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What you need to know for 01/19/2017

Schenectady County legislators reject call to ask state to repeal SAFE Act

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Schenectady County legislators reject call to ask state to repeal SAFE Act

Schenectady County legislators will ask state leaders to revisit the Secure Ammunition and Firearms
Schenectady County legislators reject call to ask state to repeal SAFE Act
Joe Yackel of Niskayuna makes a point while speaking out against the New York SAFE Act during Tuesday’s meeting of the Schenectady County Legislature.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

Schenectady County legislators will ask state leaders to revisit the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, but refused to endorse the message of repeal urged by dozens of residents at a standing-room-only meeting Tuesday.

The Legislature soundly adopted a resolution calling on the state Senate and Assembly to conduct public hearings in regions throughout New York aimed at improving the law passed earlier this year and set to take effect this spring. Democrat Brian Gordon and Republican James Buhrmaster were the only two among the 13 legislators present to vote against the resolution, though for opposite reasons.

Gordon argued the so-called New York SAFE Act is fine in its entirety, citing statistics that show a decrease in gun-related deaths in those states with the strongest laws. Buhrmaster, the Legislature’s minority leader, said Schenectady County should send a message of repeal to Albany in protest of the shadowy manner in which the law was passed.

“This is the wrong way to govern,” he said of the law passed by the state Legislature and signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on the same day in mid-January. “This process was flawed and still is flawed.”

The vote followed roughly two hours of comments from opponents of the law, many of them claiming it impinges on rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution. Many of the more than three dozen speakers urged legislators to take up Buhrmaster’s call for a resolution endorsing repeal, saying that dozens of other counties across upstate New York are passing similar statements to the state Legislature.

Jason Fagel, a Glenville resident who helped organize the large turnout, said legislators should recognize how important repeal of the gun control law is to people, since so many took time from their day to send a message that is largely symbolic. He urged the county to send that same message to the Capitol.

“This is not how our government should work,” he said,

Steve Borst, owner of Target Sports in Rotterdam, said the new law will prevent him from shipping nearly three-quarters of the inventory he keeps at his store. He said many of his guns will be wiped out because of the lower magazine limits mandated by the law.

“This is a violation of our rights as Americans and our constitutional rights,” he said.

Felice Ford of Duanesburg wrapped herself in a Gadsden flag when she spoke. She urged nothing short of a repeal of the law, which she views as infringing on her freedoms.

“There’s no sugar coating it,” she said. “You’re stripping our rights.”

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