Update: NY gun law exemption for retired police advances

Posted at: 06/21/2013 11:43 AM | Updated at: 06/21/2013 5:49 PM
By: Berkeley Brean | WHEC.com

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There was some drama at the state capital when you were asleep last night. Around 2 o'clock in the morning, State Senators got a surprise. It was a vote to amend the controversial gun law in New York. The amendment exempts retired police officers from the new restrictions on ammunition and assault weapons as long as they are department issued firearms given to the officers for their job, before they retired.

Our question was simple: why do certain people get protection from the state that others -- all non-police officers -- don't?

Today we talked with Ken Mathison -- he heads up the group called SCOPE. They're against the SAFE Act in its entirety, but they also don't like the fact that former cops would be exempt from some parts of the law.
We also talked with former Monroe County Sheriff Commander Gary Pudup -- who supports the exemption.

Here's why.

Gary Pudup, retired MCSO Commander: This particular exemption makes sense because there are circumstances where a retired police officer may be in a possession of a weapon that he was issued in the course of his duties or had to purchase.
Brean: Why would a retired police officer get protections or exemptions that the average person isn't entitled to? >
Pudup: Well just to be clear, the retired officers are not entitled to rights that other folks have.
Brean: This thing might do that though.
Pudup: Well only in that this is something the officer already possesses.

Now SCOPE's point of view:

Brean: What if the police officers say -- once a police officer, always a police officer, so therefore we need this exemption?
Ken Mathison, SCOPE: Many of them will probably say that. You shouldn't have special privileges because you worked for the government.
Brean: Is there anything you would accept?
Mathison: Um, it all depends. The things we would accept would gut the bill so much they might as well repeal it.

Here's some of the debate on the senate floor.

Sen. Kathleen Marchione:  "When it comes to the safe act, we shouldn't amend it, we should appeal it."
Sen. Patrick Gallivan: "Police officers are different. Our laws treat them different, we charge them with different things."
Sen. John DeFrancisco: "Law abiding citizens are law abiding citizens no matter what their former profession was."
Sen. Michael Golden: "It's a tough vote for a lot of people in this room but it's the right thing to do."

This exemption passed the Senate in its late night vote. It passed the Assembly in May. In a radio interview today, Governor Andrew Cuomo said he supports the exemption and will sign it.

Click here to read the amendment.

Here's our earlier report:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he'll sign legislation to exempt retired police from the state's new restrictions on large-capacity magazines and guns defined as assault weapons.
The legislation passed Friday says the exemption would apply to officers who bought or were issued restricted weapons in the course of their duties and who retired in good standing.
They would have to re-qualify for right after they retire and register those guns.
The law was enacted in January, a month after the Newtown, Conn., school massacre. It generally limits the number of rounds in a magazine to seven, bans large-capacity magazines, bans sales of assault-style weapons and requires federal background checks in private gun sales.
It requires registration of popular semi-automatics like AR-15s with one military-style feature previously sold legally in New York.

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