Catskills county governments take aim at SAFE Act

Photo of L1A1 SLR semi-automatic rifle by Flickr user Keary O. Published under Creative Commons license.

County governments across upstate New York are weighing in against New York State's new gun control law, the SAFE Act. By the time the dust settles on a spate of pending resolutions, the list of anti-SAFE Act counties is likely to include most or all of the Catskills region. 

On Friday, the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors voted 15-1 to pass a resolution opposing the SAFE Act. News 10 reports:

The resolution calls for repealing the new law; explaining the it infringes on people's rights and describes it as unnecessary.

The resolution opposes the process of the enactment and certain provisions, including the ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines.

The Greene County legislature is likely to vote on a similar resolution on Wednesday. Chairman Wayne Speenburgh, a Republican from Coxsackie, held a press conference Friday in which he told reporters the resolution has enough support to pass:

A special Greene County Public Safety Committee meeting is being held Tuesday for the introduction of a resolution calling for the repeal of Cuomo’s New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act.

“We believe we have the support to pass this at our public safety meeting on Tuesday,” Speenburgh said, “and then our whole legislature on Wednesday night at our regular monthly meeting.”

Ulster County legislators will vote on an anti-SAFE Act resolution tonight, at their regular monthly meeting. The bill has the support of the Republican majority, and is almost certain to pass, the Freeman reports:

Majority Leader Kenneth Ronk introduced the resolution, which is five pages long and offers 32 separate reasons for the request, after more than 200 people packed the Legislature’s chambers in January to oppose to the new state law and a resolution introduced last month by Democratic county lawmakers looking for the federal government to implement nationwide gun regulations.

The resolution opposing the SAFE Act is co-sponsored by the entire 12-member GOP caucus in the 23-member Legislature, virtually assuring its clear passage through the full Ulster County Legislature.

The turnout for tonight's meeting is expected to be so high that the meeting has been moved from the Ulster County office building to the Ulster Performing Arts Center at 601 Broadway in Kingston. The Freeman will cover the meeting live on the web.

The Delaware County Board of Supervisors will vote on an anti-SAFE Act resolution at their next regular monthly meeting, Wednesday, February 27. Chairman Jim Eisel, supervisor of Harpersfield, told the Watershed Post that the resolution would be sent out to supervisors for review on Friday. 

Eisel expects the bill to pass.

"Cuomo did it in the dead of night and got it through. I think it's an abuse of power, and it certainly isn't democracy," he said. "I don't think we can change it, but we are going to oppose it."

So far, the Sullivan County legislature has not yet taken up the issue. But the county may soon consider a resolution, if an effort afoot to draft one gathers enough support from legislators.

Legislative vice chairman Gene Benson, a Democrat whose District 7 represents most of Fallsburg and a corner of Neversink, told the Watershed Post that he plans to bring up the issue of passing a resolution against the SAFE Act in an upcoming executive committee meeting on Thursday, February 21.

"If I can get a general consensus that they want to go for it, I will put it in resolution form," Benson said. "My bottom line is, we already have laws on the books, we should enforce them."

Resolutions passed by counties and towns in opposition to the SAFE Act have no force of law. Their purpose is to send a message to state legislators about where local governments stand on the issue.