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Franklin County Legislature voices Second Amendment concerns

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MALONE - The NY SAFE Act has officially garnered disapproval from the Franklin County Legislature.

The legislature unanimously passed a resolution Thursday voicing its opposition to portions of the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act of 2013 that local lawmakers say “infringe upon the right of the people to keep and bear arms” in the the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment.

It adds that the state Legislature should have hearings on the matter to allow for public input, and copies of the resolution will be sent on to state and federal officials including President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, state Assemblywoman Janet Duprey, R-115th District, and state Sen. Betty Little, R-45th District.

The resolution states that the SAFE Act limits citizens’ rights to own guns, is seen as “extremely controversial” by New York residents and “effectively turns countless New York state law-abiding gun owners into criminals.”

However, the resolution does not discuss what specific aspects of the SAFE Act the legislators are opposed to, which they said could come through amendments at a later date.

“I definitely ... want more added to this,” said Legislator Gordon Crossman, D-Malone.

While some of the legislators considered holding off on passing the resolution, others believed it was key to take action during the meeting.

“If you want to go through and put specific things in there, that’s fine, but we need to come out with something,” said Board Chairman Billy Jones, D-Chateaugay.

Other legislators agreed, noting that they have been receiving phone calls and email from constituents wondering why the board hadn’t taken action yet.

“I think they want us to make a decision,” said Legislator Tim Smith, D-Fort Covington.

Several people in the audience also voiced their opinions on the act.

“This is a constitutional issue,” said Ed Martin of Franklin, a former corrections officer. “It was shoved down our throats by the people in power in Albany. ... There’s a lot of us that feel the same why I do.”

Legislators had discussed their opposition to the act during a work session before the call to order at their last regular meeting on Feb. 21, at which time they met with several county officials, including Sheriff Kevin Mulverhill and Deputy County Clerk Kip Cassavaw.

Mr. Cassavaw said that since the act was implemented it has caused a great deal more work for his office since more people are changing what’s on their pistol permits or applying for a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) exemption so their names won’t appear on a list of gun holders accessible to the public.

Mr. Mulverhill presented the legislators with a copy of the New York State Sheriffs’ Association, Inc.’s response to the act, which was sent to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office on Jan. 24.

The sheriffs supported six aspects of the act, including the FOIL exemption requests and how anyone who kills an emergency responder will be charged with first-degree or aggravated murder and won’t be eligible for parole, a more severe penalties than in the past.

Eight aspects of the act the sheriffs didn’t agree with include the ban on assault weapons, the mandatory pistol permit renewal every five years, and how assault weapons already owned must be re-registered every five years as well.

While an official resolution has been passed, the county is scheduled to hold two public forums on the act, one each in the northern and southern ends of the county.

The first is scheduled for 6 to 9 p.m. March 14 at the Malone Middle School.

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