Mail this story to a friend.          
NYSNYS NEWS: SCOPE gun rights lawyer Capanna says State Police stepping up SAFE Act arrests. She calls Cuomo an 'opportunist' and predicts civil rights lawsuit against troopers.
GUN RIGHTS: Lawyer Paloma Capanna set out some of her SAFE Act literature before speaking to a group in Saratoga County on October 6 -- NYSNYS New photo.

NYSNYS NEWS: SCOPE gun rights lawyer Capanna says State Police stepping up SAFE Act arrests. She calls Cuomo an 'opportunist' and predicts civil rights lawsuit against troopers.

By Kyle Hughes

MILTON, N.Y. (October 7) One of the lead lawyers working to overturn the SAFE Act said this week that State Police are stepping up their enforcement of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's signature gun control law.

"It is being enforced and I would actually say, within the last two or three weeks, at a significant up-tick," Paloma Capanna, a Rochester-area lawyer, said during a stop here Tuesday to speak to a meeting of the Upstate Conservative Coalition, a grassroots group in Saratoga County.

"There's no question that the number of phone calls that have come in both to SCOPE and also to my law office have gone up four-fold, so it is a marked noticeable increase of people getting charged under the SAFE Act," Capanna said, referring to the Shooters Committee on Political Education, a Second Amendment advocacy group.

She said they are being charged with "anything from possession of an unregistered assault weapon, which in several of the cases is actually a question mark that it isn't an assault weapon under the governor's statute," to an investigation of a former federal firearms dealer over alleged sales of rifles.

Gun owners are also being challenged by one of the most controversial parts of the law, mandatory confidential reporting by doctors and healthcare providers of patients to a State Police database maintained for the purpose of seizing guns.

"There has been an awful lot of activity all of the sudden," she said, predicting that civil lawsuits will be filed against troopers for violating constitutional rights of gun owners. Capanna said she is involved with a half-dozen current cases," including the bid to overturn the patient reporting mandate.

Capanna said the stepped up enforcement is part of a pattern of civil rights violations committed by state officials against law abiding gun owners. She said New York has become "Ground Zero" for the fight to protect gun rights.

She called Cuomo "an opportunist. There's violence throughout New York every day in one format or another and he has zeroed his sights in on gun control and that's it. His policies do not bear any relationship to public safety issues. He's simply looking for cameras."

She said Cuomo's comments expressing support for a federal government shutdown to bring attention to gun control "is a bit odd coming from a governor." Calling into NY1 Friday, Cuomo said "Id love to see the Democrats stand up and say were going to shut down the government or threaten to shut down the government if we dont get real gun control legislation."

He later said his remark was misconstrued. Cuomo spoke after the latest gun shooting spree on an Oregon college campus.

Capanna says her group is seeking through FOIL requests records before and after Cuomo pushed the SAFE Act through the Legislature in January 2013, following the Newtown, CT school massacre. They are also seeking State Police records on how the law is being implemented.

"At every turn the governor does not want anything coming out about how he did that," she said. State Police are "also blocking any request."

She said Senate Republicans who helped pass the law are also facing primaries in safely GOP districts. "I think it's going to take two or three of them losing their seat to take us seriously," she said. "We are only growing stronger and getting more politically sophisticated and they know that."

In the meantime, SCOPE has another project going, a letter writing campaign to get Cuomo to donate his Remington shotgun for the group's upcoming dinner. In arguing for more gun control, Cuomo frequently notes that he is a gun owner.

"This is a little campaign to disarm Cuomo," she said. "We'd like him to donate his Remington two-scope for the 50th anniversary dinner. If he's not going to stand with us on Second Amendment issues then his Remington deserves a better future than being in his hands."

The annual awards banquet is scheduled for October 17 in Lackawanna and features Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino said the guest speaker. Astorino ran against Cuomo in 2014 and is gearing up to run again in 2018.