Senators representing the region voice reasons for voting ‘no’ on gun measures
Gun control measures the state Legislature passed this past week drew criticism from Sens. Pam Helming of Canandaigua and Rich Funke of Perinton. The Republicans senators voted against the gun law Gov. Andrew Cuomo was expected to sign, stating reasons for their "no" votes on the Senate floor.
“Despite what some people may believe, no one wants violent or dangerous individuals owning firearms,” said Helming. “This bill has little to do with public safety and everything to do with politics.” She said several parts of the law “duplicate federal laws that are already on the books...I do believe it won’t make our community safer.”
Funke called the law “well intentioned, poorly written, not properly vetted with negative unintended consequences.”
“When we talk about guns in this chamber we tend to always talk about and debate murderous illegal activity and we don’t talk enough about the recreational side of gun ownership,” he said. Funke talked about upstate’s competitive shooting teams attached to schools.
“It is just a way that our culture is just a little bit different upstate,” said Funke.
The senator went on to mention 70 high school teams with 1,300 students competing in the state’s clay target championships, a “big competition held at West Point every year.”
Funke said he thinks the new law will effectively “rob a generation of young people having opportunity to learn how to intelligently, safely and properly handle firearms when they would otherwise not have the mentors or the financial means to do that.”
“Not everyone can join a gun club,” he said.
Funke said “competitions and practice sessions that happen every day with shotguns and rifles and with thousands of students participating across New York are important.” He mentioned New York residents on the USA national shooting team and Olympic teams from the state as well as Olympic medalists in shooting sports including Jason Turner of Rochester. Turner won bronze in Men’s Air Pistol at the 2008 Olympic Games and went on to become a National Assistant Coach of the program since he stepped back from international competition in 2015.
“In competitive high school rifle shooting, 19 of the last 31 individual state champions have been female,” added Funke. “Thanks to this bill the opportunity for future youth to be all they can be is being ripped from them — the chance to be part of a team building lifelong relationships and character while chasing the height of athletic achievement…”
Many organizations promoting sensible gun control legislation celebrated the new measures that easily passed the Democrat-controlled Legislature. The measures include one that would prohibit teachers and other school employees from carrying firearms on school grounds.
Also included is a measure that authorizes the removal of guns from the home of a person who has been deemed a risk to themselves or to others. Under the "red flag" bill, a court could determine if firearms should be taken away from someone considered dangerous or mentally ill.
Other approved legislation included a bill to extend the waiting period from three days to 30 days after an inconclusive background check before a gun can be purchased.