NY-22 Minute: Brindisi Questioned on Gun Policy By Luke Perry
Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi recently discussed school shootings and gun policy with Bill Keeler on Keeler in the Morning (WIBX 950 AM). Brindisi described related threats at local schools as “very scary.” These threats have to be taken seriously, particularly in light of what happened in Florida.
When asked about mental health assistance, Brindisi said this was a regular debate in the New York legislature. Services were cut locally, including for adult mental health, despite bipartisan opposition from state and county representatives.
Citizens seeking mental health services are now directed to Syracuse, where there is a wait list. Brindisi believes funding is needed for community based mental health treatment.
When asked about gun control, Brindisi claimed there is no single answer. “I’m a strong supporter of the Second Amendment,” Brindisi responded, and did not vote for New York’s Securing Ammunitions and Firearms Act (SAFE Act). The law is the only comprehensive reform of gun policy at the state level since 20 children were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School five years ago.
Brindisi and Senator James Seward (R, District 51) sponsored bills “to take care of some of the more onerous parts of the SAFE Act that we thought was an overreach that really hurt law abiding gun owners.”
Brindisi also stressed the importance of keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals, including people who commit domestic violence, and the “violently mentally ill." Universal background checks are a good first step, which over 90 percent of Republicans and Democrats support. Support for various gun related public safety measures have increased in recent years.
Stronger school safety is necessary as well. Brindisi would like to see schools built with shooting related safety in mind, akin to fire codes. He does not support arming teachers, something he and Representative Tenney agree on. A related concern Brindisi discussed was confusion for law enforcement on scene differentiating between perpetrators and armed teachers defending kids.
When asked about a recent gun reform bill passed in Florida, Brindisi expressed willingness to discuss raising the purchase age for certain guns, such as semi-automatic rifles. He “probably" would support this but would like to talk more with law enforcement.
Brindisi does support a ten day waiting period to purchase a firearm. Brindisi stated the FBI prefers ten days to the three day period passed by the Florida legislature. Brindisi also supports banning bump stocks, which can enable semiautomatic weapons to fire automatically.
Brindisi was asked about President Trump’s comment: "I like taking guns away early. Take the guns first, go through due process second." Brindisi disagreed, stating the “biggest frustration” surrounding the SAFE Act and gun policy generally is lack of due process. “Due process is number one,” Brindisi stated. After gun owners "are adjudicated by a judge that there is an extreme risk,” then guns should be confiscated.
Brindisi was asked about his rating by the National Rifle Association (NRA), which was an “A,” the last he checked. According to Project Vote Smart, the NRA endorsed Brindisi in 2016, the last time he ran for the New York State Assembly, and gave his positions on gun rights a 100 percent rating in 2017, the most recent available.
Brindisi cited his opposition to the SAFE Act as evidence of his willingness to buck the Democratic Party when appropriate. Brindisi views his job, if elected, to not be a rubber stamp for the president, nor someone who constantly opposes the president, whether this is Donald Trump or a Democrat.
A staffer in Representative Tenney’s reelection campaign recently suggested to me that Brindisi’s position towards guns is helpful for his campaign. This is an open question.
On the one hand, Republicans outnumber Democrats in NY-22, which has a substantial amount of gun owners who oppose the SAFE Act and additional limitations on gun freedoms. On the other hand, Democratic enthusiasm locally has been bolstered by liberal women activists, most of whom are not inclined to support conservative approaches to gun policy. Nationally, women are much less likely to be gun owners, and those who are, more strongly favor public safety related gun restrictions.
This has not hurt Anthony Brindisi thus far, primarily because of unified liberal opposition to Representative Tenney, but it may at some point, given he is out of step with Democrats on this issue.
Noticeable absent in the discussion was any mention of gun related suicide. Public health professionals have long noted that suicide in the U.S. is twice as prevalent as homicide.
The full interview can be heard here.
Luke Perry (@PolSciLukePerry) is Chair and Professor of Government at Utica College.
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