New York State Exposed: Safe Act Pushback

Created: 01/30/2014 6:25 AM
By: Amanda Ciavarri

News10NBC has an eye opening viewpoint about the SAFE Act. It comes from local firefighters. They want to set the record straight.

The law was signed shortly after two West Webster firefighters were murdered in 2012. For the first time, a group of local firefighters “opens up” about the controversial gun law and whether it has made their jobs any safer.

Every day, firefighters are out in the community, taking calls and helping people. They’re like a brotherhood. There is one thing that many are standing against. It is the New York SAFE Act.

Steve Sessler, volunteer firefighter, said, “To try and capitalize to push an agenda, especially for a politically ambitious governor, who is looking at the presidency. That doesn’t sit well with me.”

Craig Akins, former Webster Fire Chief, said, “The governor took it upon himself to use us as a pawn and I think most of us are not very happy about that.”

They’re from West Webster, Webster, Irondequoit, Rochester and other departments in Monroe and Wayne counties. They want you to know how they feel so they came to News10NBC. Former Webster Fire Chief Craig Akins gave us a unique perspective.

Akins said, “A lot of people thought that a lot of the firefighters were 100% behind the SAFE Act.”

In fact, these firefighters and many other oppose parts of the SAFE Act, especially when it comes to make certain guns illegal and the requirements for background checks for buying ammunition.

Akins said, “We are for stiffer penalties for illegal guns, anyone who wants to kill a first responder, by far those are great.”

Without a doubt, the events on Christmas Eve 2012 changed the mentality of a first responder.

Akins said, “We have several firefighters, right now, who feel very unsafe going into a call.”

News10NBC’s Amanda Ciavarri asked, “Do you feel the SAFE Act makes you feel safer going into a call?

Sessler said, “Not at all, not at all, not at all. No, in fact, the SAFE Act ironically named doesn’t make anybody any safer. In my opinion, the events of Christmas even last year, definitely changes your mind as a first responder. In fact, in Honeoye Falls, about three weeks after that incident last year, we had a call for a shooting and that was the first thing to go through my mind.”

For this brotherhood, the SAFE Act to them is not a step in the right direction.

Akins said, “The state used us, the quote, fire department’s name, to sign the enacted SAFE Act and to sign the SAFE Act in Rochester.”

Some of these men knew and worked with the victims of the West Webster shootings.

Akins said, “It is hurtful to use because one of the victims was a huge advocate, a big gun advocate, and I know he wouldn’t be happy right now knowing that these laws were enacted because of anything he had involvement with.”