The Journal Register (Medina, NY)

February 18, 2013

County calls for SAFE repeal

Medina Journal-Register

Medina Journal-Register — ALBION — While one front of the gun debate focused in on the eastern end of county this weekend, a wholly different type of protest was launched from the chambers of the Orleans County Legislature last week.

A group of gun owners, hunters and shooting sports enthusiasts applauded Wednesday as the County Legislature approved a resolution opposing the gun control act passed by state last month and called for it to be repealed.

The NY Safe Act was swiftly passed in both houses of the state legislature in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre last month. It sought to reduce gun violence, but county legislators said it needs to be re-evaluated for reasons both related to the second-amendment rights and economic and procedural concerns.

“This law hurts the economic and environmental benefits we see from recreational fire arms and hunting,” said Legislator Lynne Johnson, who moved a resolution that received unanimous seconding for repeal. “While there are some areas of the legislation that the (county legislature) finds encouraging ... by-and-large, we find the legislation does little more than negatively impact lawful gun ownership.

The legislation passed Wednesday says more than 5,000 gun permits have been issued in Orleans County. A half-dozen of those permit-holders spoke in favor of the act’s repeal.

Mattie Zarpentine of Holley, who described herself as a law-abiding mom, said the state’s action went too far.

“This legislation was wrongly executed,” said Zarpentine, who contacted members of the legislators in support of a repeal resolution. “It makes an entire group of law-abiding citizens become criminals with the stroke of a pen.”

“All I want is to live in peace,” Jim Flint of Ridgeway said. “I’m bothered by rights being taken away.”

The legislature’s actions came on the same day that several members of the western New York state assembly delegation hosted a forum seeking to address failing in the new law. The coalition heard testimony from experts in the fields of school psychology and mental health care, educators, law enforcement and Second Amendment advocates about and what comprehensive measures can be taken by the state to improve the safety of every citizen.

Assemblywoman Jane Corwin, R-Clarence, who is crafting legislation based on the recommendations of the National Association of School Psychologists, said there are actions the state can take to reduce gun violence that weren’t addressed in the NY Safe Act.

“My goal is to address the root causes of violence in our communities and to provide our schools with the resources needed to educate children about violence and guns, reduce the stigma attached to mental health and improve access to mental health care for those who need it,” Corwin said, “and to repeal the provisions of the NY Safe Act that hinder our collective goal to keep our children, our homes and our neighborhoods safe.”

A repeal of the act seems unlikely, as large majorities in both houses (104 to 43 in the Assembly and 48 to 13 in the Senate) approved the act’s passage. Orleans County’s three representatives — Corwin, Assemblyman Steve Hawley and State Sen. George Maziarz each voted against the act.

But at the local level, activists for the act’s repeal were heartened by the reception they received from the county legislature.

“I’m very relieved,” Zarpentine said. “This renews the faith I’ve lost in a lot of our legislatures. I hope we can get this repealed.”