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Owens says jobs are his top priority; citizens air opinions on gun control

U.S. Rep. Bill Owens talks about gun control measures with area citizens at a public forum held Tuesday March 26 in Glens Falls. Owens said job creation and bipartisan cooperation were currently two of his top objectives.

U.S. Rep. Bill Owens talks about gun control measures with area citizens at a public forum held Tuesday March 26 in Glens Falls. Owens said job creation and bipartisan cooperation were currently two of his top objectives. Photo by Thom Randall.

— Owens responded that he was not a state legislator and did not vote for the measure. Owens also said he supported more stringent background checks and stiffer penalties of gun-runners and other provisions of the gun safety legislation proposed by Sen Kirsten Gillibrand. He continued that he believed in preventing criminals and people with mental illnesses from gaining access to guns.

A Salem resident stood up and said he appreciated comprehensive gun control measures.

“I don’t see any reason why we need assault weapons,” he said, citing the Sandy Hook massacre. A citizen from Wilton stood up and said he agreed with controls on weapons, noting that his brother-in-law was shot four times and killed by a gunman.

Citing that the situation was tragic, Owens said legislation was needed to help prevent such incidences.

“Clearly, we need to move in the direction of laws that protect the public,” he said.

Owens noted that one of his top priorities was to curb gridlock in Washington D.C. and work on a bipartisan approach on pressing issues.

Hearing that Owens had been named one of the top 10 moderate legislators in Washington by a national journal, Kevin O’Dell thanked Owens for efforts of bipartisan cooperation.

Debbie Liddle of Queensbury asked about what could be done about a local Veterans’ Administration office taking 600 days to process claims.

Owens said that he’d talked with VA officials, and they were aware of the backlog, and were now working to reduce or eliminate it.

“The VA has an enormous number of cases and a difficult bureaucracy,” he said, adding that he supported not only speeding up service, but decentralizing health clinics so veterans could be treated closer to home.

Owens also said that the so-called legislative “sequester” now pending imposed arbitrary cuts that were harmful, citing manpower reductions in border security.

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