New York State Exposed: Is the SAFE Act keeping you safe?

Posted at: 11/07/2013 6:05 AM
Updated at: 11/07/2013 7:14 PM
By: Amanda Ciavarri

The New York SAFE Act has been a hot topic since day one. Governor Cuomo signed it into law in January. Now, 10 months later, as part of News10NBC's exclusive, “New York State Exposed” series, we're asking is it keeping our communities safer?

The law changed a lot, requiring New York State to have the toughest gun laws in the country. The law bans the purchase of assault weapons. If you had the weapons before January 15, you have to register them. It limits the number of rounds you can legally have in a magazine to seven and requires mental health professionals to report credible threats from patients.

Ten months after the SAFE Act was voted into law, are we any safer?

Republican Assemblyman Bill Nojay said, “The SAFE Act, Andrew Cuomo's gun law never had anything to do with reducing crime or preventing tragedy.”

To this day, lawmakers on both sides, both democrats and republicans, disagree over the answer.

Democratic Senator Mike Gianaris, of Queens, said, “People are not allowed to own bazookas in this country, so why should rapid fire machine guns be something that is permitted?”

But, local Assemblyman Bill Nojay says the SAFE Act was a "knee jerk" reaction by Governor Cuomo after tragedies around the country and right in our backyard.   

Nojay said, “If we wanted to do something to prevent West Webster, the answer is not tougher gun laws, it is tougher laws with manslaughter and murders, so they stay behind bars.”

News10NBC Amanda Ciavarri traveled to the state capital in Albany where the SAFE Act all began last January and where Governor Cuomo signed the SAFE Act into law in the middle of the night. He says it is all about safety, preventing fire arms from being used in violent crimes, but has it?

News10NBC took that question straight to Governor Cuomo. 

News10NBC's Amanda Ciavarri said, “How is the SAFE Act improving safety in Upstate New York?” 

Governor Cuomo said, “Well reasonable gun control, and keeping the guns out of the hands of criminals and mentally ill people is the first step, and that's what the SAFE Act is all about. Second Amendment rights, yes, but not for criminals and not people who are mentally ill.”

News10NBC wanted numbers, concrete evidence to show you  if the SAFE Act is working or not. But those concrete numbers are hard to come by. The Rochester Police Department did release new crime stats last month that show shootings are up from this time last year.

Senator Gianaris said, “My priority as a public servant, as an elected official, is first and foremost to make sure people in this state are safe. Ultimately, you aren't going to be able to stop everything, but I think there is a recognition that we need to stop the surge of gun violence.”

There are towns, police groups and homeowners in our area who are against the SAFE Act. Some saying it restricts their constitutional rights and was passed in secrecy.  Lawsuits have also been filed.

In fact, according to "We the People",  a website that tracks resolutions for and against the SAFE Act, 52 out of 62 counties in New York have passed resolutions opposing the SAFE act. But, despite a public outcry, there are others who support it, like a group we found online. 

Fred Calcagno is the owner of American Sportsman in East Rochester.  He deals with the ins and outs of the SAFE Act everyday. So, what's his opinion? Has the SAFE Act improved safety?

Fred Calcagno, American Sportsman owner, said, “So many people call it the “Unsafe act” cause the only people who are safer are the criminals who are out to break into your house. By law, they are criminals, they do not follow laws, they don't follow capacity laws. They could have a 20 round capacity in their firearm and come in my house and I am suppose to have seven, where I previously had a firearm that could hold 15 shots. I now have one on me that holds seven to defend against who ever comes in with however many rounds they want. That puts me in a dangerous situation. It makes my life less safe and they call that the SAFE Act, that's wrong, dead wrong.”