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Ortt seeking repeal of SAFE Act upstate

Mike Groll / AP

New York State Senator Robert Ortt says the New York SAFE Act has not been living up to its name. That is why the North Tonawanda Republican is proposing a bill to repeal the SAFE Act exclusively in upstate New York.

In addition, at the request of gun rights advocates, including the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, Ortt said he is going to amend the bill to call for a repeal everywhere in the state except New York City. If New York City can have different regulations for minimum wage, and ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft, then the same principle could work for gun control, he said.

“If we can do that for those, certainly something as important as our second amendment rights, we can come up with a different legislation for that,” Ortt said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo put the SAFE Act in effect in 2013 to stop criminals and the mentally ill from buying a gun without a background check, on the heels of a school mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

According to critics, making a distinction between upstate and downstate New York does not make any sense when it comes to the topic of gun control. Democratic Assemblymember Harry Bronson called Ortt’s proposed bill “problematic” and “over reaching.”

“If there is a desire to make some changes, like maybe some of the fees regarding background checks for dealers or other changes regarding the process to renew a pistol permit, those are things that I think we could look at,” Bronson said.

Ortt said his bill has been gaining “positive traction” despite the naysayers and is moving forward with the process.

“I still have an uphill battle to climb with the governor and the assembly, but it’s a marker down and it continues the conversation,” Ortt said.

Sasha-Ann Simons joined the team at WXXI News as a Multimedia Reporter/Producer in March 2015. The right mix of determination and opportunity catapulted Sasha-Ann into her dream career as a journalist nearly a decade ago. A native of Kingston, Jamaica, Sasha-Ann comes to Rochester after spending her formative years growing up in Toronto, Canada. She studied broadcasting at Ryerson University, where she received a Bachelor of Journalism. Sasha-Ann earned her first news gig as a chase producer at CityTV, while still a college freshman. She subsequently took on various roles in other Toronto newsrooms as a videographer, host, and producer, and was part of the award-winning Global TV news team. Sasha-Ann has covered and produced stories in the Canadian national spotlight, including Occupy Toronto, the Eaton Centre mall shooting, the Toronto Argos CFL championship win, and the Mayor Rob Ford crack scandal. Sasha-Ann is fun-loving and sassy. She is also passionate about education issues. When she's not on the air, Sasha-Ann spends her time with family and exploring new recipes in the kitchen.