Tonawanda News — Since the NY SAFE Act went into effect earlier this year, local police departments in the Tonawandas are reporting relatively low numbers of arrests for violations of the controversial law.
The NY SAFE Act was passed by the New York State Legislature on Jan. 15 and was signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on the same day.
The legislation was written in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., where 20 first-graders and six teachers were shot and killed on Dec. 14 by 20-year-old Adam Lanza. Cuomo described the law at the time as the “toughest” gun control law in the United States.
Several other states have now followed suit and enacted tougher gun control legislation of their own.
City of Tonawanda Police Lt. Fredric Foels said that the city has arrested three people for violations under the SAFE Act since the law was enacted.
“We’ve had three instances, two of which were recent and were also domestic violence calls,” Foels said.
Foels said neither incident involved the use or threat of use of a gun but that guns were owned by the individuals living in the home.
“Whenever we go on a domestic, we always ask if there are weapons in the home,” Foels said. “We’ve been doing that for 30 years. It’s standard procedure.”
Foels explained that if guns are found in the home, police inspect the weapon and if any SAFE Act violations are found, then the suspect is charged for that. The weapons are seized during a domestic call in all cases and it is up to the courts to return the weapons, whether there was a SAFE Act violation or not.
“In one case, a man had an MP 15-22 assault rifle,” Foels said. “That is a prohibited weapon under the SAFE Act and was seized. In another recent case, the suspect had more rounds in the magazine than allowed by the law.”