Confusion and Delays Mar SAFE Act Implementation

Hastily passed gun control legislation in chaos as deadlines loom

Gov. Cuomo / AP
March 25, 2014

Two key portions of New York’s sweeping gun control legislation are not ready to be implemented, and questions have been raised as to when they will be prepared.

Cuomo’s SAFE Act requires gun owners to recertify their permits every five years and mandates the creation of an ammunition database to keep track of ammo sales.

The pilot program that was to begin the recertification process is in chaos. An email obtained by the Washington Free Beacon shows that nearly two dozen meetings this year have been cancelled by the governor’s office.

Gennesee County, one of seven counties chosen to take part in the pilot, has withdrawn from the program. An email from the county clerk stated that they were informed on Feb. 12 that the rollout of the recertification process that was to begin on Feb. 14 would be delayed.

"Initially they indicated that it might be June or July; however, by the end of our conference call they were stating that it would probably be the fourth quarter of this year," the email states.

"I received 23 emails from the program director of the Governor's Commission. Each one of the emails cancelled one of this year's meetings including the final meeting of the year on December 31st," the email states.

As a result of the delays and the "total uncertainty of the plans for implementation," Gennesee County said it was withdrawing its participation.

According to the Shooters Committee on Political Education (SCOPE), six of the seven counties have now withdrawn.

"Seven counties were involved in the pilot program," said Stephen Aldstadt, president of SCOPE. "After months of trying to coordinate with the state, a number of counties have withdrawn. I believe Albany County is the only one that has not withdrawn."

Requests for comment from the Gennesee County clerk and Albany County clerk were not returned.

Albany County’s confusion with the SAFE Act and renewing permits is evident on its website. It cites the new law concerning renewable pistol permits and then says, "We believe this means: The State Police will be responsible for this new recertification process, and they have not yet informed County Clerks how they are going to implement this program [emphasis in the original]."

It is also unclear when the database for ammunition sales will be online. The state police superintendent told lawmakers in early February that the database would not be ready any time soon.

Indications are that a vendor has not been hired to create the database.

"At this point, they don’t even have a vendor to put that system together," said Aldstadt. He indicated the governor’s office may be holding off on the implementation for other reasons.

"There’s also a political motivation here," he said. "My feeling is they would like to see a lot of this put off until after the election."

"It was a bad law to begin with, passed in the middle of the night, in a message of necessity. If it were really a necessity, why is it taking over a year to implement it?" said Budd Schroeder, chairman of the board of SCOPE. "It’s proved that in a year, the law doesn’t work, it’s not working, and it probably will never work because criminals don’t obey laws."

"The database needed additional time to get it up and running. I’m not sure of a hard time table," said Michelle Hook, the governor’s press secretary. She said she would work on a statement regarding the ammunition database and the pistol recertification process.

New York State Police Public Information Officer Darcy Wells, when asked about the vendor for the ammo database and its timetable, said in an email, "Michelle Hook is working on this for you. One of us will get back to you."

Neither Hook nor Wells followed through on the request for comment and information.

The Free Beacon reviewed hundreds of contracts on the New York State Procurement website to determine if the state awarded any contracts for a database for SAFE. None were found. A review of additional contracts under technology, software, hardware, and information technology services showed no contract for ammunition sales.

The state’s guidelines to law enforcement are also unclear. In explaining the new law, section 265.35, the guidelines state that having more than 10 rounds is a Class A misdemeanor. Then the guidelines state, "But … there’s a catch …"

"This is what happens when, without debate, a law is passed by a dictatorial type of governor who wants to get his name in lights, who possibly has his eye on the presidency," Schroeder said.

A major rally to repeal SAFE is scheduled April 1 at the mall in Albany. Donald Trump, gubernatorial candidate Robert Astorino, and numerous others are scheduled as guest speakers.

"We are calling for a general strike of the six million legal gun owners in the state to take the day off from work and stand up for their rights," Alstadt said.