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Gun owners get fired up at SAFE Act forum

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MALONE - Though not advertised as a rally against the New York Secure Ammunitions and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act, all of the comments at Thursday’s Franklin County-sponsored forum on the new gun legislation were very much against it.

Approximately 80 people showed up to at forum held in the Malone Middle School auditorium.

Following several presentations from county officials and others, many in attendance voiced their opinions against the act.

“Boycott your fishing and hunting licenses,” said one attendee.

“Where’s the DA (district attorney)?” asked another. “I want him here tonight.”

Another attendee said that the counties in New York City are the only ones not opposed to the act and that area should become its own state.

“That will get rid of 90 percent of the problem,” he said.

Another urged everyone to join the National Rifle Association (NRA).

Others had concerns about the law and a variety of questions, many of which law enforcement and county officials were unable to answer.

The evening started out with county Sheriff Kevin Mulverhill using a slide show presentation to explain the main provisions of the SAFE Act, which was passed on Jan. 15.

“This is meant to be an educational presentation,” he said.

Mr. Mulverhill described how the SAFE Act reclassifies what is considered an assault weapon, which for many weapons means having one military-like feature. He added that any existing assault weapons must be registered.

Other provisions of the law Mr. Mulverhill mentioned include a requirement that pistol permits and assault weapon registrations must be renewed every five years, gun holders can apply for a freedom of information law (FOIL) exemption to keep their identities private, and that magazines can only have a capacity of seven rounds, not 10 as in the past.

Mr. Mulverhill noted that the New York Sheriff’s Association met shortly after the SAFE Act passed.

“There wasn’t a sheriff in the room that didn’t oppose the SAFE Act or at least parts of it,” he said.

Mr. Mulverhill added that the act was passed in response to the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

“If we believed the act could prevent an incident from happening in New York, we would not be here,” he said.

Franklin County Board of Legislators Chairman Billy Jones, D-Chateaugay, provided the county’ legislature’s view on the law.

“From the county perspective, we’ve come out and opposed it,” he said, adding that many county residents contacted the legislature about the act.

“We did pass a very good resolution last Thursday,” Mr. Jones said of the resolution the legislators passed against the act. “At the end of the day, we decided to oppose the whole thing.”

According to the county’s resolution, the legislators are against any portions of the act that “infringe upon the right of the people to keep and bear arms,” as enumerated in the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Another presentation was given by Deputy Franklin County Clerk Kip Cassavaw, who described how the work load for his office has increased substantially since the act was passed due to people changing their pistol permits or applying for FOIL exemptions.

Suzanne Goolden, director of the county’s community services/mental health department, also spoke about the provision of the law that requires mental health professionals to report any individuals who could be in danger of harming themselves or others to their director of community services, who would then evaluate the individual and report it to the New York state Division of Criminal Justice Services. She said this could be a detriment.

“We are concerned that this will prevent people from seeking the help they need,” she said.

Despite the comments and concerns of the crowd at the end of the forum, Mr. Mulverhill said he believed that the act will “correct itself.”

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