State Sen. Rob Ortt, R-C-I-North Tonawanda, joined his Senate Republican colleagues in successfully passing a series of reforms (S5837) to the controversial NY-SAFE Act Monday.
The legislation includes reforms that relate to transferring certain firearms to family members, reporting mental health issues, gun licensing applications and licensing recertification processes. The bill also would repeal a provision of the SAFE Act that requires a background check for a person purchasing ammunition. This is known as the ammunition database.
Since day one, Ortt has pushed to get the SAFE Act overturned, calling it "unconstitutional." The senator's first piece of legislation was sponsoring the full repeal of the SAFE Act. Since January, Ortt has sponsored a total of eight bills to eliminate or roll back some requirements of the NY-SAFE Act. Ortt said these reforms are a big step in the right direction.
"Today, the State Senate took a major step forward in restoring the rights of 2nd amendment supporters and protecting our Constitution," Ortt said. "The SAFE Act was signed into law over two years ago, before I was elected to the State Senate, but rolling back and repealing this law has been my priority since coming to our state capital.
"The SAFE Act was supposed to be full of common-sense measures that never made any sense. It was rushed through both houses of the legislature in the dead of the night. It made criminals out of law-abiding citizens and infringed on constitutional freedoms, while doing absolutely nothing to protect New Yorkers. By rolling back elements of the SAFE Act, we're restoring the rights ingrained in our nation and preserved by our Constitution.
"I commend our new Senate majority leader, John Flanagan, for not only listening to the needs of upstate citizens and representatives, but in responding to them. I urge the Assembly Democrats and the governor to fight criminals, not guns."
Amendments to the SAFE Act are as follows:
•Full repeal of the ammunition database;
•Authorize the inheritance of a registered assault weapon from the deceased to an immediate family member holding a valid New York state gun license. That family member would be required to undergo a background check;
•Prevent public disclosure of personal information contained on firearms licenses applications. Currently, information on gun licenses is public, unless the gun owner opts to make information private;
•Stronger due process provisions, requiring notification if someone is placed on any list alleging mental health concerns that could affect the right to own firearms. Right now, a person can be referred to authorities without knowledge if that person seeks treatment for something as simple as insomnia; and
•Restoring responsibility to local county clerks to oversee handgun recertification, and shifting control of New York's pistol permit database away from the State Police to an administrative, non-law enforcement agency.
State Sen. Marc Panepinto, D-Buffalo, praised the passage of the legislative package to amend and repeal portions of the SAFE Act. Following a vote Monday afternoon, he said, "Today's vote marks a long-overdue victory for common-sense reform. The impulsive overnight passage of the SAFE Act was an infringement upon the rights of honest gun owners across New York state. For too long, the call for necessary reforms have gone unanswered by the Republican majority with the power to vote them into law. I am proud to co-sponsor legislation that addresses vital reform.
"Last month, I called on my Republican colleagues in the Senate to join me in the restoration of those rights. Today that call, in part, was answered. I will continue to fight for crucial SAFE Act reform. Moving forward, it is my hope that my colleagues across the aisle join me in that quest and take SAFE Act reform seriously."
Panepinto cosponsored the following pieces of SAFE Act reform legislation:
•S.612 BOYLE - "Defend Our Homes Act"
•S.3373 GALLIVAN - Authorizes the transfer of legally possessed and validly registered weapons to stay in families through estate planning.
•S.3377 GALLIVAN - Expands "immediate family" language in SAFE Act to include siblings, grandparents and grandchildren.
•S3378 GALLIVAN - Makes all personal information regarding pistol licensees confidential except to law enforcement and requests concerning a named individual.
Panepinto also previously voted against S.2050, which he said would have unconstitutionally stripped away a resident's rights to own a long rifle. The bill was defeated 9-7 in the codes committee.
The new bill has been sent to the Assembly.