NY-22 Minute: Brindisi Out of Step with Democrats on Gun Policy By Luke Perry

NY-22 Minute: Brindisi Out of Step with Democrats on Gun Policy By Luke Perry

Democrats have intensified their appeals for legislative efforts to stop gun violence in the aftermath of the most deadly mass shooting in American history. Examples include Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand and Gabby Giffords, a victim of gun violence herself. Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, where 26 people were shot and killed at Newtown Elementary School in 2012, including 20 children, has been among the most vocal.  

Gun policy illuminates one of the biggest splits between Anthony Brindisi, who opposes New York's SAFE Act, and Democrats at large, who supported President Obama’s frequent and emotional efforts to enact gun policy reforms targeting public safety.

Assemblyman Brindisi voted against the SAFE Act (2013) which he later said “speaks volumes in terms of how I felt about that legislation.” Brindisi subsequently claimed “there has been no tangible evidence that the SAFE Act has increased safety in the two years since its passing.”

In 2015, Brindisi and NY State Senator James Seward (R-Oneonta) proposed four bills aimed at repealing aspects of the law.

S.2611 –To amend the SAFE Act to once again allow for the gifting of long guns to close relatives and to holders of valid New York State pistol licenses.

S.2612 – To repeal the provision of the SAFE Act that was struck down in federal court which limits the number of legally permissible cartridges in a ten round magazine to seven.

S.2613 – To terminate a state program requiring all ammunition retailers register with the state and conduct background checks on all customers. The bill also redirects state funding allocated to this program to public school districts to assist in the hiring of school resource officers.

S.2614 – To prohibit county judges and other licensing officers from imposing extraneous restrictions when issuing pistol and handgun licenses.

Brindisi and Seward believed a full repeal of the SAFE Act was politically impossible, prompting the targeted approach. In upstate New York, for instance, Brindisi stated that people do, and should be able to, use guns for recreational purposes and to defend their homes. Brindisi believes that many of his constituents “find several of the SAFE Act provisions burdensome” and considers himself a “strong supporter of a person’s right to bear arms,” while supporting background checks on gun purchasers, including at gun shows.

In 2017, Brindisi supported the efforts of NY State Senator Robert Ortt (R-Tonawanda) to repeal the SAFE Act everywhere in New York State except for New York City. Though supportive, Brindisi was skeptical the New York State Assembly would take up the bill and that Governor Cuomo would sign it.

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Most Americans favor background checks, prohibiting gun purchases by people with mental illnesses and people on the No-Fly List, and banning high capacity clips and assault weapons. The latter two prohibitions are more divided along partisan lines. Most Republicans prioritize protecting gun rights over controlling gun ownership. The opposite holds true for Democrats.

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This data suggests that Anthony Brindisi is an outlier within the Democratic Party when it comes to gun policy and offers one commonality with Claudia Tenney, who also voted against the SAFE Act and has been critical of the law.

 

Luke Perry (@PolSciLukePerry) is Chair and Professor of Government at Utica College. 

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