Once a gun-bill supporter, Boyle now calls for repeal

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Gun rights advocates demonstrate Thursday outside the Capitol

Gun rights advocates demonstrate Thursday outside the Capitol in Albany. (Feb. 28, 2013) Photo Credit: AP

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Spin Cycle

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  A Long Island senator who voted for the state’s comprehensive gun-control law now wants to repeal it.

  Sen. Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore) said the law, championed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo as the nation’s toughest, “was a mistake.” The freshman senator said the bill was rushed – the Senate acted on it just hours after it was printed – and that it went too far in limiting assault weapons and ammunition magazines.

 “Its passage lacked transparency and public input and its wording was ill-conceived and of questionable legality,” Boyle said in a statement. “Lawmakers like myself might have caught these mistakes if we were given more than two hours to read the bill. A good leader admits a mistake and works to rectify it. That is what I am doing.”

 Eight of Long Island’s nine Republican senators voted for the law; Sen. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) was absent but said he would have voted no.

  Though opponents have called for repealing the law, Boyle is the first senator who voted for the measure in January to do so. His change of hear came a day after about 5,000 anti-gun-control protestors rallied at the State Capitol. 

  In interview Friday, Boyle said he “begrudgingly” voted for the gun bill on Jan. 14 because he considered provisions to crack down on illegal guns worthwhile. But upon further review, he found what he considered numerous problems with the legislation.

 “To be honest, I didn’t realize how many bad provisions there were,” Boyle said.

  For example, he noted the law grandfathers-in assault weapons purchased earlier, but mandates that owners register the weapons. Failure to do so could result in fines or confiscation – a potentially dangerous situation, the Republican said.

  “I’m afraid the next Ruby Ridge or Waco might occur in New York,” Boyle said.

 The Cuomo administration declined comment on Boyle’s change of heart. But spokesman Rich Azzopardi said the administration’s goal was to register, not confiscate, assault weapons.

 Senate co-leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) declined comment. Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long’s said Boyle “showed some real courage.”

 “I would hope his announcement, being made publicly, would give courage to other legislators who made the same mistake,” Long said.

 Repeal of the law is unlikely, given that the Senate (43-18) and the Assembly (104-43) voted overwhelmingly for it. But pro-gun groups have filed notices of challenging the law in court.


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