St. Lawrence County’s newest Assemblyman introducing bill to make changes to new state gun law
Sunday, February 17, 2013 - 4:22 pm

Assemblyman Marc Butler (R, C, I-Newport) wants to repeal or at least amend the NYSafe Act gun control measure that outlaws the sale in New York State of what are called “assault weapons.”

That could make things tough for the Remington Arms Co. factory in his district.

St. Lawrence County’s newest assemblyman, who represents nine central and southern St. Lawrence County townships in the 118th Assembly District, is holding meetings in other parts of the district to discuss the law and elicit support for changes.

Butler said the term “assault weapon” is arbitrary, and that firearms in the law that fall in this category are misunderstood and inappropriately made a target of the legislation.

The NYSafe Act bans for sale in New York State a variety of firearms that are classified as assault weapons, including several firearms manufactured by the Remington Arms Co., in Ilion, Herkimer County, in the heart of Butler’s district.

“While I would prefer to see a total repeal of the law, and will work toward that end, I feel this amendment would be an immediate and important step toward making this law fairer and more sensible. Any law of this magnitude should have been the result of careful and thoughtful discussion and deliberation, rather than the hastily passed bill that New Yorkers now must live under,” Butler said.

“In terms of the overall bill, I anticipate there will be a number of changes and amendments to the law, as well as litigation to overturn the law,” Butler said.

Butler’s bill would modify language in the law which identifies various characteristics which the law states now qualify the firearm as an “assault weapon.”

Butler argues that the sporting firearms referred to resemble military assault weapons, but differ in a number of ways. Foremost among them, he said, is the fact that a true military style assault weapon has the capacity to be used in a fully automatic mode. Automatic weapons have been banned for civilian use for years.

“In other words, these guns are being banned for sale in New York because of the way they look, not because of their capabilities,” the assemblyman said. “The term ‘assault weapon’ conjures up all kinds of negative images for people, but these firearms are, in fact, semi-automatic weapons that have numerous legitimate civilian applications including hunting, target shooting and self protection,” he said.

Butler said his bill would make legal features such as a pistol grip and a muzzle brake compensator (on semi-automatic rifles), a thumbhole stock (on semi-automatic shotguns) and a shroud attached to the barrel of a pistol. Those features are among those that qualify certain firearms to be considered assault weapons under the law.

While there are other elements of the measure that are in error or are confusing, Butler said, he is convinced there will be a number of amendments and changes to the bill in the coming months, and wants to have his changes included as part of the discussion.

“The problems with the bill are the unfortunate result of the haste with which this legislation was drafted and passed. The thirty-nine page bill is filled with technical details, numerous amendments to existing law, and the creation of several new sections and was bound to be filled with mistakes,” Butler said.