Gun Used In Florida Shooting Would Differ Under SAFE Act

Alessandra Mondolfi holds a sign against AR-15 weapons as she yells, "No More" during a protest against guns on the steps of the Broward County Federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018. Nikolas Cruz, a former student, is charged with killing 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

The AR-15, also called “America’s Rifle” by the National Rifle Association, was the gun used in the mass shooting on Valentine’s Day that left 17 dead and many others wounded at a high school in Florida.

That style of rifle has been used in other mass shootings, such as the one in Las Vegas last year.

However, Bruce Piatz, owner of M&M Sports Den in Jamestown, said the type of AR-15 available in New York state differs from ones sold in Florida. He said the rifle — which is made by many manufacturers and is the civilian version of the military’s M-16 — cannot hold as many rounds here than in Florida or contain a removable magazine.

To fire a round, the trigger also must be pulled each time.

“In New York, we’re not allowed to have a detachable magazine,” Piatz said.

With a magazine that is unable to be detached, Piatz said the only way to load the gun is to pull a disassembly pin and place up to 10 rounds into the magazine.

Those wishing to purchase the AR-15 fill out Firearms Transaction Record — also known as a Form 4473 — by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The form requires personal information, criminal history and identification and is common when purchasing firearms from a gun dealer.

Piatz noted a sign that hangs in his North Main Street shop that says firearms will not be sold unless the buyer has a pistol permit, hunting license and enrollment in a gun safety class.

“Every gun is run through the FBI,” Piatz said. “Any shotgun, rifle, handgun — I don’t care what it is. They will tell me whether to complete the sale. People think you just walk into the store, pay your money and leave. You don’t do that.”

Piatz said he has sold close to 18,000 guns during his tenure at the shop, with only 121 applications for a firearm being denied.

When asked why he believes more mass shootings are taking place, Piatz said he thinks it is because people are not as deterred by police or the repercussions from committing crimes with firearms.

Piatz said mental health records are not available when it comes to the FBI check before a gun is sold. He said with the privacy act, those records cannot be included in the FBI website.

“I think they should. I have nothing against that,” he said.

The New York State Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) act was enacted in 2013 in an attempt to reduce gun violence. The law, pushed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo following the Sandy Hook school shooting, broadens the definition of an assault weapon to rifles, pistols and shotguns with one or more “military-style features.”

The act included a provision that magazines could only be sold to carry seven rounds of ammunition. Magazines with 10 rounds purchased before April 2013 could be used, but cannot carry more than seven rounds.

Locally, pistol permits go through the Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office; applications are kept with the County Clerk’s Office, and a copy sent to the state.

Those applying for a permit are required to take a pistol safe handling class in addition to state and federal background checks.

Local officials weighed in on the gun regulation conversation happening in the country in the wake of the shooting at Majory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

U.S. Rep. Tom Reed said the problems not about gun control.

“I will always be a strong supporter of our Second Amendment rights,” said Reed, R-Corning. “This tragedy is not an issue of gun control, it is an issue of ignoring the mental health crisis that is plaguing our country. The medical community can no longer brush this issue aside.”

Reed said the country must “come together” to best address the issue of mental health. He said it is important to make sure people get the treatment they need and ensure there are resources for early intervention.

Chautauqua County Sheriff Joe Gerace said the AR-15 rifle is an “extremely efficient weapon” in what it is designed to do. Gerace said he understands concerns currently being echoed across the country and noted that he fully stands by the phrase: “If you see something, say something.”

Furthermore, the sheriff said he supports the idea of having a School Resource Officer at every school and believes there should be federal funding to help pay for the officers.

“It becomes impossible for school districts (to afford on their own),” he said. “They shouldn’t be put in that position. The SRO isn’t a (complete solution) because they could be a first target, but that is a major proactive approach.”