Schoharie County is asking New York state to keep the county’s official seal off websites and other communication that involves the state’s controversial gun legislation known as the SAFE Act.
A resolution approved Friday marks the second time the county took a swing at the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act.
In March, the Board of Supervisors sent a letter to Albany letting state officials know the county won’t spend any money enforcing the law that bans assault-style guns, limits ammunition magazine capacity and adds more paperwork to gun ownership.
Carlisle town Supervisor Larry Bradt, who helped organize an anti-SAFE Act rally in Schoharie earlier this year, read aloud the resolution drafted at the request of county Sheriff Tony Desmond before calling Desmond to the microphone.
“This SAFE Act has been a thorn in the Sheriff’s Office’s side since it was passed,” said Desmond, a vocal opponent of the law.
Desmond learned the state is seeking to use the county seal on documents being mailed to pistol owners to remind them the new SAFE Act requires a recertification process.
Desmond said authorities are already notified when registered pistol owners are arrested or sent to a hospital for mental health issues and the county judge can revoke the pistol permit.
He said he fears the state will use the pistol permit recertification process to not only reject pistol permits but to go further and use that same rejection to take long guns that don’t require a permit.
“This is something more like complete gun control, moving to take guns away from people, in my estimation,” Desmond said.
The county already announced it didn’t plan to spend money enforcing the SAFE Act, Desmond said, and he believes including official Schoharie County seals on SAFE Act-related material is akin to an endorsement.
“I don’t want to see a letter going out to people with a seal of Schoharie County or the Sheriff’s Office logo saying we want you to certify your pistol because I don’t think it’s necessary and I certainly don’t want to be any part of it,” Desmond said.
Esperance town Supervisor Earl Van Wormer said he was asked by a veteran to wear a hat in honor of county citizens opposed to the SAFE Act. Van Wormer said residents are posting “an awful lot of signs” decrying the law, so he put the hat on for a few minutes during the board meeting — drawing applause from the audience.
The black baseball cap depicted an assault-style gun and included the words “Come and Take It.”
“I think we need to keep this up because I think the governor is thinking that we’re going to let this thing go,” Van Wormer said.
Jefferson town Supervisor Daniel Singletary asked Desmond if he was suggesting citizens ignore the law. Desmond said that was not what he was saying.
“I don’t think that we have to be part of requiring them to do it,” Desmond said.
Schoharie County’s official seal depicts a horse galloping through a valley with mountains in the background.
It was adopted in 1847 and actually marks the second official seal of Schoharie County, according to Carle Kopecky, director of the Schoharie County Historical Society.
The horse represents part of an old tale about Palatine settlers who walked from Schoharie to Schenectady periodically in the 1700s to get flour in the days before they were growing and milling their own wheat.
Kopecky said the tale is memorialized in a short book by Walter D. Edmonds, author of “Drums Along the Mohawk.” It tells of the Schoharie settlers pitching in money to purchase a horse for the women who typically made the 20-mile round-trip to get flour.
The horse the women wanted had been sold before they arrived to buy it, so they purchased an old, gray mare that wasn’t in the best of shape. But the mare gave birth to a colt not long after and the settlers rejoiced at getting two horses for the price of one.
The current seal was developed during the romantic Victorian Era, when ancestors were heralded, said Kopecky, who isn’t particularly fond of the second seal.
Schoharie County’s first official seal depicts a plow and a sheaf of wheat.
Despite the showering of applause Schoharie County supervisors received when they voiced opposition to the SAFE Act, it was not a unanimous sentiment. Seward town Supervisor J. Carl Barbic, who votes against these and similar resolutions, said he has personal reasons for not liking guns but he’s not an anti-gun person.
Barbic said he believes there is a place for assault weapons, but only in the hands of the military during war.
He said he favors the law to keep these guns from killing innocent people outside of war, and he doesn’t suspect an ulterior motive on the part of bigger government.
“Nobody’s going to take your guns away,” Barbic said.
He said he receives “numerous” calls from constituents supporting his decisions when he votes “no,” against the grain of the board’s majority.
Carlisle town Supervisor Larry Bradt plans to bring opposition to the SAFE Act into the New Year. After Friday’s resolution won approval, Bradt announced he’s asking Schoharie County residents who agree with him to help make a point near the one-year anniversary of the law’s Jan. 15, 2013, passage.
In an effort to sound off, he’s asking every Schoharie County gun owner to demonstrate his opposition to the SAFE Act on Saturday, Jan. 11. Bradt said he and other gun owners will be firing one single shot, in a “safe and legal manner,” at noon that day.