RESOLUTION NO. 34
TITLE: OPPOSITION TO THE NY SAFE ACT 0F 2013
WHEREAS, the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States states: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed; and
WHEREAS, the lawful ownership of firearms is, and has been, a valued tradition in Delaware County, and the rights protected by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution are exercised by many of our residents; and
WHEREAS, gun bans, registration, and licensing of firearms and their owners has had little or no effect in such urban areas such as New York City, California, Chicago and Washington, D.C. and has not prevented violent criminals from obtaining firearms illegally and committing crimes; and
WHEREAS, the restriction of firearms purchases by law-abiding citizens will create a black market in illegal firearms and incur further governmental costs to enforce such restriction; and
WHEREAS, the people of Delaware County derive economic and environmental benefits from all safe forms of recreation involving firearms, including, but not limited to, hunting and target shooting while utilizing all types of firearms available under the Constitution of the United States; and
WHEREAS, members of the Delaware County Board of Supervisors, being elected to represent the people of Delaware County, are duly sworn by their oath of office to uphold the Constitution of the United States; and
WHEREAS, members of the New York State Assembly and the New York State Senate, being elected by the people of New York State, are duly sworn by their oath of office to uphold the Constitution of the United States; and
WHEREAS, the enactment of the NY SAFE Act (Chapter 1 of the Laws of 2013) has engendered significant controversy over both the process by which it was enacted and certain provisions contained within it; and
WHEREAS, it is our understanding that many State Legislators had less than an hour to read the legislation, which contained approximately twenty-five thousand words, before being forced to vote on it; and
WHEREAS, having reviewed the legislation and time constraints, it is our conclusion that there is no possible way any individual could have read the entire bill and understood its full implications prior to voting on it; and
WHEREAS, our State Legislators most certainly could not have had the time to request, and receive, the input of their constituents regarding this matter; and
WHEREAS, seeking and considering such public input is a standard to which we hold ourselves in the Delaware County Board of Supervisors; and
WHEREAS, this legislation has 60 sections, of which only three take effect
WHEREAS, in our opinion, there was no reason for the Governor to use a message of necessity to bring this bill to vote immediately and bypass the three-day maturing process for all legislation; and
WHEREAS, the mishandling of the process in crafting the NY SAFE Act resulted in complex policy changes, many of which have been left up to interpretation, and are confusing even to the State Legislators who voted on them, and the law enforcement officials who are required to enforce and explain them; and
WHEREAS, law-abiding gun owners are required to verify ownership of certain types of firearms every five years, in addition to registering them on their permits, which now also must be renewed every five years, does not increase the safety of the public and is unnecessarily burdensome to the residents of New York State; and
WHEREAS, there will be a significant negative financial impact due to the
approximately 14,000 Delaware County permits that will have to be renewed requiring additional manpower and computer systems and is another un-funded mandate; and
WHEREAS, this legislation prohibits the sale of firearm magazines with a capacity larger than seven rounds; and
WHEREAS, those firearm magazines with a capacity larger than seven rounds, which are authorized to be retained by existing owners, may only be loaded with seven rounds and eventually must be permanently altered to only accept seven rounds or be disposed of, thus constituting a seizure of legally-owned personal property with no provision for compensation; and
WHEREAS, few or no low capacity (7 rounds or less) magazines currently exist for many of the firearms commonly possessed by law-abiding residents of New York State; and
WHEREAS, Governor Cuomo has proposed spending $36 million dollars in his 2013-2014 Executive budget for the implementation of the NY SAFE Act at a time when New York State residents are crying out for tax relief; and
WHEREAS, Delaware County Sheriff Thomas E. Mills has said that he “fully
understands his constitutional obligations and the concerns of his citizens” and further states “under this new legislation, if called upon to go door to door to confiscate newly classified assault weapons, will not do so”; and
WHEREAS, Delaware County Sheriff Thomas E. Mills along with Undersheriff Craig DuMond are asking for the Delaware County Board of Supervisors to support them as well as the NYS Sheriffs’ Association in opposition to Governor Cuomo’s NY SAFE Act; and
WHEREAS, while there are some areas of the legislation that the Delaware County Board of Supervisors finds encouraging, such as addressing glaring shortcomings in the mental health system, the strengthening of Kendra’s Law and Mark’s Law, as well as privacy protections for certain pistol permit holders, by-and-large, we find the legislation does little more than negatively impact lawful gun ownership as well as creates unfunded mandates particularly for County Mental Health Directors; and
WHEREAS, this legislation fails to offer any meaningful solutions to gun violence and places increased burdens where they do not belong, squarely on the backs of law-abiding citizens; and
WHEREAS, this legislation effectively turns countless New York State law-abiding gun owners into criminals; and
WHEREAS, the manner in which this legislation was brought forward for vote in the State Legislature is deeply disturbing to the Delaware County Board of Supervisors;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Delaware County Board of
Supervisors does hereby oppose, and request the repeal of, any legislation, including the sections within the NY SAFE Act (Chapter 1 of the Laws of 2013), which infringe upon the right of the people to keep and bear arms; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Delaware County Board of Supervisors
considers such laws to be unconstitutional and beyond lawful legislative authority granted to our State representatives; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Delaware County Board of Supervisors
strongly encourages members of the New York State Legislature to hold public hearings to address the issue of gun violence in a way that will produce meaningful results; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Delaware County Board of Supervisors
requests the members of the New York State Senate and Assembly who represent all, or part of, Delaware County to reply, in writing, with their views on, and actions taken, in support of, or opposition to, the NY SAFE Act; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that a copy of this resolution be sent to President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senator Charles Schumer, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Congressman Chris Gibson, New York State Majority Coalition President and Leader Dean Skelos, IDC Coalition Leader Jeffrey Klein, New York State Senators John J. Bonacic, James Seward, and Thomas W. Libous, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, New York State Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, New York State Assemblymembers Clifford Crouch, Claudia Tenney, and Peter Lopez.
The resolution was seconded by Mr. Bower and Mr. Spaccaforno.
Ms. Miller stated that she felt the resolution as presented was very lengthy and may contain some inaccuracies as the NY SAFE Act of 2013 continues to evolve. In addition, she felt the language could be tighter and more specific to the values of Delaware County. She suggested the resolution be tabled at this time to present a resolution she could support at the next Board of Supervisors’ meeting.
Mr. Bracci agreed the resolution should be condensed adding that the Town of Delhi recently adopted a much shorter resolution on this issue.
Chairman Eisel stated that the resolution attempts to address several issues. The resolution was developed in consultation with the Delaware County Sheriff, and with consideration of similar resolutions received from other counties.
Mr. Bracci referenced a county resolution approved in 2003 that speaks to the possession of firearms on county property. In light of the NY SAFE Act, he feels that the resolution should be reviewed for possible rewording. He noted that he will follow up with the Legislative Committee on the matter.
Ms. Miller felt supporting the New York State Sheriffs’ Association may send a conflicting message based on the points they are in agreement with and those they are not. She further stated that the Board needs to take its time and get the resolution accurate so as not to make the same mistake Albany did by moving too hastily.
Mrs. Capouya stated that she does not like the NY SAFE Act nor does she like the way it was passed. She also felt the resolution was too lengthy and pointed out the language in the resolution referencing the Second Amendment was not accurate. She would like the first paragraph of the resolution to quote the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
Mrs. Donofrio suggested that if the resolution is too lengthy as presented, consideration should be given to simply stating that the Delaware County Board of Supervisors are opposed to the NY SAFE Act of 2013 in a resolution.
Mr. Bracci noted that the resolution ignores the dimension of mental health. He called upon Director of Mental Health Cindy Heaney to discuss consequences in the area of mental health that will amount to unfunded mandates as the county attempts to meet the reporting requirements created by the NY SAFE Act.
Chairman Eisel stated that he would like to move forward with the resolution in order to be heard along with the other counties weighing in on this issue. He felt that although there may be inaccuracies in the resolution the Governor would get the gist of what was being said.
Mr. Hynes suggested that if the Board is in opposition to the way in which the NY SAFE Act of 2013 was passed in Albany why not oppose that rather than attempt to address the NY SAFE Act specifically.
Ms. Miller suggested that rather than conform the resolution to other submissions she would like to see Delaware County stand behind its belief in home rule and write a resolution that speaks to Delaware County’s values and way of life.
Mr. Triolo stated that opposing the NY SAFE Act in its entirety may be unrealistic as the majority of citizens would agree that violence in our society is increasing and there is a need to have a change in our laws. He opined the resolution should acknowledge that Delaware County realizes and understands the need for legislation and offer constructive alternatives.
Chairman Eisel expressed concern that the resolution could not be rewritten to satisfy everyone.
Mr. Axtell noted that the Assembly and Senate members who voted against the NY SAFE Act will see that we are in opposition to the Act through this resolution. He believes that they will address the shortcoming being discussed here.
Mr. Donnelly expressed concern over the haste in which the NY SAFE Act was passed and the unfunded mandates it will create. Unfortunately, in this economically unstable time, mental health issues are becoming more prevalent but there will be other areas of county government that will also be affected by this. He did not feel the the NY SAFE Act of 2013 offers any meaningfully solutions to the problem of gun violence in our society.
Mr. Bracci noted that he has heard talk that relates the NY SAFE Act to a form of racial profiling. The Act is written in such a way that it does not address mental health concerns, but may unintentionally create situations for people who are in the mental health system. He advised that the Community Services Board has passed a resolution addressing this concern.
Chairman Eisel stated that he would like to vote on this resolution today as a quick response to the Governor is imperative. He suggested a recess to address the concerns raised in the resolution. He hoped that the the Legislative and Public Safety Committees could meet and agree to a rewrite that could be voted upon when the meeting reconvened. He invited Sheriff Mills and Ms. Heaney to participate in the discussion. All were in agreement.
Ms. Capouya stated that she is not against some regulation but felt this is a bad law which was badly passed. She further stated that the resolution, in her opinion, was still too long.
Mr. Valente felt the NY SAFE Act sets a bad precedent as the government is now reneging on a contract it entered into with law abiding citizens applying for weapon permits. This serves only to remove trust by the people for government.
Mr. Spaccaforno stated that in his opinion the NY SAFE Act is an infringement on the rights of the people. He did not believe the Act could be effectively enforced and that attempting to do so would create unfunded mandates for many areas of county government. He shared that gun manufacturers and ammunition suppliers, he believed sixty-eight different companies, were refusing to do business in New York as a result of this Act.
Ms. Miller advised that of the 19.5 million people that live in New York State 500,000 live in rural counties. This legislation is written for the safety and protection of the majority. Legislation cannot address the balance between understanding and respecting the rural lifestyle and the need to protect those living in densely populated areas. Her personal view is that homes and communities are safer with fewer guns in them; however Delaware County is a rural community that understands and has a deep appreciation for its weapons.
The resolution was adopted by the following vote: Ayes 3525, Noes 375 (Miller), Absent 899 (Rowe, McCarthy).