LOCKPORT – The Niagara County Legislature voted unanimously Tuesday to demand the repeal of the gun control bill that was signed into law last month by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.
The vote came after a late afternoon rally of the law’s opponents in the County Courthouse’s parking lot. Many of the rally’s participants also crowded the Legislature Chambers in order to further declare their position.
Edward D. Pettit of Newfane called the SAFE Act, which Cuomo signed Jan. 15 after a high-speed legislative process, “a blitzkrieg attack on our individual rights.”
Majority Leader Richard E. Updegrove, R-Lockport, called it “an obscene aberration of the legislative process.”
“It shreds the constitutional rights of our citizens,” said Legislator John Syracuse, R-Newfane. “Here in Niagara County, we’ve always preferred our Constitution as written.”
“Lawmakers must respect citizens for citizens to respect the law. … We were cheated by the passage of this law and I for one will not comply,” Pettit said to loud applause from the crowd of about 75.
Retired Niagara County Sheriff’s Deputy Patrick Needle said, “Jan. 14, I went to bed as a law-abiding citizen, and Jan. 15, because of some deal done in a back room in Albany, I woke up as a criminal because my [gun] magazine has more than eight rounds” of ammunition.
Syracuse said Niagara County has 28,000 pistol permit holders, or about one-fifth of the county’s adult population.
“The right to bear arms is the foundation of being the land of the free,” said Legislator David E. Godfrey, R-Wilson. “The problem is not the guns, it is the shooter.”
“You’re not only disarming the people [with the SAFE Act],” argued Rebekah Kallin of Niagara Falls, “you are making it easier for criminals to attack and harm the people whom we love.”
“The law creates a new class of criminal that didn’t exist before,” said Mike O’Flaherty of Newfane. “There could come a point where I could be deemed a danger because I own a gun.”
The Legislature also passed Republican-sponsored resolutions demanding that the Assembly and State Senate reject Cuomo’s proposal to make pistol permits renewable every five years, and calling for the exemption of personal information about permit holders from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Law.