ALBANY, N.Y. -- If New York City can have different regulations when it comes to issues like ride-hailing or minimum wage, then why not gun control?
"I think the argument would be that it's certainly much more popular or much better received in the city," state Sen. Rob Ortt, R-North Tonawanda, said.
That's the crux of Ortt's bill to repeal the SAFE Act exclusively in upstate New York.
"Initially we had upstate, downstate, basically everything north of Westchester County," he said.
At the request of gun rights advocates, including the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, Ortt is amending his bill to call for repeal everywhere but the five boroughs. He said it's getting more attention than it did when he initially proposed it at the end of last session.
"This is the first time since I've been there - and I'm on eight other ones (repeal bills) - that I've really started to hear some real conversation from rank and file members about a certain repeal bill," he said.
Ortt is relatively confident he can garner enough support in the state Senate. The bigger hurdle will be in getting it through the Democratic-controlled Assembly. Herkimer County Republican Marc Butler is co-sponsoring the legislation.
"I know he's going to put his shoulder behind it in the assembly which is always an uphill battle but I think the way we have it carved out, that gives us some traction there," Ortt said.
Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, D-Manhattan, believes the bill is a non-starter though.
"New York City residents would not be safer by allowing gun sales with no background checks in Westchester County, just across the border from the Bronx," he said.
Kavanagh said all New Yorkers are entitled to the same protections.
"Background checks do not work more effectively in New York City than they do Upstate," he said. "Background checks on sales of guns and other provisions of the SAFE Act work everywhere."
Kavanagh also believes the provisions in the SAFE Act are supported by the majority of people in the state.
"The SAFE Act was passed with a vote of more than 70 percent in the Senate and more than 70 percent in the Assembly," he said. "It was not a close vote and it was not driven just by folks in New York City."
Even if both houses pass the upstate repeal the governor would still need to sign it, something Ortt admits isn't a sure thing. He hopes at a minimum the legislation reignites conversation about parts of the bill he believes aren't working.