No Lansing Response TO SAFE Act

Apr052013

No Lansing Response TO SAFE Act

 

townhall_120The Lansing Town Board did not come to a decision on whether it will pass a resolution in response to the New York State Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013 (SAFE Act) after mulling its options Wednesday.  Though some board members supported the idea of it, all agreed the process of passing it was flawed.  With sewer, a town center, the comprehensive plan, sign law, a moratorium extension on heavy industry and fracking and other issues on the table Supervisor Kathy Miller questioned whether the council should spend time on a resolution.

"I'll get up on my soap box any day of the week when it comes to the second amendment," said Town Attorney Guy Krogh.  "But I'm not sure this is the business of the Town of Lansing."
That more or less summed up the board's take.  Each board member expressed an opinion about the law.  All were cynical about the Town's prospects of effecting any positive change in Albany.

"I think there should be a safety law," said Councilwoman Katrina Binkewicz.  "I do have a problem because it's a very flawed law.  Feedback from law enforcement and feedback from the public -- that due diligence was not done.  I don't want to vote for repeal.  I would vote for suspending pending due diligence."

Councilman Ed LaVigne argued that the town should send some message back to Albany challenging state legislators to respect procedures for passing laws.  He said the SAFE Act was developed in secret, then rammed through the legislature without any opportunity for public comment or adequate time for legislators to understand the law before being forced to vote on it.

"The process is a far bigger problem than guns or no guns," said Councilman Ed LaVigne.   "If you condone the fact that they can just do this and then go back and fill it in... we have this already with the affordable health care act.  This act was passed without the three day waiting period.  Senator Nozzolio had twenty minutes to read it and vote on it.  Send the message back to Albany that you need to do this right, whatever this is.  It's the process."

On Tuesday the Tompkins County Legislature passed a resolution in support of the law, becoming one of the few counties in the state that has not come out against the law.  Critics of the law charge that is was a knee-jerk reaction to the horrific shootings in Newtown, CT, rushed through the state legislature without consulting mental health experts or law enforcement representatives.

The Lansing board kept coming back to the question of whether it is the business of the town council to pass resolutions on issues that are under a different government's jurisdiction, that would probably have no impact, and that would distract elected town officials from the business of the town.

"I went to last Tuesday's meeting of the County Legislature and to the public safety committee meeting," said Councilwoman Ruth Hopkins.  "There was a tremendous amount of hours going into this.  It's very contentious.  I don't know why we would take this on."

While LaVigne favored a resolution because he said it would have more weight, other board members pondered whether it would be more appropriate to send personal letters to state and county representatives.

"This is a divided issue," said Councilman Robert Cree.  "If we take a stand we're going to tick off the rest of the other half of the people.  At the end of the day we all have our own opinions and it's not going to change a thing."

Krogh was also cynical about any impact a town resolution might have.

"The state has a way of taking expenses and handing them downhill to towns and counties," he said.  "Anything you say is bound to be misinterpreted.  It's not Town business."

After an hour of debate the board was unable to decide on whether or not to pass a resolution.

v9i13

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