Meeting halfway on gun law

New York state has always been two states — New York City and the rest of the state.

It’s good to see the state Legislature accepting that reality.

Last year, the state Legislature approved, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed, a minimum wage increase that is higher in New York City and other big cities than it is for rural areas where the cost of living isn’t as expensive. It was a surprising realization from downstate Democrats that the needs of New York City and the state’s other big cities are starkly different from rural areas like Chautauqua County.

Following that same logic, legislation has been introduced in the state Senate and Assembly that would repeal much of the SAFE Act in upstate New York while leaving the legislation in place in Kings, Queens, Richmond, New York and Bronx counties. The legislation is co-sponsored in the state Senate by state Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean, and in the Assembly by state Assemblyman Andre Goodell, R-Jamestown, and Joe Giglio, R-Gowanda.

The legislation would reverse many elements of the SAFE Act including gun licensing re-certification requirements, storage mandates, firearm seizures and registries, and information collected on gun owners. It would end the five-year recertification requirement for pistol permits; fully repeal an ammunition database; repeal the as-yet unimplemented statewide License and Record Database and authorize the transfer of firearms, rifles and shotguns to family members as part of an estate.

The SAFE Act has accomplished nothing for Chautauqua County residents. It has made more work for Sheriff Joe Gerace, harassed legal gun owners and done nothing to prevent guns from ending up in the hands of criminals. A statewide repeal would be the preferred action, but removing the SAFE Act’s onerous restrictions on Chautauqua County and the rest of the rural counties in New York state is an acceptable compromise. The state Legislature should pass this legislation and Cuomo can sign it.

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