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Crowd encourages Massena village board to oppose SAFE Act

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MASSENA - While the Massena village board did not pass a resolution opposing Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s SAFE Act gun control legislation Tuesday night they did receive a copy of a resolution passed by Norwood opposing the bill and may act on a similiar measure when they meet next month.

A crowd of approximately 50 people were in attendance at the meeting, with many members of the public encouraging the board to pass a resolution opposing the law.

Mayor James F. Hidy noted the county legislature has already passed a resolution opposing the bill.

“We have representatives on that board,” Mr. Hidy said. “They speak for the people of Massena.”

While that may be the case, the overwhelming majority of people in attendance at the meeting said they wanted to see the village pass a resolution of its own. When Mr. Hidy asked for a show of hands of people looking for the village to pass a resolution of its own, nearly every hand in the room went up.

“All we’re asking is to have a resolution from each town to oppose the SAFE Act,” said Massena resident Mike Herr. “We want to show the state a common face from every town and county.”

When asked if there was anyone who didn’t want to see the village pass such a resolution, only one hand went up.

Miles E. Mancheste, of Potsdam recently purchased an AK-47, two 30 round magazines and 800 rounds of ammunition to make a point that weapons such as that need more regulation, something that the SAFE Act is trying to accomplish.

“An immediate repeal without anything to back it up would be a mistake,” he said, adding that would lead to a feeding frenzy of people trying to get their hands on such weapons before new legislation was enacted.

“For these kind of weapons to change hands like baseball cards and sporting goods doesn’t make sense to me,” he said.

That being said, Mr. Manchester said he does agree that the governor went about getting the legislation passed in the wrong way.

“All of the criticisms about how the law was imparted I agree with,” he said.

Many of the comments on the law did center around how it was passed in the middle of the night.

“Are we being invaded by aliens, so we need to pass something in the middle of the night? I don’t think so,” said Edward J. Kaneb Jr. “Public comment is important for any democracy to move forward.”

Mr. Kaneb added, “I think the way it was passed was wrong. I think the village board should pass a resolution opposed to it.”

Will Gray of Norwood has been traveling around St. Lawrence County asking municipalities to pass resolutions opposed to the law. He asked for the village board to pass a resolution last month and pledged to be back at their meeting next month to see if they act on the resolution he gave them.

“The SAFE Act is doing nothing, but impacting honest people,” Mr. Gray said, adding at the same time this debate is going on, Mr. Cuomo is trying to pass a women’s rights bill that would make it easier for women to get an abortion.

“He is taking as much input as he can from the women of New York state,” Mr. Gray said, adding that in his opinion its hypocritical of the governor to pass gun control legislation to “save the lives” of children, while at the same time making abortions easier to obtain.

Brad Kershner of Massena said guns aren’t the problem.

“It’s not the guns, it’s the times, it’s the drugs and it’s how children are being raised,” he said. “I’ve had a gun since I was five years old ,and my children have had guns since they were five years old,” he said.

Former Town Supervisor Gary Edwards also offered his take and encouraged the board the pass a resolution opposed to the law.

“Take this opportunity to voice your displeasure,” he said. “Let’s start defending this county instead of trying to knock the country down.”

Mr. Edwards then shared a story about asking children and young adults today if they feel “free.”

“They say, ‘Oh yeah, I feel free,’” he said, adding the response he then gives back. “You’re not as free as I was when I was growing up. We’re losing a right every day and we don’t even know it.”

“I think we’re pretty clear on what’s being said here,” Mr. Hidy said.

Former St. Lawrence County Legislator R. Shawn Gray of Massena shot back, “I think the people are here because they’re upset with your lack of action at the last meeting.”

Mr. Gray also added that at the same time the governor is promoting gun control legislation, he’s trying to close psychiatric centers, something that doesn’t make sense to him.

“What a contradiction,” he said.

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