Tuesday, October 21, 2014

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Governor Signs NY SAFE Act in Rochester

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Buffalo: Governor Signs NY SAFE Act in Rochester
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A day after signing into law a tough new anti-gun bill, Governor Andrew Cuomo came to Rochester for a ceremonial signing of the same legislation. The governor had a message for those opposed to the new regulations.

Governor Andrew Cuomo is a gun owner. He says the new law will have "very little effect on" most legitimate gun owners in New York. He's more concerned with keeping guns out of the wrong hands.

"Mentally ill people should not have access to guns. Criminals should not have access to guns."

The governor ceremoniallly signed the same bill he signed in Albany the day before, explaining it's significance following a spate of high profile mass shootings, including one just outside Rochester on Christmas Eve morning.

"Webster was a painful mistake. Unfortunately we had made that mistake many, many times before."

The West Webster Fire Department wasn't at the ceremonial signing, but other first responders were well-represented. The legislation makes shooting and killing a first responder an offense that carries life in prison with no shot at parole.

"We want people to know that we understand what happened in Webster. It informed our discussion, and that first responders who put their life on the line every day should be protected by society."

The NY SAFE Act, as it's known, has faced criticism. Cuomo's Rochester visit was met by protesters outside City Hall.

Inside, he had a response to those who claim the legislation was fast-tracked, without chance for public input.

"There is nothing in this bill that hasn't been discussed for years and years and years. And in truth, the exact opposite is a fact. How many people have to die before government acts?"

The fact the governor was coming to Rochester to discuss New York's tough new gun law wasn't made public until Wednesday morning. At the same time, President Obama was in Washington DC, discussing his own proposals for tougher federal gun laws.

"And now it is time for other states and the nation to follow," said Chief James Sheppard of the Rochester Police Department.

Sheppard, who addressed gun violence last week just before Cuomo's State of the State speech in Albany, praised the new law.

"These are the steps the law enforcement community has been waiting for in order to crack down on gun violence and keep our state safe," Sheppard said.

The Governor calls other provisions of the law – tougher penalties for illegal handguns, clip limits for weapons – "common sense" measures which he says "should have been done years ago.

"This law is going to make this state a safer state," said Cuomo.

Click on the video below to hear Cuomo's full remarks from the podium.

Buffalo: Governor Signs NY SAFE Act in Rochester
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