Court orders New York congressman to surrender guns amid criminal charges

Rep. Chris Collins speaks with reporters on July 8, 2017 after sponsoring a gun safety and training course for 40 citizens. (Photo: John Hickey/The Buffalo News)

A New York congressman and staunch defender of the Second Amendment will surrender his guns after pleading not guilty to insider trading charges last week.

U.S. Rep. Chris Collins, a Republican from New York’s 27th district, must turn over his firearms to the Erie County Sheriff’s Office within 14 days of his Aug. 8 arraignment in federal court, according to a report from The Buffalo News.

“Congressman Collins has been cooperative and compliant with the federal court order,” Scott Zylka, a spokesman for Sheriff Timothy Howard, told the newspaper Thursday.

Collins, his son Cameron Collins, and his son’s future father-in-law, Stephen Zarsky, face conspiracy charges after prosecutors allege the latter two men sold off stock in Innate Immunotherapeutics Limited — an Australian biotechnology company developing a new drug to treat secondary multiple sclerosis — after the congressman got word of its failed drug trial before the news became public.

Collins sat on Innate’s board of directors and identified as one of its largest shareholders in June 2017 when the company first disclosed the disappointing trial results via email, according to court documents. Unable to sell his stocks for fear of rousing the suspicion of federal ethics investigators, Collins shared the privileged information with his son, who then advised Zarsky and other family members of the impending news.

Four days later, Innate’s stock tanked 92 percent, according to court documents. Collins’s tip-off, however, saved his son $768,000 in losses. Both Collins and his son remain out of custody on $500,000 bonds, according to court records.

Collins made headlines last year after publicly declaring his intention to carry a concealed firearm 24/7 after a gunman attacked Congressional Republicans practicing for a charity baseball game on June 14, 2017.

“On a rare occasion I’d have my gun in the glove box or something, but it’s going to be in my pocket from this day forward,” he said.

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