'Unprecedented' Crowd Presses Tompkins County Legislature on SAFE Act Repeal; Action Sent to Committee
Four and a half hours and roughly 55 public comments later, the Tompkins County Legislature opted not to take action on a proposed resolution supporting a repeal of the state’s Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act (SAFE) Act. Instead, the resolution will head to the Public Safety Committee for consideration before coming back to the full legislature.
With Legislator Dave McKenna’s resolution supporting a repeal of the SAFE Act on the legislature’s Tuesday agenda, a few hundred residents turned out to urge their legislators to either support or oppose the state's gun-control effort.
Comments in support of a repeal outnumbered pro-SAFE Act constituents by more than 2:1, about 35 in favor of a repeal and roughly 15 who asked the legislature to support the SAFE Act.
Signed into law in January, the SAFE Act is intended to keep guns out of the hands of criminals by banning assault weapons, high-capacity magazines holding more than seven bullets and establishing more stringent background checks on private gun sales. But gun rights advocates say the law infringes on their Second Amendment right to bear arms and largely affects law-abiding citizens. They also take issue with how quickly the law was passed.
“No tinkering will make [the SAFE Act] acceptable,” Frances Weissman told the legislature. “What’s next? Regulating library books? Get real.”
The night’s meeting was expected to draw a crowd, and it did, with one legislator calling the turnout “unprecedented”. Residents anxious to sign up to speak formed a line that began at the second-floor courtroom doors and wrapped down the stairs. With Legislative Chambers filled a half hour before the meeting, an overflow room in the courtroom had well over 200 by 5:30 p.m.
The vote to send the resolution, and other similar ones, back to the five-member Public Safety Committee was 11-3. Voting no were legislators Frank Proto, Brian Robison and McKenna. Legislator Pam Mackesey was absent.
“We need to go through this process” of sending the resolution first to committee, Legislator Nate Shinagawa said. “We will have as much public input on this as possible so we do this the right way.”Posted: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 9:27 pm | Updated: 11:19 am, Wed Mar 20, 2013.
By Louis DiPietro firstname.lastname@example.org @FLCNreporter