By Tom Precious
ALBANY -- The Legislature’s top Republican said he is opposed to giving movie and film companies a special carve out from the gun control law so that action scenes shot in New York could include actors armed with assault weapons.
Senate co-leader Dean Skelos, a Long Island Republican, told The Buffalo News this afternoon that he is concerned about the mixed message such a special provision for Hollywood would send.
Critics have said the idea of letting film companies used now-banned assault weapons – even with blanks – in movies shot in New York sends a confusing signal, especially to children, at a time when new gun restrictions are being put into law.
“I indicated my opposition,’’ Skelos said of talks he is having with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other legislative leaders on possible changes to the gun law.
“My concern is why are you doing for Hollywood and others cannot do the same thing?’’ Skelos said in an interview today. “I don’t believe they should be treated any differently.’’
Skelos noted the interest the state has in the movie and film industry – it spends hundreds of millions of dollars on tax breaks to lure studios here. “We have a tremendous amount of film tax credits which are going to be helpful to that industry,’’ he said.
Asked about the status of the talks over the Hollywood exemption to the gun law, Skelos said, “As we speak right now, that’s one of the issues that’s outstanding.’’
Skelos confirmed the new budget deal will include a provision relaxing the ban on sales of ammunition clips with more than seven bullets. Gun makers have said they would not make New York-specific gun clips to comply with the April 15 deadline to stop selling 10-round magazines.
Of the gun law, Skelos said "the biggest mistake (was that)...it was rushed. We should have slowed up the process a bit more.''
NOTE: See the full video interview with Skelos -- including his discussion of the state budget and 2014 gubernatorial politics -- later today on buffalonews.com