PLATTSBURGH — If Monday’s Public Safety Committee meeting is any indication, many people in Clinton County are opposed to the state’s new gun law.
County legislators are ready to back them up by sending a strongly worded resolution to Albany.
“The way it was done was manipulative,” Public Safety Committee Chairman Robert Butler (R-Area 6, Saranac) said about the new law, known as the NY SAFE Act of 2013.
“You can’t take input away from the citizens.”
The law was quickly approved by the State Legislature and signed into law Jan. 15 by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
A Marist poll done soon after the law passed found that 41 percent of New Yorkers thought it was “about right,” 30 percent said it went too far, and 19 percent felt it didn’t go far enough.
As of Tuesday, according to www.nysaferesolutions.com, 51 of 62 counties had passed resolutions either opposing the legislation or asking for changes to its provisions.
The bill imposes a much stricter definition of assault weapons and a ban on those firearms; requires mental-health professionals to report to local officials when they suspect a person may engage in conduct that could cause serious harm to themselves or others; and limits the capacity of gun magazines, among other provisions.
About 40 people packed the Legislative Chambers to let the committee know how they felt.
Normally, members of the public do not attend committee meetings or address legislators at them. But Butler said he felt it was important for those on hand Monday night to be heard.
“This is exactly what they are upset about; there was no public input for this law, and they want to be heard, and they should be,” he said.
Over about an hour, 16 people spoke strongly against the law, asking the committee to forward a resolution to the full County Legislature that asks Albany to repeal the SAFE Act.
“This law is buffoonish, clownish and disingenuous because it was passed by buffoons, clowns and liars,” resident Michael Phillips said.
He said the bill was rushed through without any public input and was a knee-jerk reaction to the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Conn., last December.
“They are standing on the bloodstained ground of Newtown, and they can’t even get it right,” he said.
Karen Bisso, who lost her bid for State Assembly last year as a Conservative Party candidate, said the law is simply unconstitutional.
“It must be repealed,” she said.
Michael and Ann-Marie Farrell of Plattsburgh said they have obtained about 1,000 signatures from people around the county who do not like the new law.
“Don’t let them (Albany) push us around,” Mr. Farrell said.
Rick Nazak of Peru said that if people in this country do not like U.S. laws allowing guns, then they can move to Canada, Mexico, Somalia or Kenya.
“They’ll love you in Kenya. They love liberals,” he said.
Ken Maurer of Plattsburgh said he was a 10-year military veteran who will defend his right to own guns.
“If they try to take my guns, my son’s guns or my neighbor’s guns, I will spend the rest of my life in prison,” he said.
Sheriff David Favro also spoke, saying that while no one at the meeting Monday night spoke in favor of the law, some people in the county do support it.
“There are also people who don’t support any part of this,” he said.
The original resolution that the legislature was going to vote on tonight called for reconsideration of the new law. But the crowd asked repeatedly for stronger wording, saying it should be repealed altogether.
The committee agreed and withdrew the resolution, calling a meeting for Tuesday morning to draw up a new measure.
The new resolution substitutes the word “repeal” instead of “reconsideration.”
It also asks for a possible amendment “of certain provisions contained therein that negatively affect law-abiding citizens, business persons, the health and mental-health communities and county government.”
Legislator Jonathan Beach (R-Area 2, Altona), a member of the Public Safety Committee, agreed with the changes.
“My constituents want to know what the county is thinking,” he said.
The full legislature will vote on the resolution at its meeting at 7 tonight at the Clinton County Government Center on Margaret Street in Plattsburgh.
There will be an opportunity for more public comments at the meeting.
Email Joe LoTemplio:firstname.lastname@example.orgON THE WEB See the resolutions passed by New York state counties and towns at nysaferesolutions.com.