Albany Passes NY SAFE Act, Ball and Katz Vote Nay

Sen. Ball and Assemblyman Katz said at a press conference that they would support a gun owner's rights.
Sen. Ball and Assemblyman Katz said at a press conference that they would support a gun owner’s rights.

Less than a week after Governor Andrew Cuomo mentioned his gun control reform package in his 2013 State of the State address, the NY SAFE Act of 2013 was passed in the legislature and signed into law.

The NY SAFE package includes bans on any magazine that holds more than seven rounds, tracks ammunition purchases in real time to permit alerts on high volume buyers, and checks on the buyer’s background.

Additionally, a statewide database will keep the registry current and guard against the dangerous or unstable possessing guns, according to the bill’s summary.

Both the Senate and Assembly passed the package with overwhelming majorities. The Senate voted 43-18 in favor of passing the legislation last Monday night. The Assembly passed a corresponding bill the next day 104-43. State Senator Greg Ball (R,C,I –Patterson) and Assemblyman Steve Katz (R, C- Yorktown) voted against the package.

Ball voted nay despite the fact that he NY SAFE package included pistol permit privacy legislation he introduced.

The legislation was introduced by Ball after The Journal News, a Gannett Company, recently posted a map on their website that unethically reveals homeowners with pistol permits in Westchester and Rockland counties.

With the NY SAFE Act there are new rules that will close a loophole that excludes private sales of guns from a federal background check; tighten provisions governing gun ownership by persons with serious mental illness; require safe storage of guns for gun owners who live with someone who has been convicted of certain crimes, is under an order of protection, or who has been involuntarily committed as a result of a mental illness.

The bill also creates new and enhanced penalties for illegal gun use, and enhances protections for victims of domestic violence by requiring the firearm surrenders and gun license suspension and revocation in cases where an order of protection has been issued.

Ball maintained that he voted against the NY SAFE Act because he felt the collective package was being rushed and lacked the public’s input.

“We needed solid provisions to keep the violently, mentally ill from harming our communities, our kids and our families. That didn’t happen tonight,” said Ball. “While much in this bill, as far as stiffer penalties for real criminals and help on the mental health front is good, the last minute push, in the middle of the night without critical public input from sportsmen and taxpayers was outrageous and forced members to vote on a bill they had not read.”

While touting the victory of having his proposed legislation be part of the package, Ball voted against NY SAFE.

“I simply cannot support a bill that turns law abiding citizens into criminals by creating an entire new category of illegal firearms out of currently legal rifles and shotguns,” said Ball.

If the NY SAFE Act is voted into law, New York will be the first state in the nation to completely ban all pre-1994 high capacity magazines.

Other state representatives from the region voted in favor of the legislation, including Sen. Terry Gipson, Sen. George Latimer, Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Assemblywoman Sandy Galef and Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, who was one of the legislators to introduce the bill.

“In my tenure of 12 years on the assembly, few days stand out with this level of historic importance,” Paulin told Examiner Media during an interview last week. “New York State now has the toughest gun restriction laws in the nation. It’s an issue that I have made a priority since joining the assembly and Tuesday’s vote was a huge step in what has been a very long process. It’s a fair bill, one that is large in scope and will help make our state safer while still protecting the Second Amendment rights of residents who own and operate guns legally.”

Katz, who is avid supporter of the Second Amendment, disagreed with Paulin’s view. He is opposed to the hastiness through which the legislation was passed as well as aspects of its content.

Referring to the governor as a “bully,” Katz suggested the legislation has more to do with political aspirations than public safety.

“The Governor has proven himself to be a crass bully intent on subverting the NY State and U.S. Constitution for his own political aspirations,” Katz remarked. “The fervent haste, the ‘we have to do something now’ claim is nothing more than a misguided presidential calculation to be on record as the ‘first’ in the nation for nothing more than political posturing.”

“The reality is not one person in our nation could care less whether Cuomo is first second or last in driving legislation designed to further limit the Constitutional rights of law abiding citizens of our state and nation,” Katz said. “If the legislation is so necessary and meaningful, why are we doing it in the middle of the night without giving our citizens of the state an opportunity to review and discuss its merits in a free and transparent forum?  Let the people speak? No. Do as the Governor commands.”

Katz also contended that NY SAFE creates a new class of criminals—those who were law abiding gun owners who refuse to have magazines that hold less ammunition.

“This bill will turn me into a criminal,” Katz said on the floor of the Assembly before the vote. “You can bet that before I leave to do the people’s work there will be more than seven bullets in a magazine in my wife’s firearm.”


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