New York State Exposed: Does the Safe Act make you safer?

Updated: 07/10/2014 6:28 PM
Created: 07/10/2014 6:39 AM WHEC.com
By: Amanda Ciavarri

Governor Andrew Cuomo said the goal was to make sure tragedies, like Sandy Hook and the shooting at the Denver movie theater, never happen in New York. That is why he signed the SAFE Act into law a year and a half ago. 

The law makes it illegal to buy what the state determines is an assault weapon. If you already had one, it has to be registered. Current law enforcement officers are exempt from this.

When Governor Andrew Cuomo was in Rochester to sign the SAFE Act into law, he said the SAFE Act is all about keeping people safe. 

John 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.”

A few months ago, News10NBC sat down with John Zito. With more than 20 years in law enforcement and working as a paramedic, Zito has seen a lot on local streets.

Zito said, “It has been my experience, as a paramedic, that I have seen possibly two in 28 years, two incidents involving assault weapons.”

Is the SAFE Act working in Rochester? In the last five years in Rochester, the murder rate has gone up 17 percent, but not all of those involve guns. According to the Rochester Police Department, in 2013, firearms were used in 69 percent of homicides. That number is down from 78 percent in 2012.

Bill Nojay, (R), New York State Assembly, 133rd District, said, “It was a political action that the governor wanted to be first, beating out President Obama to radical gun control. Well, he achieved that, but it will not have any impact on crime.”

News10NBC looked into charges in the first year of the SAFE Act. About 1,200 people were arrested and charged under the SAFE Act. A majority of those arrested, a thousand of them were from the New York City area.

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

Another man, with a background in law enforcement, has always stood by the SAFE Act. Lt. Governor Bob Duffy served as the Rochester Police Chief for seven years in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. News10NBC had the chance to ask him if he still stands by the SAFE Act, a year and a half later.

Lt. Governor Bob Duffy said, “I think the Governor has tried to take steps to reduce the number of guns on the streets. Here is the thing for those who criticized it. There are a lot of people in public office around this country that would have done nothing for that problem.”

But Zito feels what the government is trying to do with the SAFE Act, isn't what the people want.

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

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