HAMBURG, N.Y. (WIVB)- A Western New York member of Congress hopes to use a federal bill to overrule the SAFE Act.
Rep. Chris Collins’ bill proposes reversing restrictions on shotguns and rifles. He announced the Second Amendment Guarantee Act, or SAGA, Monday at the Hamburg Rod and Gun Club.
“Semi-automatic rifles or shotguns should not be restricted in any state beyond any restrictions at the federal level,” said Collins.
Certain shotguns and rifles have been banned in New York since Governor Cuomo signed the SAFE Act into law in 2013. It broadened the definition of an assault weapon to include any gun that had at least one “military feature” like a pistol grip or thumbhole stock.
Anyone in possession of a gun with those features had to register it, or remove those elemtents.
“The Governor has put these restrictions on that make no sense whatsoever,” said Collins.
His bill would prevent states or local governments from regulating, prohibiting, or imposing a licensing or registration requirement for shotguns or rifles, and the guns’ ammunition.
The bill leaves out handguns because Collins said the legislation would be too hard to pass with handguns included. It also doesn’t address background checks for gun purchases.
Collins told reporters he’s been working on the bill for about six months with SCOPE and the NRA, he’s confident it will become a law.
Lawmakers who support the bill will receive a higher NRA score, said Collins.
Collins was joined at the press conference by NYS Assemblyman David DiPietro, Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard, Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw and Erie County Legislator Ted Morton. Each spoke up in support of the legislation.
Governor Cuomo immediately issued a statement that said, “Chris Collins is turning his back on New Yorkers and putting millions of people at profound risk. By fighting to roll back vital legislation that protects the people of the Empire State, Collins is demonstrating once again that he is beholden to no one but the gun lobby and entrenched special interests.”
Cuomo added that the SAFE Act was a bi-partisan effort to ban assault weapons after the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
“I don’t believe for a second the SAFE Act would save any lives,” said Collins. “It’s embarrassing to suggest to anyone who lost loved ones at Sandy Hook that a single thing passed yet would’ve saved a single life, shame on anyone for even suggesting it.”
Outside the event in Hamburg, constituent Susan Braen protested.
“I don’t think the citizens of New York who did not vote for Trump and who only elected Collins because his district is so heavily gerrymandered, are necessarily going to buy into federal control of all gun laws,” she said.
Braen also argued that Collins should stay out of state lawmaking.
“Rather than protecting our water, our air and our health rights he’s busy trying to take over state law associated with gun control and I don’t really think that’s his job,” she said.
New Yorkers Against Gun Violence told News 4 they reached out to Collins to find out where the event would be held and never got a response. Local representative Paul McQuillen said the design features currently banned, make the guns more lethal.
McQuillen also told News 4 that making firearms more accessible, increases the risk for a gun injury or death and they will seek more federal regulations if Collins’ bill becomes law.