The Safe Act lives, whether you like it or not.
Last week, Republican state Sen. James Seward was the latest to propose a bill to amend the Safe Act. It goes along with the bills Sen. Kathy Marchione and Assemblyman Dan Stec offered up earlier this year.
The bills are more symbolic protest than serious legislation, but if you are an upstate Republican, it is what is expected of you, even if it is a waste of time.
The proposed bills were referred to committee in January, where they will remain gasping for relevance before dying a slow death. That’s the way the Democratic-controlled Assembly and Gov. Andrew Cuomo want it. They are holding all the cards.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said last month it was unlikely the Assembly would take up the Safe Act this year and that any amendments to it would be “challenging.”
He was being kind.
When the Senate chose to select John Flanagan as majority leader last month, it further sealed the Safe Act’s fate. Flanagan voted for the Safe Act two years ago and, as a Long Island Republican, his constituents are likely to support the law.
This continues to be part of the upstate vs. downstate divide, although it might not be as great as you think.
The latest poll numbers from Siena College show two out of every three New Yorkers are in favor of the Safe Act.
That is significant.
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Upstate, the Siena poll showed 51 percent of upstate residents narrowly oppose the law, but those that do are enthusiastic about it. It’s too bad upstate residents don’t bring the same fervor to ethics reform as they do to gun rights.
What puzzles me is that the safest place in the state — upstate — seems to have so many residents who feel the need to protect themselves, while it is the downstate residents from communities that have far more crime who support more gun control.
That seems upside down.
The most recent crime statistics show that violent crime continues to drop and is about half the level it was in 1993.
I had a front row seat to our local law enforcement professionals last week. They were in pursuit of a driver who had fled the scene of an accident at high speed.
I counted no fewer than 11 police cars roaring up my country lane, only to return and set up a perimeter around a wooded area across the street from my home.
What followed was a State Police helicopter that circled our home for the next three hours, while the police on the ground waited for the suspect to emerge from the woods.
It was a reminder of the mass mobilization of law enforcement for a Queensbury purse snatching several years ago. He was caught, too.
I’m glad the police are there to do their job.
And frankly, I’ve never felt safer.