Local Assembly Members React
Votes went down party lines, with Republican assemblyman Bill Nojay voting "no" as well as Minority Leader Brian Kolb, who said the bill was passed without enough public input. Assembly Majority Leader and Democrat Joe Morelle voted in favor of the law, calling it "groundbreaking."
Morelle hails adoption of milestone bill against gun violence in New York
“For an issue of this importance, and its impact on our Second Amendment rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution, the legislation that was passed today lacked sufficient public input and discussion to ensure that we provide meaningful protection for our children, families and communities.
Stakeholders from across the state – including law enforcement, school safety officials, firearms dealers, mental health professionals, business owners, criminal profilers, law abiding gun owners and the public at large - never had the opportunity to comment or make their voices heard regarding this critical issue.
That is why I could not support this legislation for the residents of New York State.
This discussion must not end here. It must continue with all parties coming to the table so we may hear their ideas on how to protect our children and families.”
State Assembly Majority Leader Joseph D. Morelle, D-Irondequoit, said today that the Assembly’s passage of a groundbreaking gun violence bill places New York “at the vanguard of the most critical public safety issue confronting us at this time.” (A. 2388 memo attached.)
The bill, which among its provisions expands the state’s ban on assault weapons, increases penalties for the murder of emergency first responders and standardizes New York’s handgun permitting process, is the first major legislation adopted by any state in the aftermath of shooting tragedies in Webster and in Newtown, Conn.
The bill also creates a statewide database to prevent mentally ill or unstable individuals from possessing firearms and closes loopholes that allow private gun sales to evade federal background check requirements.
The state Senate passed the bill Monday night. When it is signed, as expected, by Governor Cuomo, New York’s gun laws will be the toughest in the US.
“After the murder of two brave firefighters in Webster and 20 innocent children in Newtown, New Yorkers demanded action on gun safety,” Morelle said. “Today we responded with what I strongly believe is commonsense legislation that reduces the likelihood of such tragedies by restricting the availability of weapons most able to inflict that kind of carnage. I also believe we can and will accomplish this while respecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners.
“Among my earliest efforts as a member of the Assembly was a call to curb the availability of high-capacity assault rifles, and it is especially gratifying for me to be a part of this renewed fight to reduce gun violence in our state.”
“I applaud Speaker Silver, Governor Cuomo and the leadership of the state Senate for putting New York at the vanguard of the most critical public safety issue confronting us at this time.”
HAWLEY VOTES AGAINST UNACCOUNTABLE GOVERNMENT
Statement from Assemblyman Joseph M. Giglio (R,C,I-Gowanda)
“My prayers go out to the families of Newtown and Webster, as well as all victims of senseless violence. I agree that we must end these inhuman acts, but we must do so responsibly, with a balanced approach that does not unintentionally make criminals out of law-abiding New Yorkers.
The so-called New York SAFE Act does not do enough to enhance public safety and protect the most vulnerable in our society. Its 'debate' was rushed and confined exclusively to firearms, when a more comprehensive conversation – about mental health, violence in the media and family stability – would have been in order. Equally troubling, there have been neither public hearings nor a proper vetting of the law's murky details.
I cannot and will not support legislation that is rammed through the Assembly and that does not go far enough to protect families or address the root causes of the evil everyone in this chamber would like to end. This body can do so much better.”
Assemblyman slams dysfunctional process
Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,I,C-Batavia) today cast his vote against a poor legislative process that shut the public out of a critical discourse and prevented a measured, responsible approach to protecting our children and families. Major gun control legislation was brought to the Assembly floor without any public commentary or proper time for legislative review. Hawley indicated that the hasty process betrayed the need for compassionate, reasonable and substantive debate.
“In light of recent tragedies in places like Webster and Newtown, I share our community’s desire to ensure that New York’s laws provide the public safety protections that our families need and deserve. However, the hurried passage of this critical legislation is an example of government dysfunction at its worst,” said Hawley. “Forcing through a massive overhaul of gun control regulations without properly reviewing any of the constitutional or budgetary implications is the kind of unaccountability that has caused the public to lose its faith and trust in Congress. Instead of hastily infringing upon the Second Amendment rights of New Yorkers, we should have engaged in a measured debate that truly protects our children and families from dangerous criminals and those unfit to bear arms. The dysfunction of Albany and the total disregard for our citizens’ input into this process is totally unacceptable!”
Assemblyman Mark Johns (R,C,I-Webster) Statement on Today’s Passage of Gun Legislation
“Despite my strong opposition and that of my upstate Assembly colleagues, on Tuesday January 15, the New York State Assembly approved legislation that will further restrict the rights of law-abiding gun owners in New York State. Although the debate was extensive, the final vote was 104-43.
“This legislation was agreed upon after a series of closed door negotiations. The legislative leaders of the minority parties were left out of any discussion of the issue. Typically, legislation is not voted on for at least three days following introduction. This constitutionally provided waiting period is used to allow legislators, their staff, the press and the public time to review the bill. Unfortunately, the Governor opted to issue a “message of necessity” to push the bill through on a fast vote.
“My colleagues finally received a copy of the bill on Monday evening, and it was 10:30pm before my colleagues and I were able to receive any formal briefing on the legislation. By Tuesday morning the Assembly was debating the bill.
“As bad as the process was, the product is even worse. I am a supporter of the second amendment. I believe in an individual’s right to own firearms. It is a constitutional freedom. Like the rest of the nation, I am heartbroken by tragedies like the ones in Connecticut and Webster, but I do not believe other tragedies can be prevented by this bill.
“The rush to pass this legislation limits a more comprehensive discussion about violence in society and efforts to make us safe. As Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb said ‘This issue requires a fundamental examination of our society and public safety’”
“As an Assemblyman, the safety and well-being of my constituents and all New Yorkers is my top priority.
Recent tragedies like the Christmas Eve shooting of members of the West Webster Fire Department in my hometown have brought this legislation to the forefront. I continue to offer my condolences and sympathies to the Chiapperini and Kaczowka families who suffered from these heinous actions. Actions which go beyond human understanding in their brutality and scope.
While the Governor’s gun policy legislation has some provisions which I support, I did not support this legislation because I believe it restricts the rights and unfairly imposes mandates on legal, law abiding and responsible gun owners.
I will only support legislation which harshly punishes criminals who are convicted of violent crimes and those who commit crimes with illegal guns.
I also stand for legislation which prevents people with a history of violence and/or mental illness from acquiring firearms.”
Assemblyman decries secretive legislative process
Assemblyman Ray Walter (R,C,I-Amherst) cast his vote in opposition to legislation restricting all New Yorkers’ Second Amendment rights. The measure was rushed to a vote without sufficient time allowed to examine, research or publicly debate its merits.
“In the wake of recent violent tragedies, our focus should be on the safety of our families and communities, not political posturing and public relations” Walter explained. “As the father of two children, I understand the need to protect our communities and I will continue to strive for legislation that fosters safety and health for all New Yorkers. Today’s rushed vote and muzzled debate is a calculated public relations opportunity to grab headlines rather than protect kids. Hundreds of my constituents – law-abiding gun owners – have reached out to me to express their concerns about this legislation. These people were deprived of their voice in this debate.
“I support the reasonable aspects of this legislation that will stop criminals and individuals with a history of mental illness from obtaining weapons, but I remain in strong opposition to infringing upon the constitutional rights of law-abiding New Yorkers. The end result of this legislation could potentially turn law-abiding rifle owners into criminals. The reality is that so-called ‘Assault Weapon’ bans have been proven to be completely ineffective in reducing the murder rate and this legislation would have done nothing to prevent the tragedy in Newtown. Violence is a complex issue with no easy solution; it requires patience and rational discussion. This is merely an illusory reform.”