Stec warns against state gun database

Assemblyman Dan Stec is warning against a provision in the state budget which would fund a state database for gun records, required by last year’s Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act.

Stec, a Republican from Queensbury, objects to a $3.2 million allocation in the budget to implement the database. That line item falls within a provision that gives state police $88.9 million for technical police service programs. The state gave $27.7 million for a SAFE Act database last year, according to news reports.

“If they never create it, I’m fine with that,” Stec said.

Stec, a pistol permit holder and hunter, said he believes everyone in the Legislature wants to prevent gun violence from occurring, but he questions whether a new database is needed. He said background checks prior to the law were adequate.

There has been no official announcement by state police or the governor’s office of when the database will be complete.

In January, a year after the law was approved, state police Superintendent Joe D’Amico said in an open letter to the public that the database is still a work in progress.

“The state database is currently under construction and not operational, and prior notice will be given to all sellers on a timely basis before the database is complete,” D’Amico wrote in a press release.

Background checks for ammunition purchases were delayed because the state database wasn’t finished. Assualt-style weapons are being registered by state police. Pistol permits are collected and recorded by counties.

The deadline for registering assault-style weapons is set to end on April 15. After the deadline, a class-A misdemeanor charge and forfeiture of the weapon will take effect.

This week, the Assembly Codes Committee voted against several different bills which aimed to repeal or limit the SAFE Act.

“I voted against this bill 14 months ago,” Stec said. “I don’t want my government passing laws like that in the middle of the night.”

The Republican stands in stark contrast to the majority of the Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who believe stricter gun laws will help prevent gun violence.

Stec said there are two main arguments against the bill, one constitutional and the other pragmatic.

First, he believes the Safe Act is “absolutely an infringement” on the Second Amendment.

“If you’re giving up freedom for security, you’re going to have neither,” Stec said.

Last year, a federal judge upheld a majority of the SAFE Act as being constitutional because the law did not totally disarm New York citizens, the Associated Press reported. There are several lawsuits contesting it.

Stec also does not believe the SAFE Act will make New Yorkers safer, as its title claims. The law was approved less than a month after the mass murder in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Adam Lanza used a .223-caliber Bushmaster rifle and other guns to kill 26 people, both students and faculty.

“If this bill was law in Newtown, Connecticut, it would not have prevented the shooting there,” Stec said. “More gun laws are not going to stop criminals.”

Connecticut passed a new gun-control law this year requiring owners to register firearms defined as assault-style weapons.

Stec said he is “not a gun expert” but knows more about guns than the average Assembly member.

“I suspect most legislators don’t know a lot about guns,” he said.