|
|
|
The Telegram
  • Despite shootings, Herkimer County remains pro-gun

  • George Varlaro has lived in the village all his life and couldn’t fathom a shooting like the one last month that rocked Herkimer County.

    • email print
  • George Varlaro has lived in the village all his life and couldn’t fathom a shooting like the one last month that rocked Herkimer County.
    “I thought he was going to come around here,” Varlaro, who lives and works off East German Street in Herkimer, said about the shooter.
    “I was going to get him,” he said as he pulled out a shotgun from a closet in his shop, Custom Upholstery by Val.
    Despite 64-year-old Kurt Myers killing four people and seriously injuring two others during a shooting spree in Mohawk and Herkimer on March 13, opinions about gun ownership don’t seem to have changed in Herkimer County.
    Earlier this year, the state passed New York’s Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, which includes a stricter definition of assault weapons and bans magazines that contain more than seven rounds. It also requires those who own weapons classified as assault weapons to register them.
    Varlaro said he owns a Winchester shotgun for protection, and the shooting reaffirmed his opinion on the SAFE Act. He is not a fan.
    “It really confirmed my belief that only a good guy with a gun is going to take down a bad guy with a gun,” he said. “If (the victims) had a weapon, they could’ve put an end to this.”
    These sentiments resonated with many in the area.
    “We’re very pro-gun in Herkimer County, and we’re pro-Second Amendment for the majority,” said county legislative Chairman Vincent Bono. “For the majority, it’s Remington country here.”
    Ilion resident Don Heath, however, said someone being armed would only make things worse.
    “You’re just opening up for more bullets to be shot,” he said. “We’re just starting a war between ourselves.”
    Political opposition
    In mid-January the county Legislature nearly unanimously passed a resolution opposing the SAFE Act.
    Legislator Gary Hartman, D-Herkimer, was the sole “no” vote. He declined to comment for this story.
    Legislator Dennis Korce, R-Mohawk, said the shootings don’t have any bearing on his opinion of the act.
    “It’s still nuts with guns” who are the problem, he said. “Someone who’s severely emotionally strained, or damaged, or whatever, can find and make use of some object that’s deadly and can do this kind of thing.”
    Legislator Helen Rose, D-Herkimer, said her opinion hasn’t changed either.
    “The tragedy of what happen in Herkimer, I don’t think has anything to do with gun control,” she said. “This is not guns, it’s about people.”
    The legislators all said that mental health and background checks should be the focus, not the guns themselves.
    Public reflection
    Page 2 of 2 - Poland resident Ron Quayle said he owns guns for hunting and protection, and doesn’t completely disagree with the SAFE Act.
    “I do agree with one point: background checking,” he said.
    Little Falls resident Jovanna Mueller said she thinks the act is “ridiculous.”
    “I do believe maybe better background checks (would help) to weed people out,” she said. “You’ve got to educate people. Show people how to use it.”
    Heath — who generally supports the SAFE Act — said a stricter definition of an assault weapon is appropriate.
    “Those semi-automatic weapons aren’t needed for regular everyday use,” he said.
    As Varlaro shouldered his shotgun, he reflected on the bullet holes it could create versus those of an assault weapon or pistol.
    “You’re going after the wrong gun,” he said, indicating with his hands that a shotgun would leave a larger hole. “It’s not an accurate weapon, it’s a killer.”
      • calendar