Erie County to drop 23 SAFE Act charges

Posted at 6:22 PM, Nov 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-20 10:13:04-05

Erie County District Attorney John Flynn will no longer prosecute a specific portion of New York's SAFE Act. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the gun control law in 2012, part of which makes it illegal to have more than seven rounds of ammunition in a 10-round magazine.

Under the SAFE Act, violating this specific provision is a Class B Misdemeanor. Exceptions are written into the law for recognized ranges and shooting competitions.

There are currently 23 open cases in Erie County involving this particular charge and Flynn plans to drop this charge for all of those individuals.

"Those 23 open cases, they're not going to have their entire cases dismissed because in the overwhelming majority of those 23 cases, they have other gun charges with them," Flynn said.

Flynn points to two Federal court rulings that consider this portion of the SAFE Act unconstitutional. The original ruling in U.S. District Court in the Western District of New York was upheld on appeal to the 2nd Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals.

"I'm going to follow their ruling and view this matter as unconstitutional and not charge that specific SAFE Act offense," Flynn said. "Which again, it's only a [Class] B Misdemeanor. There are very few of them."

Those rulings came down in 2013 and 2015, respectively. Flynn said he only recently became aware of the decisions and plans to no longer prosecute these cases in Erie County.

Buffalo Police, based on the District Attorney's decision, will no longer charge individuals for that specific crime. New York State Police were instructed in 2014 to stop enforcing this portion of the law.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorreclty stated New York State Police were still enforcing this portion of the SAFE Act.