Rich Redman of Moriah speaks during the SAFE Act Task Force meeting March 11.
The Essex County Board of Supervisors will meet Monday, March 18 to voice their opinion on the New York SAFE Act.
Members of a special SAFE Act task force voted Monday, March 11, to seek a resolution from the full board asking the state to repeal the controversial gun laws which started taking effect Jan. 15.
With the vote, board chairman Randy Douglas called for a special board meeting to take place Monday, March 18, at 6 p.m. at the county chambers. The board will decide on the fate of the resolution at this meeting.
"We have had a lot of emails, phone calls and visits from people since this committee was formed," Chesterfield Supervisor Gerald Morrow, task force chair, said. "Every person that I have talked to is in favor of repealing the SAFE Act."
Morrow and North Hudson Supervisor Ronald Moore both introduced draft resolutions to repeal the law. Both were similar, and the task force voted to use the draft by Morrow.
A third option, which asked for the state to look at amending the law, was presented by Elizabethtown Town Supervisor Margret Bartley but not accepted by the group.
"I pulled up the 14 provisions of the SAFE Act and have handed out copies for people to show what they agreed with and what they did not agree with," Bartley said. "I have had the range of people coming in and saying that you have to repeal the SAFE Act and others who have come in and said that the law does not go far enough. I wanted to make sure that everyone's wishes could be out there, and not just one group of people."
County Manager Daniel Palmer said that he had read through the entire SAFE Act and was in favor of repeal instead of amend.
"It is so far reaching and it impacts so many parts of the law that it does not make practical sense to try and amend it," Palmer said. "The practical thing to do probably is repeal the law and start over. It is impacting a lot of honest, taxpaying citizens’ lives for no good reason other than facing political pressure."
Palmer added that it would take about $1,000 annually to comply with new regulations that would be placed on the county as well as an additional employee.
Already, County Clerk Joe Provoncha said that his office had added an additional computer station to help handle the expected workload associated with the new law.
Palmer also spoke to the mental health aspect of the law.
"It aggravates the problem because if you count on that interaction and then a state trooper knocks on your door because of something you may have said, you are never going to a therapist again," Palmer said. "You have some that are not going to report anything and some that are going to try and cover their bases and report everything. Once people start finding out that their confidential conversations with a therapist are subject to being known about by state police, that is going to be a problem."
Sheriff Richard Cutting, who had already spoke to the board about the impact on law enforcement, addressed the board about the impact the law could have on sportsmen.
"The loss of the hunters not coming to the area would mean guides would no longer be able to make money and the beds at local hotels would be vacant that were not before because hunters may have guns that are now illegal in the state or they are protesting coming to the state or whatever," Cutting said. "It is a tremendous industry in New York state and without some consideration and some amendment to this law, there will be a significant impact on the state and revenue."
Along with these issues, several also spoke about the speed at which the law was passed.
"The fact that this law was passed bypassing the democratic system and the chance to have debate over it," Moore said. "They took advantage of a tragedy and utilized that as a vehicle to push this through. This is so fundamentally wrong."
"They did not go through the due process," Morrow said. " If we let them get away with that this time, they will try to do it again. There are a lot of things in the law that are confusing, that law enforcement officials can't seem to get their hands around. It needs to go through the proper channels."
"This was done so rapidly," Cutting said. "A lot of our winter business at the annual Sheriff's Association meeting got set aside for this issue. The general feeling was that this law lacks. This law would have done nothing to prevent Sandy Hook or Columbine or any of those massacres. All of these things are what I see as simple, rush-through errors."
"All of our states and the federal government has a process that allows all of us to say that we have a part in this. This is a law that we did not have a part in," Crown Point Supervisor Charles Harrington said. "There are very few examples where a government has to say we did not have a law yesterday and we need it today. We need to have our leaders own up to the fact that they acted way too fast and did not own up to the whole picture."
Only one person took to the stand when Morrow asked for public comment and spoke in favor of a repeal.
"As elected leaders of our county, you have taken an oath to defend the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which includes the second amendment," Rich Redman of Moriah said. "The New York State Legislature are trying to take away the rights of law-abiding citizens. This is about government seizing control and taking away our personal liberties. There could also be impact because there is a lot of pressure in the sportsmen community to not buy licenses here but go to Vermont of Pennsylvania to hunt. That would be a huge impact on the revenue from $80 to $90 licenses."