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Cuomo's update of domestic violence gun law draws mixed reviews

National Public Radio

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation that expands the confiscation of guns from individuals convicted of domestic violence cases. While some, including the Erie County District Attorney, welcome the updated legislation, others are raising questions about the governor's history with gun rights issues.

Under previous legislation, domestic abusers were forced to give up handguns if convicted of felony and certain misdemeanor cases. Governor Cuomo's signature expands state law to cover all convicted domestic abusers, and other firearms beside handguns.

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn welcomes the legislation as a means to further protect victims of domestic violence, whether it be physical assault or mental abuse.

"If there's an indication that this individual has a propensity for violent conduct, then he or she should not have a weapon," Flynn said. "It's as simple as that, quite frankly. I applaud the governor for his action and applaud the governor for his leadership in this particular endeavor. Anything that makes the victim safer, I am always going to be on board."

Gun rights advocates, though, say police already have the power to remove weapons from those accused in domestic violence incidents. What concerns them is what they consider an overreach by the governor. 

Harold "Budd" Schroeder, Chairman Emeritus of the Shooters Committee on Political Education (SCOPE), considers the governor's latest action as another effort to chip away at New Yorkers' gun rights.

"Under the SAFE Act, there are people that are being denied the right to keep and bear arms on mere accusation," Schroeder said. "That is a problem that I think needs to be discussed. In any case where any constitutional or civil rights are being violated, there has to be due process before the act."

The governor this week also introduced a proposal that, if passed, would extend the background check waiting period from three days to ten.

Schroeder recognized this is a re-election year for Cuomo and told WBFO gun rights advocacy groups like SCOPE are already mobilizing with voter registration campaigns and, later this fall, will work phone banks to spread their message an encourage more favorable voter turnout.

"It looks like he's in a lot of trouble as far as re-election is concerned, more so than he's ever had before," Schroeder said. "I think this is going to be a driving factor in getting them (advocates) out."

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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