On Wednesday, Dec. 3, I was proud to be one of several speakers at an informational forum at Paladin Center in Carmel about New York state’s gun laws. The event was intended to clarify what the SAFE Act means for New York gun owners, answer questions about the laws, and dispel some pervasive myths about the law and its consequences.
Roughly 200 Putnam County residents were in attendance, as well as several members of the press, and the event was filmed on multiple cameras. I was disheartened to see the event mischaracterized by Philipstown.info as a discussion of strategies for “thwarting” the SAFE Act (“Putnam Leaders, Firearm Owners, Continue Fight Against Gun Laws and Disclosure,” Dec. 5). I was even more disappointed my remarks were misquoted, reporting that I “signaled that enforcing the SAFE Act remains a low priority” for the district attorney’s office.
Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, I discussed at great length the Dec. 1, 2013, decision by U.S. District Court Chief Judge William Skretney, which upheld most provisions of the SAFE Act but ruled one provision — the seven bullet magazine limit — was unconstitutional.
As I explained that night, Skretney ruled the seven-bullet limit was arbitrary and capricious with no real legal basis behind it. I agree.
Although Skretney’s Western District decision is not yet binding here in the Southern District, as district attorney I do have the legal authority to follow it, and that is what I have chosen to do. On July 18, 2014, I sent a letter to the Putnam County Fish and Game Association confirming that I would not prosecute anyone arrested for violating the seven-round magazine limit, which had been found unconstitutional. Even the NY State Police have revised their enforcement guidelines to reflect Skretney’s decision, and will not arrest those whose only crime is possessing more than seven bullets in an otherwise legal magazine.
I made it very clear that night — and will reiterate now — that I took an oath to uphold the law, to enforce the law, and to do so equally without fear or favor. Enforcing the SAFE Act is part of that oath. In fact, I’ve had to have alterations made to my own personal firearms to bring them into compliance. When I was asked what would happen if Skretney’s decision was overturned, I replied that I would uphold the law, regardless of my personal opinion on it. And I will.
I have respect for the value of local media and the need for residents to be informed. However, it is misleading and sensational reporting like this that necessitates the need for educational events like the one at Paladin Center, to educate people about the true facts of the matter.
Putnam County District Attorney
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