Schenectady gun law forum draws doubts, angry voices

Wednesday, January 30, 2013
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New York State Police Col. Thomas Fazio discusses the New York SAFE Act at the main branch of the Schenectady County Public Library in Schenectady on Wednesday.
New York State Police Col. Thomas Fazio discusses the New York SAFE Act at the main branch of the Schenectady County Public Library in Schenectady on Wednesday.

— Hunters and competitive shooters fired questions about the state’s new gun control law at state police during a forum Wednesday, but left frustrated as a prominent inquiry was left unanswered: Why was the law implemented?

“You don’t know the why. You’re just implementing the law that got passed by the Legislature,” said Matthew Caron of Galway to applause.

Caron was one of about 100 people attending the event organized by New York State Police and held at the Schenectady County Public Library to explain the new gun control legislation.

Formally known as the NY SAFE Act, the law bans sale of assault-style weapons, caps the amount of rounds a magazine can hold at seven, requires private gun sellers to conduct background checks on prospective buyers and increases penalties on people using illegal guns.

The law was prompted by the massacre of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Dec. 14, and the murder of two firefighters and wounding of three other emergency personnel by an ex-convict during their response to a fire at his house in West Webster, Monroe County, the day before Christmas.

Col. Thomas Fazio, field commander of the New York State Police, stressed that people had little to fear from the legislation.

“We’re not going to be coming crashing into your houses and taking your guns,” Fazio said.

People who own assault weapons currently are allowed to keep them but must register them with New York State Police no later than April 15, 2014. There is no fee.

If gun owners remove one of the features that define the gun an assault weapon, they do not have to register the gun. These features include folding or telescoping stock, protruding pistol grip, flash suppressor, muzzle brake and others.

People also have the option of selling their assault weapons to out-of-state dealers.

Effective April 15 of this year, only magazines capable of containing seven rounds or less can be sold in New York.

Steven Baker of Knox said he has three rifles that would now be banned under the law and questioned the purpose of the legislation.

“I do not believe that this law will save one life, stop one school shooting or take the gun out of the hands of one criminal,” he said.

Sgt. Jim Sherman of the state police’s Pistol Permit Bureau said it is not police’s job to justify the law.

“Those who don’t like the law are not going to be convinced it’s a good law,” he said.

Other questions included how much ammunition would a person have to purchase before it raised a red flag with police.

Sherman said there is not a magic number, but police will easily know that a person is a target shooter and buys set quantities of ammunition.

State Police officials also said they anticipated there would be legal challenges to the law as they could not provide an answer for every hypothetical question posed. One person asked what would happen if he owned one of these types of weapons and leaves it at the house, where his wife uses to defend herself.

Frank Spadaro, a member of both the SaraSpa and Clifton Park gun clubs, said there are probably few crimes committed with modern sporting rifles. “This is a knee jerk situation that we have all put up with.”

Investigator Pat Hogan of state police’s Gun Investigation Unit said legislators were trying to reduce the chances these weapons get into the hands of potential mass shooters. Any remedy lies with the legislators.

People with gun-related questions are encouraged to visit the website or call a special hotline at 1-855-LAWGUNS (1-855-529-4867).

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January 31, 2013
1:11 p.m.
jbatease says...

The problem with this law is that "assault" weapons are not the killer they are made out to be. Many more people are killed with stolen hand guns. We had a knee jerk reaction to a serious problem. The problem w/Fazio saying that they will not enter our homes to take guns- maybe not now but now you have our info....... maybe later. The real solution is to licence anyone who wants any kind of gun or ammo. You could require a mental health eval and you could re-licence every five years or so. Maybe show proof you have gun locks or a safe etc. We require a licence for a car but not a gun ? Stop all of the panic and require our government to act in a mature and well thought out way. NOT in the fashion that this law came about.

January 31, 2013
5:08 p.m.
Sparkys_Dad says...

The authors of this new gun safe law are being disingenuous at best. If gun safety was their premise, then why isn't there any real, meaty gun safety programs addressed in the new law? Seems to me it's a gun tracking program with the ultimate end of charging for gun registration, permits and gun-insurance (think about that one). Sounds like revenue enhancement to some of us. Failure to comply might lead to voluntary surrender of the firearms. No cops are going to come and take our guns away---we will give them up freely! Health practitioners will be responsible for deciding if the gun owner is mentally fit to own a firearm or not. On psychotropic meds? No guns for you! Wife on meds? Guns in the house? No guns for you! Got a sketchy driving record and 1 too many DWI's? No guns for you! Failed to report that AR and register all your firearms in a timely manner? Did you cross the line with all those hi-cap magazines you forgot you had in the drawer? You might just possibly be charged with a felony and guess what? Correct me if I'm wrong but convicted felons lose their right to vote in NYS. So, you got to ask yourself: Is it worth the risk to keep all these guns? For what?

January 31, 2013
5:36 p.m.
irishlad1234 says...

That's the problem jbatease, the government! Read the 2nd Amendment! As you may know, it was not meant for hunting, but for tyranny and that is what is now taking place in this Country. Almost all our Amendments evolves around the 2nd amendment.People don't really know, that it was made up to protect us from Big Government.
I put a handle on my 30.06 and now I have an assault rifle. It is a semi automatic rifle, it shoots one shot at a time!There is no such thing as an assault rifle Weather I own a weapon or not, is none of anyone's business, especially the government! Lets start by registering the mentally ill, and make sure that they are being treated and make sure that they don't have a weapon of any kind!I think parents should be arrested if they were required to register their sons or daughters who might have mental problems, and they didn't!

January 31, 2013
5:37 p.m.
ThePhilistine says...

This type of forum should have been held before the law was enacted and the peoples input should have been considered. This is not how law should be made and passed in America.

January 31, 2013
5:55 p.m.
Sparkys_Dad says...

ThePhilistine-- Yes! Where was the necessity? Where was the emergency? Crying wolf is not a good way to govern. I liked the way Gov. Cuomo handled the Hurricane Sandy tragedy (I was kinda proud, actually) but now he went over the top. He no longer has my support. I was told you don't mess with the second's not negotiable. I thought Andrew Cuomo was one of the good guys. (Sigh.)

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