Saratoga County officials will urge repeal of the New York SAFE Act when they meet with local state legislators later this week, county officials said Monday.
County Board of Supervisors Chairman Alan Grattidge, R-Charlton, announced the county’s opposition and distributed recent statements against the new gun control law made by Sheriff James D. Bowen and the Deputy Sheriff’s Police Benevolent Association.
“As a supporter of the Second Amendment, I believe we have God-given, fundamental, Constitutional rights to keep and bear arms and the right to self-defense,” Grattidge said. “I believe this law seeks to erode those rights, and for that reason I believe it should be repealed.”
The New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act was adopted by the state Legislature in January in response to the school shootings Dec. 14 in Newtown, Conn. The law, proposed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, puts new controls on assault weapons and requires mental health professionals to report patients they believe may be threats, among other things.
Since the law was adopted, a national debate about gun control issues has heated up, and so has criticism of the SAFE Act. It passed under a Cuomo-requested “message of necessity,” which waived normal provisions for legislative review. It became law before there had been a wider public discussion, critics contend.
“By all accounts — even supporters who admit that chapter amendments will be necessary — the bill has major flaws, and its passage was rushed,” Grattidge said.
Since the law was adopted, formal opposition has come from a number of counties and towns in generally rural and Republican areas. Schoharie and Fulton county supervisors have passed resolutions this month, and Montgomery County supervisors will act today.
Citizens angry about the perceived roll-back of Second Amendment rights have held meetings, including a recent one at which Bowen spoke.
Grattidge said Saratoga County could consider such a resolution in March, but didn’t act this month because county officials want to do a careful review of the law’s county-level impacts before taking a position.
Based on the analysis, Grattidge said there will be new enforcement requirements on police agencies, new paperwork for the county clerk and new legal work for the county attorney, as well as an impact on county mental health personnel. There’s a concern that those changes will require the county to hire more people, creating another “unfunded mandate” from the state.
Sheriff Bowen and the deputies’ union are concerned about issues, including enforcing a requirement that older assault weapons, ones that are now legal, must be registered by their owners.
County leaders will make their case to the local Assembly and state Senate delegation Thursday at the state Capitol in Albany.