Lansing Board to Consider Response to SAFE Act

Mar292013
guns1Local news has focused on the Tompkins County Legislature's consideration of a resolution to recommend Albany repeal the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013.  More than 200 citizens turned out with 59 speaking.  37 urged repeal of the law.  Last week Lansing residents told the Town Board what they think about the SAFE Act, with a half dozen speakers split half and half for or against. 

The Board considered two potential resolutions.  One urges repeal of the SAFE Act, while the other asks Governor Cuomo and the New York State Legislature to reconsider the law.  There was some confusion among citizens about why there were two resolutions, but Supervisor Kathy Miller explained that the board is considering options.

"The idea was to expose everybody on the board to what the County is doing," she said.  "There wasn't just one resolution there.  It wasn't that wer were going to accept one resolution or the other.  We haven't made a decision yet."

Resident Andy Aasen started comments with his recounting of the County meeting, which he said was so full that many people had to listen to the proceedings remotely from the County courtroom.  He said a group of citizens have formed an organization called the Tompkins Liberty Coalition to lobby to repeal the SAFE Act.

"The vast majority of people who showed up were in favor of repealing the New york SAFE Act," Aasen said.  "This law was written under the cover of darkness without any input from the law abiding citizens of New York.  The process as well as the content of this bill, now the law, warrant that it be repealed."

Resident Marcy Rosencrantz said she favors the SAFE Act and urged the board to consider the more nuanced resolution.

"I would like to encourage you not to pass a resolution that throws the baby out with the bathwater.  By throwing (all the provisions) out we have to start all over again.  That's just a dumb idea, so I urge you to vote against the resolution opposing the New York SAFE Act, and urge you instead to consider the other resolution."

"If you do not repeal this act you condone what Albany did," said Councilman Ed LaVigne.  "You talk about how we keep getting mandates jammed down our throats.  The bottom line is that if you don't push back and say this process is wrong -- you went too fast.  You didn't ask first responders for input.  if we do nothing we condone it.  We need to send a very strong message to Albany: no!  You did wrong.  We as citizens have a responsibility to tell our elected officials,: do you have a backbone and look out for my interests, or do you sit there and say we're just going to pass it on?"

Councilwoman Ruth Hopkins said she wanted more time to consider the resolutions, and suggested discussing it at an upcoming working meeting.  But LaVigne made an impassioned plea to make a clear statement right away against what he said was a flawed law passed by a questionable process.

"The people of Lansing deserve better than a wishy washy (government)," LaVigne said.  "The people of Lansing deserve better than 'I don't know, maybe we should do something, maybe we'll do this, maybe we'll do that...'  No.  I was elected to help the people of Lansing regardless of my personal beliefs."

Councilwoman Katrina Binkewicz argued not only to give the board more time to discuss the resolutions, but to give Lansing citizens more time to weigh in.

"You're objecting to not saying no now, but you are presuming to speak for a constituency," she told LaVigne.  "We have a small amount of people here and groups have been directed to come here because they knew about this.  This was put in not too long ago and a lot of people who have rights should be able to speak to it at this level, at the town level.  We are public servants and we should hear them."

The County Legislature sent the issue to the Public Safety Committee to consider and make a recommendation to the full Legislature.  The Lansing board also tabled its decision.  Miller said the board will discuss the resolutions at its working meeting April 3rd, and will likely vote on a resolution at its regular April meeting on the 17th.

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