RESOLVED, that the proposed Resolution in Support of the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution be brought to the table for discussion.
Nay: 1 Idleman
Councilman Patrick asked that the proposed Resolution be read aloud. Supervisor Idleman did so.
RESOLUTION NO. 31‐13
Resolution in Support of the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution
Resolution by Councilman Jeffords
Seconded by Councilman Whitehouse
WHEREAS, the right of the people to keep and bear arms is guaranteed as an individual right under the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution and under the Constitution of the State of New York; and
WHEREAS, the right of the people to keep and bear arms for the defense of Life, Liberty and Property is regarded as an inalienable right by the people of the Town of Greenwich, New York; and
WHEREAS, the people of the Town of Greenwich derive economic and recreational benefit from all safe forms of firearms activity, including hunting and shooting, using all types of firearms allowable under the United States and State of New York Constitutions; and
WHEREAS, the Town of Greenwich Board, being elected to represent the people of the Town of Greenwich and being sworn by their Oath of Office to uphold the United States and State of New York Constitutions; and
WHEREAS, certain legislation passed by the New York State Assembly and Senate infringes on the Constitutional Right to bear arms and would be a ban on the lawful use of certain firearms in the Town of Greenwich; and
WHEREAS, the Town of Greenwich believes that there are many other less restrictive and intrusive means of regulating firearms available other than the rash, confusing and inarticulately drafted recent firearms law that could effectively control, manage and reduce violence in our society, such as mental health reforms, anti‐bullying programs for schools, enforcement of existing laws to the fullest extent possible and proper psychological treatment for those in need; and
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Town of Greenwich in concurrence with our New York State Senator Elizabeth Little and Assemblyman Anthony Jordan hereby opposes the enactment of any legislation that infringes upon the right of the people to keep and bear arms and supports the repeal of the New York Secure Ammunition And Firearms Enforcement Act (NY SAFE act).
Councilman Jeffords stated that he isn’t a hunter; doesn’t own a gun; has never fired a gun; this doesn’t come from any love for firearms because he doesn’t have any but he supports the Constitution of the United States and New York State and he wants to uphold his oath of office which is to support both of those and that’s the reason he brought this forward.
Councilman Patrick asked what effect the SAFE act has on schools. What is it that they can and can’t do?
Ralph Vecchio: This law does nothing to stop someone who is determined to cause injury. No law has ever been prescribed, starting with the Ten Commandments that has ever stopped someone that is determined to commit a crime or do something illegal. There is nothing in this statute that would protect our schools.
Councilman Jeffords: The Albany County District Attorney was asked how many legal weapons he could connect to any of the crimes that he had prosecuted in the last year. He said zero. There were illegal weapons but this isn’t going to stop illegal weapons.
Mike Bittel: If a sign was put up at school that says no weapons allowed, who’s that going to stop? It’s not going to stop the criminal. It’s going to stop law abiding citizens who you want protecting our kids and fellow citizens.
Mark Pepin: We’re capturing the wrong felons. Good people are being brought to the Judge while the other ones run free. These laws will not help our children.
Supervisor Idleman: I’m in the minority and I’ve been here before. There are problems with this law. I have problems with the Message of Necessity and the way it is used. I am amazed at the amount of passion this has brought out in people. My concern is that we don’t have the same amount of compassion for other issues that we face every day as government officials. I am not against legal ownership of guns. I think there is a lot we can do to improve ownership and gun safety in this country. I am not in favor of repealing this law. If we repeal this law nothing will change. I am in favor of making changes. I’m not in the position to make those changes, that’s up to our legislators and that’s the message I’ll take to my Legislator and I know that I speak for a constituency out there. I respect what everyone has to say but I cannot in good conscience support repealing the NYS SAFE act at this point.
Don Perkins Jr: The law is doing nothing more than taking away the rights of law abiding citizens and their rights under the Constitution of the United States.
Mike Bittel: Confused on Supervisor Idleman’s statement about passion. Everyone in this room is passionate about this Town.
Supervisor Idleman: Clarified her statement. The County just went through the process of selling our Public Health and Pleasant Valley. There wasn’t the passion to protect those people and hang on to those facilities. The passion just wasn’t there. Nationwide this has become such a dominant issue and there are so many issues. I wasn’t talking about passion for our Village. We share that. We all share that. On any given day, I could disagree with any one of the other Town Council members. But when we come together around this table we work for the Town. We get the jobs done for the Town. I’m talking about the passion in government. My concern is bringing this to this table. We have every right to stand up for what we believe in. I’m really concerned about us passing this resolution and opening the door to other issues that could very well walk through the door with the same amount of passion. It is an important issue and it’s not that it doesn’t belong here but I don’t think it should be our primary focus.
Mike Bittel: I’m proud that the Board has put this forward to hear us and that most of our Town Board members agree with it and to have a voice this way.
Councilman Jeffords: Not only can we have local passion, we can have passion for our Constitution and we need to support the Constitution. There is a way the Constitution can be changed and it’s not by passing laws like the SAFE act. The reason the SAFE act was passed the way it was, was because the Governor knew that it couldn’t get passed any other way. That’s the passion I have above and beyond the local passion.
Peter Roberson: Why are you against repealing the law as it stands?
Supervisor Idleman: I would rather see our Legislators change the law; take it apart bit by bit and change it. It is crazy that a police officer can’t go onto school grounds with a gun. That’s going to change. The mental health part is going to change. They will change over time. But if this is repealed the issue with guns and violence will get dropped right off the table.
Dan Spigner: There are a couple points to what you are saying. Assemblyman Tony Jordan didn’t even know anything about it but within eight hours it was passed. The law wasn’t given due process. It was three men in a room. Done in the dark of night. That is what I wanted everybody to understand. It’s not that we don’t agree that something needs to be done. More research needs to be done and we are in full agreement with that. To a certain extent this is a ridiculous law that has been passed. It’s somebody that’s looking for a higher office. That’s what we’re here about. We don’t agree with the law the way it was written. It wasn’t given due process.
Don Perkins Jr: The most important thing is that anything that is going to infringe upon our rights or take away our rights has to be done by an amendment to the Constitution and there is a procedure to go through. This room is where the activity starts to go up. As taxpayers we have a right to come here and voice our opinion. We have avenues to take it further but this is our first step. It makes me uncomfortable to see a group this big and this passionate about this item brought before the Town Board which is our starting point. We have to do it this way. If there be any inclination that you wouldn’t want to bring it to the table, and with it being an infringement upon our rights that are guaranteed to us, and not vote for it? I just don’t understand.
Mac McKinley: Help support our 2nd Amendment rights. Our forefathers wanted us to have the right to protect our homes and our country. I urge you to pass this unanimously.
Councilman Whitehouse: This evening I vote with absolute no regard to political parties and any of that. I vote because don’t mess with our 2nd Amendment and don’t mess with our Constitution.
Councilman Perkins: I have fired all kinds of different weapons and I am a gun owner. I am a Board member and I am proud to be an American. I’ll vote for the 2nd Amendment and I’ll vote because I am also a veteran.
Supervisor Idleman: The resolution is to support the repeal of the act thereby protecting the 2nd Amendment. I also believe in protecting the 2nd Amendment. I think the 2nd amendment is protected. I think it will continue to be protected. I don’t think it will ever be taken away from you. One of the terms in the 2nd Amendment is “a well regulated”. There is not one single amendment that is absolute. I would guess the lawyer in the room would agree with me on that. You can’t belong to a church that practices human sacrifice in this country. You can’t yell fire in a crowded theater. The Amendments are very fluid. They are not carved in stone. They are acted on over and over again by the Supreme Court which has protected the 2nd Amendment and I believe the 2nd Amendment should be protected. I do not believe in repealing this particular law at this time. I will vote against this resolution for that reason.
Councilman Perkins: You talked about a “well regulated militia”. If anyone is a handgun owner and has a handgun permit and you have been through the background checks multiple times because you either added a pistol to your pistol permit or you got a revision on your license, the old paper ones failed and fell apart and you got the new credit card looking one. If any of the legal gun owners have gone through that process they are fully aware of what regulations are there. Bob mentioned that the crime rate for legal weapons is near zero in Albany County. Nationally it is probably very close to that too for legal gun ownership. Those are the regulations that are on the books and most everyone in this room has abided by them. To come up with new ones that affect those people who are abiding by the law I think is a disservice to the State of New York.
Councilman Jeffords: Mayor Bloomberg, one of the most liberal people on earth if not the most, today mentioned that he didn’t think this act does anything. It’s the hand gun that he wants to control. Even the other side doesn’t agree with themselves.
The foregoing Resolution, offered by Councilman Robert Jeffords, and seconded by Councilman Eric Whitehouse, was duly put to a roll call vote as follows:
Councilman Whitehouse VOTING Aye
Councilman Perkins VOTING Aye
Councilman Patrick VOTING Aye
Councilman Jeffords VOTING Aye
Supervisor Idleman VOTING Nay