New York State Exposed: Is the Safe Act impacting local jobs?

Posted at: 12/05/2013 6:35 AM
Updated at: 12/05/2013 9:14 PM

It's a law that News10NBC has heard so many complaints from many of you. The SAFE Act bans assault weapons and limits the number of rounds in a magazine among other things.

News10NBC has solid numbers on how many jobs are leaving the state because of it. Governor Cuomo says it's all about making our communities safer, but when we asked him last month about jobs moving out of state because of the law, he didn't completely agree.

After our first story aired, we heard from a number of gun shops and manufacturers who say the SAFE Act restrictions have taken away 50 percent or more of their business and for some, moving out of the state was a must if they wanted to stay in business. The losses add up to hundreds and even one job gone is having a big ripple effect.

Amanda Ciavarri asked, “Hundreds maybe thousands of jobs in upstate New York have been lost because of the New York Safe Act. It is driving gun retailers and gun manufactures across the border to Pennsylvania.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo said, “Yeah, I don't think that is correct on the facts.”

Hundreds of jobs have already left the state. American Tactical in the Rochester area is closing its shop, packing up and heading to South Carolina. It started the moving process last month. The company says it is partially moving because it wants to be located in a gun friendly state. So what is New York losing? American Tactical says it is creating 117 new jobs in South Carolina and investing $2.7 million.

Kahr Arms, downstate in Rockland County, announced in October it is moving to Pennsylvania. The reason is uncertainty about gun laws following the passage of the SAFE Act. It plans to create 100 to 200 new jobs across the border in Pennsylvania. 

In East Rochester, Beikirch's is still open for business. But after the SAFE Act, it needed to make a dramatic change. 

Hans Farnung, CEO/President, said, “First thing, I did was look to Pennsylvania to open up another outlet, or gun shop where I can ship the products that I could not sell in New York State as of April 15. As it was, we found a gun shop in Knoxville, Pennsylvania and purchased that.”

Hans Farnung is the CEO of Beikirch's and he agreed to talk with News10NBC. Before the SAFE Act, Farnung planned to open two additional stores in New York, but now those shops and their jobs are in Pennsylvania.

Farnung said, “We are looking to expand further and that would mean more employees that are not in this state.”

Farnung says with gun manufacturers like American Tactical and Kahr Arms leaving, there is a serious ripple effect. Those losses put other positions in danger.

Anthony Testa, Just Right Carbines, said, “We employee machinists, we employee delivery people, we employee the office people that send us the bill for these parts so you are looking at somewhere in the neighborhood of 150-160 other employees that are dependent on us creating these weapons and selling them.”

Anthony Testa is the general manager of Just Right Carbines. It is staying open in Canandaigua. 

Testa said, “The only reason we didn't seriously consider it is because of the owners. At this stage, we have fairly deep roots in the area and they weren't interested in leaving.”

But right after the SAFE Act took effect, they started getting offers from other states to move.

Testa said, “Offered us a wide range of amenities and incentives to take our business there. It doesn't look like something we are going to pursue but it is interesting the range of offers we were made.”

Offers came in from North and South Dakota, North and South Carolina, from Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Pennsylvania and multiple offers from Texas. And, while Just Right Carbines did not accept any of the offers, other gun manufacturers in New York State have accepted and are now gone.

Testa says Cuomo is making New York State a very hard place for anyone in the gun business to do business.

Testa said, “Well it certainly doesn't make it any easier. New York State is one of the most difficult places to do business from a regulatory, taxes stand point from an expense stand point, to begin with. They love to take our taxes and our payroll taxes but we aren't allowed to sell our weapons here?”

News10NBC did reached out again to Governor Cuomo's office, but never got a response. 

What does law enforcement think of the law?

News10NBC spoke to a man who has 20 plus years in law enforcement, working in corrections and almost 30 years of experience being a paramedic. John Zito says his opinion does not reflect any of his previous employers or his current one.

News10NBC has heard a lot of frustration from law enforcement around the SAFE Act. Some have even filed lawsuits, but Zito has been the first to step up and tell us why he's against it.

Zito said, “I know what I see and I know what weapons are being used. The weapons that are used are not weapons being banned by the SAFE Act.”

Zito has seen a lot on local streets and he doesn't believe the SAFE Act is getting to the root of the problem, which is stopping violence. 

Zito said, “It has been my experience are as paramedic I have seen possibly two in 28 years, two incidents involving assault weapons, what people refer to as AK-47 or AK-15, they are rarely used.”

Recently, Zito was involved with a seize where police found a felon with an assault rifle and that person wasn't supposed to have a gun.

Since the beginning, Governor Andrew Cuomo has said the SAFE Act is all about keeping you safe.

Gov. Cuomo said, “Enough people have lost their lives, lets act and take corrective measures.”


Last month, we questioned the governor.

Amanda Ciavarri asked, “How is the SAFE Act improving safety in upstate New York?”

Gov. 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 about.”

But there has been a lot of push back from gun owners and even law enforcement.   

Ciavarri said, “I have not met or spoken to anyone in law enforcement that is in support of the SAFE Act.”

Zito said, “It is certainly concerning. It is concerning that the government that is suppose to be by the people for the people, is not listening to the people.”

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. Even lawsuits have been filed by people and groups who feel it's unconstitutional, including the New York State Sheriff's Association and five individual sheriffs across the state.

Part of the law restricts gun owners from carrying more than seven rounds in a magazine. Zito says if that's suppose to help make our community safer, criminals are not following it.


Zito said, “Absolutely not why would they, in the first place, follow a rule that will make them an easier target. They know police officers, and people enforcing the laws have generally high capacity and are legally able to own it so they are just going to load to full capacity and use them as necessary.”

NY Senators who voted for The SAFE Act

YES (43): Adams, Addabbo, Avella, Boyle, Breslin, Carlucci, Diaz, Dilan, Espaillat, Felder, Flanagan, Fuschillo, Gianaris, Gipson, Golden, Grisanti, Hannon, Hassell-Thomps, Hoylman, Kennedy, Klein, Krueger, Lanza, Latimer, LaValle, Marcellino, Martins, Montgomery, O'Brien, Parker, Peralta, Perkins, Rivera, Sampson, Sanders, Savino, Serrano, Skelos, Smith, Squadron, Stavisky, Stewart-Cousin, Valesky

NO (18): Ball, Bonacic, DeFrancisco, Farley, Gallivan, Griffo, Larkin, Libous, Little, Marchione, Maziarz, Nozzolio, O'Mara, Ranzenhofer, Ritchie, Robach, Seward, Young

To see if your Assembly member voted for the SAFE Act, click here.