specific language and is designed to address the SAFE Act, which has solid support in the New York City metropolitan area but has been widely opposed throughout upstate New York.
Attempts to repeal the SAFE Act through the state Legislature have failed to advance.
Its opponents contend it has done nothing to improve safety and serves only as an impediment to law-abiding gun owners, including hunters who have seen some of their sporting arms fall under the provisions of the SAFE Act.