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Johnsburg board considers condemning Cuomo's SAFE Act

Johnsburg Town Hall

Johnsburg Town Hall Photo by Andy Flynn.

— The New York SAFE Act wasn’t on the Johnsburg Town Board agenda for the Feb. 19 regular board meeting, but it only took a question from a resident in the audience to move the issue to the forefront of the Board’s consciousness.

During privilege of the floor near the end of the meeting, resident Bob Nessle asked Supervisor Ron Vanselow to explain his vote in favor of a recent Warren County Board of Supervisors resolution condemning the manner in which the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013, commonly known as the SAFE Act, was enacted and disapproving of the legislation itself.

In adopting the law, Gov. Andrew Cuomo used a legislative shortcut called a “message of necessity” to allow legislators to vote on the law immediately, rather than providing time to allow legislators to consider the bill and gather input from constituents. The state Senate approved the bill almost immediately after it was introduced and the state Assembly approved it the next day.

Vanselow said he didn’t believe government should operate that way and therefore he couldn’t support the governor in the manner in which he chose to push the law through the legislature.

The supervisor added that he agrees with some aspects of the bill but he disagrees with others. As an example, Vanselow said the clause in the law banning gun clips that hold more than seven rounds would mean that his wife’s 22-caliber rifle that she uses to “plink around with” is now classified as an assault rifle because its clip holds 10 rounds.

“It’s not an assault rifle,” Vanselow said, adding that because of clauses like that, the bill is just a poorly crafted bill and he couldn’t support it.

After Vanselow provided the reasoning for his vote, Councilman Peter Olesheski suggested that the Town Board consider adopting a similar resolution condemning the governor’s use of a message of necessity and condemning the content of the bill. Olesheski reasoned that a majority of Johnsburg residents would appreciate knowing that their Town Board opposed the SAFE Act and the manner in which it was passed.

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