Press-Republican

March 7, 2013

Gun ownership rally planned in Saranac Lake

By KIM SMITH DEDAM
Press-Republican

---- — SARANAC LAKE —  Plans are being made for a peaceful demonstration here Sunday to add local voices to a call for repealing the new state gun law.

A fledgling group called Sons and Daughters of Liberty will hold a rally from 1 to 5 p.m. at Harrietstown Town Hall in the village.

Organizer Ken Kunath said the group is just now organizing to present a North Country pro-gun-ownership perspective for protection of Second Amendment rights.

“We hope to at least form a group to protect our amendments under the constitution and to oppose those trying to suppress them,” he told the Press-Republican on Wednesday.

Kunath watched closely as a massive rally unfolded in Albany last week.

Unable to attend, he decided to plan a gathering here.

He said the local counties have not weighed in on gun rights as they relate to the new law in New York.

But Franklin County Legislature is slated to discuss the issue today. A measure opposing the law is on the agenda for the session that starts at 9 a.m.

LIMITS ROUNDS

The Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act (SAFE Act) was signed into law Jan. 15 by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, marking the first tighter gun-control legislation to go into effect in the United States after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. 

The massacre left 20 elementary-school children and six school staff members dead, along with the male shooter and his mother.

New York’s new law, among other restrictions, bans semiautomatic rifles and handguns with military-style components.

It also limits ammunition in gun magazines to seven rounds and requires background checks and tracking in the purchase of ammunition.

“We decided to rally on the 10th with the idea that it will still keep us focused on what is happening as opposed to being forgotten after the bigger rallies are over,” Kunath said Wednesday.

“One of the big issues here is the State Police department’s approach on this. The larger question is that, when they require you to register your weapon, we really want to know what the future intent is going to be with that information. Every gun owned in New York is recorded somewhere, somehow. Every gun has a serial number that is already recorded.”

‘FOCUS ON CRIMINALS’

The concern of gun owners is focusing on Second Amendment rights, he said.

“The Second Amendment right — adopted by New York state in 1790  — is ‘the right to bear arms.’ It doesn’t say: This is what arms you can bear, or this is what you can’t bear.

“We believe legislation for gun use should be more focused on the people that are committing these crimes and are really falling through the cracks of society.”

The plan is to hold a peaceful, general rally, Kunath said, with a few local speakers and town officials.

State lawmakers, including Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury) and Assemblywoman Janet Duprey (R-Peru), plan to send statements to be read aloud, he added, since neither representative can be there Sunday.

Both voted against SAFE legislation.

‘CONSTITUTION REPRESSED’

“What I really find impressive about New York state is the effort every county sheriff rallied up against this,” Kunath said.

“I think it’s all based on not turning back time or repressing the U.S. Constitution.”

He couldn’t estimate how many people are expected to attend the rally but said some local sportsmen’s clubs and rod-and-gun club members plan to participate.

“If we do get 100 or 200 people, I’d be happy with that,” Kunath said.

PROVISIONS CHALLENGED

The new gun law has drawn opposition from county leaders in many of the state’s 62 counties with county boards and legislators calling for partial repeal or at least public hearings on the new law.

Essex and Franklin counties have not weighed in officially, although Essex County plans to hold a special meeting on the gun law on March 18.

The law appears to give counties responsibility for determining what mental-health issues are likely to raise concern.

County officials have also challenged provisions in the new law that could require sheriff’s deputies to confiscate guns from owners deemed ineligible to have them. 

“Essentially, the legislators and supervisors are responding to their constituencies,” Stephen Acquario, executive director of the New York State Association of Counties, said last week.

“So the county legislatures are bringing this viewpoint to the state and expressing that through resolutions.”

Email Kim Smith Dedam: kdedam@pressrepublican.com