Republican lawmakers in the New York State Assembly created quite a stir earlier this week, when they complained to the New York Post that the recently passed budget contained secret funding for the SAFE Act. Short for Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013, this is the controversial piece of legislationwritten hastily in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings and calls for strict regulations on the sale and use of guns and ammunition, including — as was argued in a previous column — the warrantless seizure of guns.
Two senators who wished to remain anonymous told the Post that funds tagged for certain aspects of the SAFE Act were “hidden” in the budget, and that they never would have voted in favor had they known. Meanwhile, several unnamed Assembly GOP lawmakers claimed that they had only found out about the funding at a state budget briefing.
There’s only three options here – they’re either lying, flat-out admitting that they didn’t review the budget prior to voting, or are trying to cover their “yes” vote by alleging they didn’t know what was in the budget.
Numerous Republicans who had actually put their name on it were openly debating SAFE Act funding in this year’s budget. Even the normally obedient media were pointing it out well in advance of budget debates.
Via LoHud on February 7th, nearly two months before the budget passed:
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $137.2 billion budget proposal includes an additional $3.2 million for personnel costs related to the SAFE Act, according to the head of the state police.
Superintendent Joseph D’Amico told lawmakers at a budget hearing this week that the money will go toward hiring civilian employees to help with administrative duties related to the gun laws, including the processing of assault-weapon registrations and maintaining records.
On March 14th, Republican Assemblyman Steve Hawley issued a statement that read in part:
This is also a bad budget proposal for those who support the Second Amendment of our Constitution, as $3.2 million is devoted to implementing the SAFE Act, and a proposal to legalize crossbows for hunting purposes that the governor included in his budget was omitted here.
Early on March 31st, Politics on the Hudson reiterated D’Amico’s statements that this year’s budget contained a provision to allocate $3.2 million to the SAFE Act, but also reminded lawmakers that nearly $28 million had been allocated for the implementation of a database and technology to support the state’s gun-control law last year, with $7 million having already been spent. The budget would eventually be voted on at least 10 hours after this portion of the debate.
Republican Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin took to his Facebook page that same day to explain to his constituents that he would be voting ‘no’ on the budget, in part specifically because it contained funding for the SAFE Act.
I just voted no on 8550-E which was the state operations bill. There was funding for the SAFE Act in the bill and I will not support that and debated the bill. There is also SAFE Act funding in 8554-E for the SAFE Act database and I will vote no on that bill as well.
In speaking with McLaughlin about the latest GOP claims that the funding was hidden he said, “I certainly knew it was in there and debated it.”
Here is video of the Assemblyman debating the budget and saying ‘no’ to all SAFE Act funding:
McLaughlin added, “They’re trying to say that they didn’t see it but after last year and how it was hidden how could anyone not ask the question?”
Even after the budget had passed, but still well before these new claims of ‘hidden’ funding, others were still sounding the alarm about money being allocated for a state gun database.
Via the Adirondack Daily Enterprise on April 11th:
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.
Yet somehow, it took until early May before certain anonymous GOP lawmakers realized they had been duped to vote for SAFE Act funding?
The New York State Rifle & Pistol Association (NYSRPA) fired back against these Republicans, particularly NYSRPA President Tom King:
“There is a reason the Senator quoted by the Post wants to remain anonymous,” King said. “Their statement is an easily provable falsehood. This is classic Albany politics: Tell their constituents one thing and do the exact opposite in the legislature and hope nobody notices the difference.”
It’s time for these lawmakers to come clean. You were duped into using a tragedy and a “message of necessity” to help pass the SAFE Act in the first place. You were duped into providing nearly $28 million in funding toward its implementation last year. And this year you want us to believe you were completely blindsided again?
You’re either lying, didn’t read the bill, or are covering your backside with double talk.