They pass resolution supporting controversial law’s repeal.
HOPEWELL — Two years have passed, but the Ontario County Board of Supervisors still feels the same way about New York's adopted gun control law.
State Sen. Michael Nozzolio, R-Fayette, and Sen. Kathleen Marchione, R-Halfmoon, introduced legislation that would repeal all or most of the SAFE Act. Sen. Rich Funke, R-Perinton, and Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, R-Canandaigua, have co-sponsored similar bills that seek the same purpose.
On Thursday inside the Ontario County Safety Training Facility, the board voted in overwhelming favor of a resolution in support of this legislation calling for a repeal of the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act of 2013.
The resolution handled by the supervisors on Thursday was introduced by Supervisor John Sheppard, R-Seneca.
The SAFE Act was passed by the state Senate on Jan. 14 and the state Assembly on Jan. 15 and was signed into law half an hour later by Cuomo. The resolution calls out this "rushed" process.
"(The SAFE Act) … continues to have a detrimental effect on hunters, sportsmen, legal gun owners an the firearms industry of New York while failing to adequately address illegal guns and mental illness considerations," the resolution states.
It goes on to state that the Board of Supervisors "acknowledge its responsibility to protect the rights afforded our constituents under the United State Constitution."
Supervisors voted in favor of similar legislation in March 2013, less than two months after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law.
The SAFE Act includes universal background checks, making gun trafficking a felony and requiring criminal background checks on all gun and ammunition sales even between private individuals.
The SAFE Act also redefined an assault weapon so that many popular AR-15s and several other rifles, pistols and shotguns can no longer be sold legally in New York. The legislation states that New Yorkers who bought one previously are required to register it.
The legislation was written in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn. In his 2013 end-of-year report, Cuomo touted the SAFE Act as "one of the toughest and most comprehensive gun control measures in the nation" and said its purpose is to "reduce violence and protect all New Yorkers."
A few county residents showed up at Wednesday's meeting to combat the governor's view and support the resolution.
"The Second Amendment right belongs to individuals, not states or cities," said Doug Negley, who chairs the Ontario County chapter of the Shooters Committee on Political Education (SCOPE).
"You'll recall many of our forefathers died for this right," he added. "As we all know, the Second Amendment isn't about money, it's about tyranny. The founding fathers weren't worried about us being able to bag a duck or a deer. They were worried about us being able to keep our fundamental freedoms."
After Sheppard presented the measure, debate ensued.
"Individuals that go to work everyday, pay their taxes, probably never had so much as a speeding ticket — now they are looking at possible felony arrest," said Supervisor Robert Green Jr., R-Bristol.
Supervisor Ted Fafinski, R-Farmington, noted that the SAFE Act is an attempt to make New Yorkers safer through restrictions, which he deemed faulty. He asked and provided an answer to the question, "Who's doing the shooting?"
"Ninety eight percent of the time it's someone with criminal intent, and 98 percent of the time, they're not a registered gun owner," Fafinski said.
"The people who are being punished by the way this legislation is configured are the people that complied with the law," he added. "It isn't the people that are pulling the triggers — they don't have registered guns. They buy them on the street or something. So it doesn't make sense. It was ill-conceived then and it's ill-conceived now."
Supervisor Charlie Evangelista, D-Geneva City, noted that he didn't support the resolution when it came up shortly after the legislation was signed in 2013 and he had no intention of supporting it now.
"A barber needs a license," he said. "I think its not unreasonable to say that if you have a gun that it should be licensed, that it should be registered."
Supervisor Mark Venuti, D-town of Geneva, debated the suggestion that the SAFE Act attacks the constitutional rights of New Yorkers.
"I've seen some evidence — convincing evidence — that part of the motivation for the Second Amendment was from Southern states who wanted militias to be able to control slave revolts," Venuti said. "So it's not all a perfect thing.
"We don't have to go back there to try to figure out what was the purpose of the Second Amendment," the supervisor added. "The U.S. Supreme Court recently determined that an individual has the right to have weapons … but all of our rights are subject to regulation."
Despite the opposition from the vocal few, the board voted in favor of the resolution 17-4.
Aside from Venuti and Evangelista, supervisors John Cowley, D-Naples, and Dominick Vedora, D-Geneva City, were the other supervisors voting against the measure.