Congressman Chris Collins says federal law can preempt state law. It is with that in mind that the Western New York Republican is introducing a bill that aims to take down Governor Andrew Cuomo's gun control legislation known as the SAFE Act.
Appearing Monday afternoon at the Hamburg Rod & Gun Club, where the congressman said he learned to shoot, Collins detailed his proposed Second Amendment Guarantee Act, or SAGA. It would roll back the restrictions put forth in New York State's SAFE Act for rifles and shotguns. It would also eliminate the seven-round limit for magazines.
"The governor didn't see it coming," said Collins. "Let's face it. Whatever we would do in the Legislature, here in the Assembly or Senate, he'd never sign into law. But guess what? Federal law can preempt state law."
Collins was joined by representatives of Shooters Committee On Political Education, or SCOPE, as well as Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard, Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw, Erie County Legislator Ted Morton and State Assemblyman David DiPietro. The latter spoke of his non-stop commitment to overturning the SAFE Act.
"This act was written in the dead of night," DiPietro said. "It has set up an entire system to strip away our constitutional right to bear arms as law-abiding citizens."
SAGA would not apply to handguns. Collins said that is "too emotional" of an issue but he feels he can gain enough support to overturn restrictions on rifles and shotguns. He acted quickly to address a reporter's question about the future of assault rifles.
"There is no such things as an assault rifle. If you can define that to me, thank you, because it does not exist," Collins said, drawing loud applause from supporters on the scene. "Which is how Governor Cuomo has misled America, because it just sounds awful when you use the term 'assault weapon.'"
He also took some jabs at Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, questioning how they might stand on his proposal.
When asked if he'd be willing to work with them, he replied, "I don't have to. They're in the minority. They don't count. They don't matter."
Governor Cuomo, in a three-part message on Twitter, said the SAFE Act was passed by lawmakers from both parties in response to the Sandy Hook massacre and that Collins' proposed legislation would put millions of people at risk.