Essex County Board of Supervisors
Essex County Lawmakers will decide today if their voice will join the growing number of counties that have called for state legislators and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to re-think the SAFE Act.
The full Board of Supervisors will meet March 18 at 6 p.m. in the Old Courthouse to discuss and vote on a resolution calling for the state to repeal the hotly-debated law. The SAFE Act task force passed the proposed resolution onto the full board during its lone meeting March 11.
"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 last week. "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.
Sheriff Richard Cutting will present a law enforcement view on the law.
"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."
Board Chairman Randy Douglas said that the meeting will include the presentation by Cutting, a chance for the public to speak and then board discussion before a vote is made. Douglas said that public comment would be limited to three minutes per person.
Below is a draft of the Essex County resolution:
CALLING FOR REPEAL OF THE ENACTMENT OF
THE NEW YORK SAFE ACT
WHEREAS, the right of the people to keep and bear arms is guaranteed as an individual right under the second amendment of the United State Constitution and that this right is regarded as an inalienable right of the people of Essex County; and
WHEREAS, the lawful ownership and use of firearms is, and has been, a valued tradition in Essex County and that the right to bear arms is exercised by many Essex County residents for which the County of Essex derives economic and environmental benefits from safe forms of recreation involving firearms which includes hunting and target shooting; and
WHEREAS, our New York State representatives could not and did not have the time to request and receive the input of their constituents regarding this matter which is the standard by which the Essex County Board of Supervisors holds itself to when it comes to the enactment of such a controversial law and is a matter of simple due process; and
WHEREAS, the crafting of the New York SAFE Act resulted in complex policy changes, many subject to interpretation and are confusing to a vast number of public officials as well as the law enforcement officials who are required to enforce and explain them; and
WHEREAS, there is the potential of a significant financial impact on Essex County which will result due to sections of the Act which will require additional manpower and computer systems, as well as the tax share our residents will have to contribute if the proposed 2013-2014 budget spending of $36 million dollars for the implementations of the New York SAFE Act is enacted, at a time when all New York State residents are asking for tax relief; and
WHEREAS, requiring law-abiding gun owners to verify ownership of certain types of firearms every five years, in addition to registering them on their permits which now also must be renewed every five years does not increase the safety of the public and is unnecessarily burdensome to the residents of New York State; and
WHEREAS, the only persons who will comply with the new high-capacity magazine ban are law-abiding citizens, leaving the same high-capacity magazines in the hands of those who choose not to obey the law; and
WHEREAS, requiring documentation of all ammunition sales in New York State, as provided for in this legislation, is a significant unfunded mandate on businesses; and
WHEREAS, this legislation fails to offer any meaningful solutions to gun violence and places increased burdens where they do not belong, squarely on the backs of law-abiding citizens; and
WHEREAS, this legislation effectively turns countless New York State law-abiding gun owners into criminals; and
WHEREAS, while there are some areas of the legislation that the Essex County Board of Supervisors finds encouraging, such as addressing glaring shortcomings in the mental health system, the strengthening of Kendra’s Law and Mark’s Law (which provides additional penalties for assaulting first responders), as well as privacy protections for pistol permit holders, by-and-large, we find the legislation does little more than negatively impact lawful gun ownership;
NOW, THERE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Essex County Board of Supervisors does hereby demand the repeal of all the sections of the New York SAFE Act which we believe infringes upon the right of the people to keep and bear arms; and is our opinion unconstitutional under both the Federal and State Constitution; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Essex County Board of Supervisors strongly encourages the members of the New York State Legislature to hold public hearings to address the issue of gun violence in a way that will produce meaningful results; and be it further
RESOLVED, that the Essex County Board of Supervisors requests the members of the New York State Senate and Assembly who represent all or part of Essex County, to reply in writing, with their views on, and actions taken, in support of, or opposition to, the New York SAFE Act; and be it further
RESOLVED, that copies of this resolution be sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo, Assemblyman Dan Spec, Senator Elizabeth Little, Assemblywomen Janet Duprey and the New York State Association of Counties.