July 15, 2013


Retired Cops Given Exemption From Gun Magazine Reduction

By Mark Toor

Governor Cuomo signed into law July 8 a bill supported by police unions that would exempt retired officers from a rule that would have barred many of them from carrying the weapons they used while on active duty.

“It was a struggle, but thanks to the hard work of Sen. Martin Golden, the bill was passed,” said Michael J. Palladino, president of both the Detectives Endowment Association and the New York State Association of PBAs. “I think the Legislature saw that there’s a distinction between civilian license-holders and retired cops.”

Limits Magazine Size

The right to carry was threatened by the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, championed by Mr. Cuomo, which among other things forbids the possession of magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. The maximum number of rounds it says can be loaded into a magazine is seven. Standard weapons used by law-enforcement officers use magazines holding up to 15 rounds.

The law was drafted in a back room by Mr. Cuomo and a handful of aides and lawmakers. The Legislature passed it in two days. In the Governor’s haste to have New York become the first state to pass more-restrictive gun laws after the massacre of 20 first-graders and six adults at a Connecticut elementary school last December, no one noticed that the usual clause in firearms bills exempting active and retired police officers had been left out.

The bill Mr. Cuomo signed last week would allow a retired New York or Federal law-enforcement officer to possess “large-capacity ammunition-feeding devices issued to or purchased by such officer in the course of his or her official duties.” Possession of assault weapons is permissible under the same conditions.

‘Can Keep NYPD Weapon’

In a letter to his members, Captains Endowment Association President Roy Richter said the law signed by Mr. Cuomo “provides a limited exemption for retired police officers to provisions of the SAFE Act that ban assault weapons and handgun magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds of ammunition. What this law does is allow you to continue to possess the service weapon, or equivalent, that you retired from the New York City Police Department with—regardless of the capacity of the magazine.”

In order to be eligible, officers must report all guns on their pistol license within 60 days of retirement, he wrote.

PBA: Grateful for Change

“We have been lobbying for this change since the new gun-control laws were first enacted,” Patrick J. Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, said in a statement. “We’ve worked very hard with the Governor and the Legislature to correct the legislation in this regard and we’re grateful that we’ve been successful.”

Mr. Golden, a retired NYPD officer, sponsored the bill and also worked hard to push it through the Senate, where it initially got held up by members who wanted to see the SAFE Act repealed. It passed just before the session ended in June. The Assembly passed the bill in May.

Mr. Cuomo said on a radio program just after the bill was passed that he would enact it into law. “I’d be prepared to sign it because I supported it earlier,” he said, adding that he was in favor of it when the issue first came up during budget negotiations, but the Senate declined to make it part of the budget.