March 1, 2013
Legislature opposes gun law
By a unanimous vote Thursday, Cortland County legislators opposed the New York SAFE Act, calling for the state gun control law to be repealed and rewritten.
Legislator Richard Bushnell (D-5th Ward) was absent.
Cortland joins 33 counties statewide calling for repeal of the state law which strengthens gun controls and calls for tighter restrictions on things like gun magazine capacities and sales of guns and ammunition, among other provisions.
Legislators cited the highly emotional nature of the issue, saying that any legislation should be drafted in a well thought-out way. They faulted the state’s legislation for failing to keep guns out of the hands of criminals but rather burdening law-abiding gun owners. Legislators also fault the law for unfairly burdening communities with the expense of enforcing the law and burdening mental health professionals with the responsibility of identifying and reporting potentially violent individuals.
Legislator Tony Pace (D-7th Ward) said the law unfairly stigmatizes the mentally ill and that money should instead be spent on expanding community mental health resources.
Other legislators, like Dave Fuller (R-Cincinnatus, Taylor, Freetown and Willet), supported calling for a repeal of the law but for different reasons.
Fuller said he only approved of two provisions in the law, that which allows pistol permit records to be kept confidential and that which gives a life imprisonment term for anyone who murders a first responder.
“The law is wrong. We already have laws in place that would take care of everything they need to put in this law if they would just enforce them,” Fuller said.
Legislator Ray Parker (D-2nd Ward) agrees. He said the state should just enforce the tough gun laws already on the books and that means not pleading down gun offenses.
“Instead of penalizing legal and law-abiding gun owners, produce a law that can capitalize on present statistics,” Parker said, referring to state Division of Criminal Justice Services statistics that show declining violent crime rates over the past 10 years in New York.
Legislator John Troy (D-1st Ward) said he supports stricter gun laws but thinks the state law was too hastily put together.
“It puts an undue burden on county agencies and ... mandates will be unfunded that will cost counties,” Troy said.
Legislator Kathie Arnold (D-Cuyler, Solon and Truxton) agrees.
“There are too many provisions that are not going to have any real effect on reducing gun violence, yet will have a dramatic effect on law-abiding gun owners,” Arnold said.
Legislators want the law to be rewritten. They urge the state to hold public hearings on the issue and get feedback before drafting another law.
Legislator Susan Briggs (R-Cortlandville) said state legislators should go back to the drawing board.
“And think fully before tampering with people’s constitutional rights,” Briggs said.
The resolution will be sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state senators and assemblymen.
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