State Officials in Putnam React to SAFE Act Ruling

A federal court upheld most, but not all of New York State’s SAFE Act, leaving state officials within Putnam County with a mixed reaction to the ruling.

Gun advocates boasted a small victory when Judge William Skretny in Buffalo ruled it was unconstitutional for the state to limit loading only seven bullets in a firearm. But that was the only noticeable win for gun advocates like Republican assemblyman Steve Katz and senator Greg Ball, both who represent parts of Putnam County.

Skretny upheld almost every other part of the controversial SAFE Act, including a ban on large-capacity magazines and restrictions on the sale of some semi-automatic rifles. His argument centered on public safety for keeping the provisions in.

When reached for comment, Katz said he’s currently looking into the ramifications of the ruling, but noted how happy he was the seven bullet limit was seen as unconstitutional. Going forward, Katz hopes other provisions are taken out, enough that the law would be repealed or severely amended.

“Because of the nature of the legislature right now, I would say it precludes any chance of a repeal in Albany,” Katz said. “So I’m hoping that ultimately as we go forward other cases will be ruled on in our favor.”

Both sides have already stated their plan to appeal the ruling, since the judge didn’t give a slam-dunk win to either side. A spokesperson for Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said the state would seek to defend the SAFE Act in appeals court.

Katz said he believes Governor Andrew Cuomo has realized he created a problem for himself by passing the strict gun laws quickly.

“I would imagine that his response will be pretty sotto voce,” Katz added.

Katz held a SAFE Act informational forum this past October and since the new gun laws have been passed last year, he’s been very critical of state and Cuomo.

Ball, another harsh critic, said in a statement he’s glad the court realized the seven bullet limit was an arbitrary number and not constitutional. He called the seven bullet limit “idiotic at best” turning law abiding citizens into criminals.

“The entire law is an affront to our second amendment and our constitutional freedoms,” Ball stated. “Passed in the dark of night, this law was rushed through the legislature and did not go through the typical airing which would have allowed the public and my fellow legislators to see the obvious flaws in the wording and structure of the bill.”

He also was once again critical of Cuomo, stating, “This bill was written with the saving of one, and only one, life in mind. The political life of a Governor who wants to be President.”

A gun control advocacy group, New York Against Gun Violence (NYAGV) expressed its disappointment with the part of the ruling regarding the seven-bullet limit being thrown out.

“Under the Judge’s ruling, there is no question that New York can regulate the size of a magazine based on its determination of how to improve public safety,” part of the statement said. “Thus, it does not make any sense that it could not likewise determine the appropriate number of bullets.”

“It is difficult to argue, as Judge Skretny does, that the seven-round limit is “arbitrary” since New York City has a five-bullet limit and the federal government, before the assault weapons ban expired in 2004, imposed a ten-bullet limit,” the statement later read.

One aspect both sides have in common is the continued fight to keep or repeal the SAFE Act.

“I think this has a long way to go,” Katz said. “Because passions are high on both sides.”