Rep. Collins introduces Second Amendment Guarantee Act

Congressman Chris Collins (R, NY-24) said Monday he will introduce a bill to repeal the portions of the SAFE Act which most impact sportsmen and women. (WHAM photo)

Honeoye Falls, N.Y. (WHAM) - Opponents of New York state's controversial SAFE Act are turning to Congress for help.

Congressman Chris Collins (R, NY-24) said he will introduce a bill to repeal the portions of the SAFE Act which most impact sportsmen and women.

The SAFE Act - which became law in 2013 - lumps the shotguns and rifles used by hunters and sportsmen in with all handguns, including those Governor Cuomo called assault weapons.

"This is the first time I can remember any legislation that was more harmful to law-abiding citizens - legally - than it is to criminals," said Tim Andrews of SCOPE.

"Governor, you are on notice. We are going to repeal and declare, null-and-void, your SAFE Act," Collins told a cheering crowd at Rochester Brooks Gun Club in Honeoye Falls.

On Monday afternoon, Collins unveiled the bill, which he refers to as SAGA - the Second Amendment Guarantee Act.

"Knowing the members as I do, we will have overwhelming support on this bill," Collins said while visiting the Rochester Brooks Gun Club. "Certainly, the minute they find out that the NRA and SCOPE may well be scoring this related to their Congressional score card, we'll get universal support."

SAGA seeks to limit a state's ability to regulate or impose penalties on rifles and shotguns. For example, the SAFE Act Provision limiting rifles to 10 rounds would be replaced with federal standards which currently do not have a limit. Yet it will have no impact on magazine restrictions for handguns.

"It's a good start and better than trying to wait for the whole enchilada," said Gary Zelinski of Canandaigua. "You've got to do something at this point."

New York courts have upheld the SAFE Act, and Republican proposals at the state level - including one to exempt upstate - will not pass without the support of Assembly Democrats from downstate.

"They have a different view on gun ownership," said Senator Rob Ortt (R) Niagara County. "Many of them equate it with crime. We equate the Second Amendment with freedom."

State Senator Rich Funke said, "This federal legislation may well be what we need to restore the freedom New Yorkers have enjoyed for centuries."

The bill asks conservative Republicans to limit the rights of states, but Collins predicted the bill will have the support it needs. "We're not going to allow a state to stomp on your rights for religion, and we're not going to let them stomp on the Second Amendment, and that's the difference," said Collins. "It is state's rights until they override a constitutional amendment."

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a statement Monday afternoon, blasting the bill as a, "blatant political ploy," and, "disturbing."

"In 2013, following the Sandy Hook tragedy, New York State rose to the occasion and passed the toughest gun safety laws in the nation. Democrats and Republicans came together to ban assault weapons from coming into the state, ban high capacity magazines and keep guns out of the hands of the dangerously mentally ill, while safeguarding the constitutional rights of law-abiding gun owners.
"Now, in a blatant political ploy, 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.
"This disturbing bill puts New Yorkers in harm's way - and to make it worse, there is no basis for it. None. The courts have resoundingly upheld New York's law as consistent with the Constitution. We understand that Washington is in turmoil right now - we just ask that they don't do anything to set back the progress we've been able to make despite them."