The ink has barely dried on the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013 and county lawmakers are already worried about the possible impacts.
“It’s ill conceived, really. A man used diesel fuel and fertilizer to blow up a building in Oklahoma City. A woman let her car roll into a lake, drowning her children inside. It’s not just guns. There’s something the matter with society,” said Herkimer County Legislator Leonard Hendrix, R - District 6.
The legislature Wednesday evening passed a resolution in opposition to the SAFE Act because it “fundamentally alters or bridges the right to keep and bear arms without addressing the problems of gun violence.” The resolution calls on the state Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to “set aside and annul this ill conceived and poorly drafted statue which bridges the rights of law abiding citizens ...”
“Guns aren’t the problem, society is,” said Legislator Frederick Shaw, R - District 16. “It seems ever since God was removed from the courthouse and schoolhouse society has been subjected to a setback. The 10 Commandments teach right from wrong. People need to learn right from wrong again, because it’s impossible to pass a law to prevent everything. Society needs to change.”
Passed by the state Legislature and signed into law by the governor last week, the act tightens a ban on assault-style rifles, calls for background checks on ammunition purchases, outlaws large-capacity magazines and tries to keep guns out of the hands of mentally ill people deemed a threat.
Considered to be the toughest gun control law in the nation, the legislation was pushed through in light of the tragedies at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and in Webster.
“I understand the passion and emotions running throughout the Valley as a result of some uncertainty over how Remington Arms’ ownership will react to the SAFE Act,” said Legislator Gary Hartman, D - District 1. “... I would be all for a resolution supporting the Arms. However, this resolution goes beyond that. I do not know if Remington Arms will change their employment strategy due to the passage of the SAFE Act. I do not know whether the law will result in job losses at Remington Arms. I recognize the value of the Arms to Herkimer County and the region. ... As someone who has previously been laid off during difficult economic times, I know how it feels. Nevertheless, if you lose your job, there is always a chance to get another job. ... However, if you lose your life to a bullet or bullets at age 6 or 60 it’s over. There is no chance to get your life back.”
Hartman cast the sole no vote against the resolution that asserts the SAFE Act will have a detrimental effect on hunters, sportsmen and legal gun owners, as well as Remington Arms.
Page 2 of 2 - “In spite of my support for the employees of Remington Arms, I cannot support a resolution that assaults the SAFE ACT,” said Hartman, adding he will continue to reach out to officials in Albany and Washington in an effort to preserve the more than 1,200 jobs at Remington.
The resolution also asserts the legislation creates an environment in the state which is hostile to gun manufacture and ownership, and emphasizes the county’s support of the local gun manufacturer.
Legislator Helen Rose, D - District 2, said she is concerned the SAFE Act could jeopardize the livelihood of hard-working people who for generations have gone to work each day at the Ilion plant.
“These people deserved to have their voices heard by the state Legislature and the governor,” she said as she referenced the governor’s decision to waive the traditional three-day vetting period. “I believe greater research needed to be done before the act was signed into law.”
A handful of legislators Wednesday evening emphasized their yes votes with “absolutely” or “definitely,” including Legislature Chairman Vincent Bono, R - District 11.
“Herkimer County is synonymous with Remington Arms. Remington is a major employer and a manufacturing success story. The Herkimer County Legislature has been proud to support the company in the past and will continue to support the company now and in the future,” he said. “Herkimer County is Remington country, and we are proud of that fact.”