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What you need to know for 01/23/2018

Schenectady County Legislature leaves use of county seal up to clerk

Schenectady County Legislature leaves use of county seal up to clerk

Local gun owners don’t want anything to do with the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcem

Local gun owners don’t want anything to do with the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act.

And they’ve renewed a push to urge the county to follow suit.

Several SAFE Act opponents spoke at the Schenectady County Legislature meeting Tuesday, urging legislators to prohibit the use of the county seal on correspondences related to the 2013 state law.

The gun owners weren’t happy with a resolution on the agenda sponsored by Democrat Cathy Gatta that clarified the county clerk’s role as the keeper of the seal. They had hoped it would include language prohibiting the seal’s use on any SAFE Act correspondence, but it does not.

“It says what the seal shall be used for but it doesn’t even generally say what the seal won’t be used for,” said Joe Yackel of Niskayuna, a member of the Iroquois Rod and Gun Club. “For example, I think that something like this, a resolution regarding our county seal, should explicitly state that it’s not to be used for purposes that would infringe, that would abridge, that would upheave, that would obstruct residents’ constitutional or civil rights.”

Under the SAFE Act, pistol permits must be renewed every five years, and that is done through the county clerk’s office. Forty-two of the state’s 62 counties have passed resolutions prohibiting the use of the county name, seal, letterhead, address or county officer names for any state purposes associated with the SAFE Act, according to

Legislators debated the issue before voting 10-4 against delaying the vote on the nonspecific resolution, which they later approved. Voting to delay the vote were Democrat Thomas Constantine, Conservative Grant Socha, and Republicans James Buhrmaster and Brian McGarry.

“The problem is this isn’t anything,” said Buhrmaster, the Republican minority leader who asked that the legislation be revisited. “There’s no teeth, there’s nothing to this, other than we’re saying, ‘Well, that’s fine, let’s let the clerk make the determination on whether the seal is used or not.’ ”

By approving the resolution, the Democrat-led Legislature left the determination of whether the seal should be placed on SAFE Act correspondences up to the county clerk, and avoided making a political statement for or against the SAFE Act.

“We need to have something that is all-encompassing and doesn’t just focus on the SAFE Act,” Gatta said.

Democrat Gary Hughes agreed. He said the resolution should be kept “as open as possible.”

“What we’re doing here is stating pretty clearly that the county clerk is in fact the custodian of the county seal, and is responsible for determining what county uses the seal has,” he said.

Several speakers also took the chance to ask the Legislature to join dozens of other counties in urging for the repeal of the SAFE Act.

“This law is a flawed, misguided, misdirected attempt to curb gun violence by imposing numerous restrictions on law-abiding citizens,” said Jim Retajczyk, a resident of Princetown and president of the Iroquois Rod & Gun Club.

Last March, Buhrmaster called on the Legislature to demand the SAFE Act’s repeal after dozens of residents packed the county chambers urging the same.

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