A slide from Essex County Sheriff Richard Cutting's presentation on the SAFE Act, which he plans to present throughout the county on an invitational basis.
Essex County officials have started to talk about one of the most debated pieces of state legislation in the tenure of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
During the Feb. 25 Ways and Means Committee meeting, county supervisors talked about pursuing a resolution that would be sent to the state concerning the SAFE Act, which set a band on guns deemed as assault weapons, magazine capacities and extends background checks on weapons and ammunition.
“Somewhere in the middle there should be a compromise,” Board Chairman and Jay Supervisor Randy Douglas said. “I would rather us have our own resolution because there are portions that I would be in favor of.”
Douglas said that, from the county’s perspective, the supervisors should express concerns to the governor’s office over the amount of money it would cost local counties and the effects it would have on law enforcement.
“We discussed the impact to the county, and if there was a cost factor associated to this and it looks like there will be an impact,” Douglas said. “I would rather attack it on that end. To oppose the whole thing, I do not know if that is good for us. Focus on the financial impact and the impact to our law enforcement would be the way to address this.”
North Hudson Supervisor Ronald Moore moved a resolution to support the opinions of the New York State Sheriffs Association. While supervisors were split, the motion was passed on to the full board meeting.
“There are 26 that have passed resolutions that are in opposition is some way,” Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava said. “What I am hearing from the majority of people is that they are concerned with the way that things were done.”
“Because there is so much emotion attached to this, I have been trying to get feedback from my constituents,” Elizabethtown Supervisor Margaret Bartley said. “Just saying that we are against an act that has 14 separate positions is just too vague.”
“Four or five they are somewhat supportive of and the rest they say need a little bit of work and a little bit of discussion,” Moore said. “I am not asking for our own resolution today. I am asking to support the sheriffs.”
“I think that this is a discussion that we need to have,” Chesterfield Supervisor Gerald Morrow said. “I am not for the SAFE Act because there are things that I do not like about it. However, if I went and voted to support the Sheriffs resolution without working on our instead of working on this for our county, I would be no better then the legislators who passed this without getting the proper input.”
County Sheriff Richard Cutting was asked to address the board about the NYSSA’s response to the SAFE Act.
“We tried to start with a positive and show the governor that we feel there are significant violent issue,” Cutting said. “We did not appreciate the fact that it was addressed pretty quickly and done without the consultant of law enforcement. Sitting down and discussing these things could have prevented a lot of the confusion that is out there today.”
Cutting added that he felt the object was being blamed more than people.
“We cannot demonize an object and expect to have results,” Cutting said. “The weapon has no evil intent.”
Cutting also spoke about the “military enhancements,” that constitute an assault weapon under the law.
“You did not change the magazine capacity or the ballistics,” Cutting said about a pair of shotguns that both had the same gauge and magazine capacity, while one had an altered stock. “All we did was put a hole in the stock and now it is seen as a bad thing. The people that this legislation affects are the law-abiding citizens that are going to register their weapons. We need to look at prosecution, more strict sentencing and educate for our children.”
Cutting said that he is planning to do presentation on the SAFE Act with the towns of Newcomb and Willsboro. The board asked him to also present his PowerPoint at the regular board meeting, scheduled for March 4.
Last week, New York State Assemblyman Dan Stec launched an online petition through his official Facebook Page to repeal the SAFE Act.
“While elements of the SAFE Act, such as the strengthening of Kendra’s Law, increased penalties for illegal firearm usage and the measures taken to protect first responders are measures I support, the fact remains that this bill severely restricts the constitutional rights of our sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts while ignoring overwhelming information that shows restricting access to firearms is not a solution to solving gun violence in our communities,” said Stec. “That is why I am launching a petition to repeal this misguided legislation. Our residents deserve a reasoned, logical approach to solving violence in our communities and not a knee-jerk response that only infringes upon responsible, law-abiding gun owners.”