A new statewide tip line now offers a $500 reward for turning in neighbors who have illegal weapons.
Assemblyman Andy Goodell, R-Chautauqua County, recently expressed outrage over a memo sent by the Division of Criminal Justice Services offering a $500 reward for people who turn in their neighbors to the State Police for owning an illegal assault rifle. The taxpayer-funded program comes shortly after 51 upstate counties, including Chautauqua County, passed resolutions opposing the NY SAFE Act.
"Residents and county governments all across our state, including the Chautauqua County Legislature, have voiced their strong opposition to this new legislation," Goodell said. "In response, the governor's administration has proposed a program to turn neighbors against neighbors."
Assemblyman Andy Goodell, R-Chautauqua County, expressed outrage over a program that offers $500 for people who turn in their neighbors to State Police for owning an illegal assault rifle.
P-J illustration by C. Ralph Heeter
A toll-free tip line has been established by the state to encourage residents to report illegal firearm possession. Residents can call 1-855-GUNSNYS (1-855- 486-7697) or text GUNTIP and their message to CRIMES (274637). According to the Division of Criminal Justice Services memo, "While the state will provide the administrative support and fund the rewards, the investigation and validity of the tip will be up to each local department."
The tip line - which will be further explained in a comprehensive campaign - will be staffed by State Police 24 hours a day, and will remain anonymous and focus on individuals with illegal firearms. If information leads to an arrest for illegal possession of a firearm, the person providing the tip will be awarded $500.
"Chautauqua County is home to thousands of law-abiding outdoorsmen and firearms enthusiasts," Goodell said. "We need to focus our efforts on combating criminals, reducing gun violence and addressing mental health issues, not use tax dollars to go after those who have always acted in a lawful manner."
State Gun Database To Cost $28M
ALBANY (AP) - New York will spend $27.74 million to develop a statewide electronic handgun permit database as part of its new gun control law, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said Tuesday.
Silver said the measure in the tentative state budget will create a central database of handgun permit records now kept at the county level. The new database will allow faster statewide cross-checking with records of crimes and involuntary commitments to mental health facilities.
The law also exempts records of individual handgun owners from the state Freedom of Information Law. That would avoid the conflict that arose when a newspaper reported the names of handgun permit holders and their addresses.
"This database will be a powerful tool that will aid in the enforcement of New York's gun control measures and keep more of our citizens out of harm's way," Silver said.
The database is a key element of the state gun control law adopted in January, a month after the Newtown, Conn., shooting. Another element of New York's law is a broader ban on military-style rifles often called assault weapons.
The law has met with strong opposition by mostly upstate Republicans who see the law as an assault on Second Amendment rights. However, most New Yorkers support stronger gun control measures, particularly residents of New York City and its suburbs.
The funding is in the tentative state budget expected to gain final legislative approval in the Assembly later this week.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.
On Feb. 27, the Chautauqua County Legislature voted in favor of a motion to repeal the SAFE Act, which was signed into law in January by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The controversial law aims to keep guns out of the hands of convicted felons and potentially dangerous mental health patients. Additionally, it bans high-capacity magazines and assault weapons.
"I am thrilled to see that virtually every county outside New York City and throughout New York state is in direct opposition to Gov. Cuomo's attempt to violate our Second Amendment rights," said County Executive Greg Edwards. "That had happened before most people had realized he was also offering neighbors $500 bounty money to send in a tip about their neighbor who they believe has a gun that is beyond this limitation that has been placed by the governor. That's using our tax dollars to fund neighbors ratting out other neighbors for owning a .22 rifle that has a magazine with more than seven bullets in it."
Since the passage of the law, state lawmakers have proposed changes in a state budget bill related to education, labor and family assistance. The bill specifically targets the ban on purchasing eight, nine or 10-round ammunition magazines, and was scheduled to take effect April 15. Additional changes remain to be seen.
A Silver Creek man has already been charged earlier this month under the NY SAFE Act for the alleged sale of illegal guns. Benjamin M. Wassell, 32, allegedly sold the illegal firearms in January and February, following the implementation of the NY SAFE Act. He was the first person to be charged under the new law.
A phone call to Sheriff Joe Gerace was not immediately returned.