WASHINGTON – Chautauqua County’s representative in Congress is throwing his support behind a proposed federal law that is aimed at killing New York State’s SAFE Act.
On Tuesday Rep. Tom Reed (R-Corning, NY 23) announced that he would be supporting a proposal by fellow WNY congressman Chris Collins (R-Clarence, NY 27), which would limit a state’s authority to regulate rifles and shotguns.
Reed said that instead of New York limiting second amendment rights for its residents, it should instead focus on other ways to respond to gun violence.
“There’s a lot of common ground when it comes to taking on the areas of gun violence, when it comes to mental health and criminal activity. If we focus on those two areas, I think that is the right approach in order to deal with gun violence across America – addressing mental health issues as well as criminal activity that is often behind the gun violence statistics that you read about,” Reed said.
Reed made his comments during his weekly conference call with regional reporters.
In 2015 a federal court had ruled that New York’s SAFE Act was constitutional. WRFA asked Reed why he thought it was important for Congress to interfere with the state’s ability to craft its own gun legislation.
“I am a strong believer in local government and state government, but when it comes to our individual, guaranteed, fundamental rights under the constitution, I believe it’s appropriate for the federal government – and we’ve done it on other areas of the law – to make sure that those constitutional rights are protected even further than just a judicial review,” Reed said. “That’s where the statutory prerogative that this legislation represents, to me, is taking a prudent course to make sure that the Second Amendment fundamental right is protected at the state level.”
Collins’ legislation would prevent any state from implementing any regulations on weapons that are more restrictive than what’s required by federal law.
The SAFE Act was approved by the New York State Legislature and signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo after the Sandy Hook tragedy in 2013. Among other things, it requires universal background checks, broadens the classification of an “assault rifle” to include semi-automatic firearms, and limits the amount of ammunition that can be held in a gun magazine.
Collins bill has been sent to committee for consideration.
According to a recent report from Politifact, gun violence in New York State has declined since the passage of the SAFE Act. However, it’s hard to determine if there was a direct correlation between the two or if other factors were also at play.
In 2016, there were 10,007 violent crimes with a firearm reported to police. In 2013, there were 12,235. The percentage of violent crimes with a firearm also fell from 16 percent in 2013 to 13.5 percent in 2016.
Looked at another way, the number of firearm-related violent crimes per New York state resident also has declined. There were 62 firearm-related violent crimes reported for every 100,000 residents in 2013, compared with 50 for every 100,000 residents by 2016.
The number was already going down outside New York City before the SAFE Act in 2013. There were 5,340 violent firearm crimes reported to police outside New York City in 2008 — the most in the last decade. The count has only increased twice since, in 2012 and 2016.