Local leaders say the gun control law Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law Tuesday will do little to curb gun violence, but its impact on Remington Arms could do a great deal to hurt the village of Ilion and Herkimer County.
“I disagree with it,” said Ilion Mayor John Stephens. “I don’t think it’s going to help anything. The criminals and the mentally unstable are still going to get guns to do what they have to do.”
“No job is worth somebody’s life,” Stephens added during a telephone interview on Wednesday, but he said the new law “is based on emotions rather than research. There’s not one bit of common sense, although the governor used that term a lot when he was talking about it.”
The mayor said he thought Cuomo’s political career had more to do with the quick action than anything else. He pointed out that in his State of the State message, Cuomo talked about promoting economic development upstate and then took action on that would hurt an upstate factory.
“He can’t have his cake and eat it too,” he said.
Stephens said he is a gun owner and has had a pistol permit since 1988, but added, “I’m looking at this as a mayor trying to keep a community thriving.”
He noted Remington is a manufacturer that employs 1,200 plus people.
The state legislature “didn’t do their due diligence,” according to Stephens. “If they wanted to put the proper research in, I could probably support some things, but they didn’t do their due diligence.”
As to how the new law will affect Remington Arms, Stephens said, “We really don’t know.”
He said it has not so far affected work on the village budget.
“We’re working hard like we do every year to provide the same services our residents used to,” he said. “So far this hasn’t really affected it. We’re going to do things with optimism.”
Moved too quickly
County Administrator James Wallace also thought the gun control law moved through the legislature too quickly. “I think we’re very disappointed they moved so fast with something this important,” he said. “I don’t think anybody in the state wants to see some of the things that have been happening, but this seems like a knee jerk reaction. From what I’ve heard the last few days, they’re going after the 99.9 percent of law abiding gun owners in New York state. We’re still filtering through the pages and pages of this law, but so far I don’t see how it would have stopped the things that happened.”
Wallace disagreed with Cuomo’s decision to utilize the “message of necessity,” a move which allowed the bill to be considered for a vote on the floor of each legislative chamber without the normal committee hearings and public input.
Page 2 of 3 - He added while he agreed mental health issues should be dealt with, he is not convinced the law, which requires mental health professionals to report anyone they think might be a danger will have the desired effect. “I also worry about mental health professionals and the protection they’re going to have,” said Wallace.
A community leader
“We all knew something was going to happen, but two wrongs don’t make a right,” said Herkimer County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director John Scarano. “There should have been a cooling off period and they didn’t have that. Certainly we’re all concerned about Newtown, Conn., and the tragedy there, but to affect families here that had no part of that, that is something that should have been talked about.”
He commented, “The way the Chamber looks at it is that Remington Arms has been a legitimate company here for well over 100 years and has produced a legal product that has been enjoyed by people for over 100 years.”
Scarano added in addition to being the county’s largest employer and having a major economic impact on the community through its payroll and taxes, Remington has been a community leader, supporting schools and ball clubs, as well as being a supporter of the Chamber of Commerce.
“They have remained loyal to this area for many years,” he said.
Scarano said he hopes government officials will show the support for Remington that they have in the past. “I hope that will continue for the products they can now go forward with,” he said.
Local officials are not the only ones concerned with the new state law and the process by which it came about.
Sen. Kathy Marchione, R - Saratoga, posted a petition on her website Tuesday morning asking for a repeal of the law and had collected more than 37,000 signatures as of Wednesday afternoon.
“I strongly opposed this legislation that was rushed through both houses of our state Legislature without a single public hearing or the proper time to carefully review the bill,” she said in a statement on her website. “Law-abiding citizens are not the issue! Millions of New Yorkers own firearms and do so safely, responsibly and legally. The real issue, the real threat, is dangerous criminals having guns and the seriously mentally ill obtaining access to guns.”
The National Rifle Association blasted the new state law.
“The Second Amendment and legislative procedure became the sacrificial lamb in New York as Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s quest for headline-grabbing gun control was rammed through the Senate in the dark of night,” according to a statement on the NRA website.
The NRA is now turning its attention to legislation being proposed on the federal level.
Page 3 of 3 - “Throughout its history, the National Rifle Association has led efforts to promote safety and responsible gun ownership. Keeping our children and society safe remains our top priority,” the organization said in a news release. “The NRA will continue to focus on keeping our children safe and securing our schools, fixing our broken mental health system, and prosecuting violent criminals to the fullest extent of the law. We look forward to working with Congress on a bi-partisan basis to find real solutions to protecting America’s most valuable asset — our children. Attacking firearms and ignoring children is not a solution to the crisis we face as a nation. Only honest, law-abiding gun owners will be affected and our children will remain vulnerable to the inevitability of more tragedy.”