Assemblyman talks about state issues with residents at meeting in Palmyra.
The state’s new gun law was on the minds of residents meeting with Assemblyman Robert Oaks, R-Macedon, last week at the Palmyra Town Hall.
The meeting on Tuesday, April 2 was the last in a series of eight town hall-style meetings Oaks was hosting throughout the 130th Assembly District.
Oaks, who currently sits on the Assembly’s Ways and Means committee, came prepared to share information regarding the budget process as well as the NY SAFE Act, which gun rights proponents have criticized.
Several in attendance came donning tee-shirts and buttons indicating their affiliation with the Shooters Committee on Political Education (SCOPE), a Western New York-based grassroots organization advocating for 2nd Amendment rights with an active Wayne County chapter.
Oaks drove home the reality that New York is a culturally diverse state that struggles to meet the needs of the starkly different lifestyles of residents upstate versus downstate, which most people classify as Rockland and Westchester counties, New York City and Long Island.
“I voted against (the SAFE Act) for a number of reasons,” said Oaks. “I feel it was put through in a very fast, ram-rod way … and was crafted with little input by a very few amount of people. I agree that we have a violence problem in our society, but are we making our society safer by limiting the existing rights of law-abiding firearm owners in this state?”
Oaks went back to the cultural divide between upstate and downtown and how guns are viewed.
“The way New York is divided with two-thirds living below the Tappan-Zee Bridge, a lot of those people’s experiences with firearms are police and criminals. Up here, many learn how to use firearms with fathers and uncles, and it’s more about enjoyment of the outdoors, exercise and leisure. These two perspectives clash.”
Other questions raised over the evening were ranged from budget concerns from stimulus checks to the definition of the term “middle class” in New York State.
“I guess in Long Island, $300,000 (annual salary) is considered middle class,” Oaks quipped.
Many still had questions about the real property tax caps that went into effect in 2011, the timeline for repairs on local highways and bridges, Medicaid benefits for public employees, hydrofracking and school redistricting.
Rounding out the evening, Oaks assured those attending the session that when in Albany, he sees his role as an ambassador for western New York residents. He drove home his goal of passing legislation that would not have a disparate impact on upstate residents.
“I’m going to be working hard to make sure downstate people get perspective on what we need to be successful here,” said Oaks.