March 15, 2013

Gun owners blast SAFE Act


---- — MALONE — Gun owners took aim at New York’s new gun law Thursday, suggesting they ignore the provisions, join the NRA and write to elected officials to get it amended. 

About 75 people turned out to the Malone Middle School to the first of two sessions about the Safe Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act (SAFE Act) law from Sheriff Kevin Mulverhill.

The next session will be from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at the Harrietstown Town Hall in Saranac Lake. 

In addition to Mulverhill, the first hour of Thursday’s forum included remarks from Acting County Clerk Kip Cassavaw, County Director of Community Services Suzanne Goolden, Legislature Chairman Billy Jones and gun-shop owner Mike McDonald.

The final hour was a question-and-answer period where owners asked about assault-weapon confiscation, privacy policy and registration requirements, but most wanted to comment on their rights.

“This isn’t about our guns. It’s about our grandchildren’s,” said Mike Fournier of Malone, adding that Second Amendment rights are even more strongly worded in New York’s Constitution than in the federal Constitution.

“I will never comply, ever,” he shouted, which was met with rousing applause.

A section of new law upgrades the penalty to a D class felony for possession of ammunition clips that hold more than 10 bullets.

Fournier stood to read from a list of crimes that are considered less severe than that: luring a child; choking someone; third-degree rape; neglect; unlawful imprisonment; forcible touching; and arson, for example.

“Thirty laws in New York State are less serious than a 10 (expletive) bullets in your gun,” he said. “I will not comply.”

Many questions had no answers because the county officials said they have not been told by Albany how things should be handled.

One man who didn’t identify himself asked about passing his guns on to his wife and son and wanted to know if they would be confiscated or if he’d lose a long-owned weapon if, when attempting to register a gun, it has features that are now considered illegal.

Others held up pieces of gun butts or grips and questioned how attaching a small piece of plastic such as these could change the classification of a rifle, pistol or semi-automatic weapon from legal to illegal under the SAFE Act.

Another audience member encouraged those attending to join the National Rifle Association for the $30 fee because “they will fight for our Second Amendment rights.”

He also asked them to consider sending as little as $5 to the State Rifle and Pistol association to help fund its pending lawsuit against the state to repeal the gun law.

When asked if a trooper can confiscate his gun if a man is walking on his own property carrying an unregistered assault weapon for target practice, State Police Sr. Investigator Chris Keniston of the Troop B gun unit said the person would be warned they have 30 days to register it or the police can go in and take that one gun, but not any others.

Attendees were also encouraged to write to their elected officials to let their stance against the gun law be known.

Mulverhill added that both Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury) and Assemblywoman Janet Duprey (R-Peru) voted against the SAFE Act.

Email Denise A.