Many unhappy with gun-control law

The toughest-in-the-nation gun-control bill signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo was applauded by some local Democrats, but many more people in conservative-leaning Fulton County expressed outrage about the law.

Fulton County Sheriff Thomas Lorey said he doesn’t see the need for more gun control.

“I am appalled,” Lorey said. “The Legislature has back-doored the American people and walked all over the Constitution of the United States.”

Lorey said the state should enforce existing laws instead of adding more gun-registration rules, which will put an additional burden on law enforcement.

“The provision that is going to require people to renew their pistol permit every five years, as far as I’m concerned, that is only a money-grabbing thing to allow the state to get more money,” Lorey said.

He said the charge to get a pistol permit is about $200, and the county will receive only about $10 of that, while the rest will go to the state. He said the cost of the county’s permit-administration work will far exceed the money provided to the county.

“The work that goes into it is quite significant, and $10 is not nearly enough,” Lorey said. “We have to do background checks, fingerprinting and so forth. The state is taking money away and forcing another unfunded mandate on the people.”

Lorey said he supports the safe storage of guns. The new law makes the unsafe storage of firearms a misdemeanor and requires owners to report the theft of their guns within 24 hours.

“Some parts of the [law regarding] gun storage are probably good because it is common sense to keep your guns and trigger mechanism locked so it doesn’t get in the wrong hands,” Lorey said.

He said he supports harsher punishment for gun offenses and injuring first responders.

However, he said, the additional gun-registration rules in the law will be problematic.

“The registration of one type of weapon is only going to lead to the registration of all types of weapons,” Lorey said. “It’s just another way for the government to grab your money and know what you have.”

He said he has concerns about the law’s new limit on magazine capacity, which bans clips holding more than seven bullets. The national standard maximum clip size is 10 rounds.

“If you bought a pistol last week that holds 10 rounds, they are automatically making you a criminal with the passage of this law,” Lorey said.

Lorey said he expects many gun owners will hang on to these 10-round magazines and take the chance, but he warned they will face charges if they are found in their possession.

At Frank’s Gun & Tackle Shop in Mayfield on Tuesday, several customers, who declined to give their names, said the firearms they were picking up had 10-round magazines – magazines that are illegal as of today.

The store was full of customers seeking to purchase guns and ammo Tuesday, before the law went into effect. Store owner John Havlick said he had more than 80 customers come into the store by midafternoon looking to buy guns. Many customers Tuesday said they worried the new law infringes on their Second Amendment rights. They noted many pistols come from the factory with a stock magazine larger than seven rounds.

“This law is an obstruction that will only harass the average gun owners,” customer Dave DeMarco said. “This will not prevent crime at all.”

Another customer, Josh Mendetta of Gloversville, said he was picking up two handguns that he recently purchased.

“How is it that state law supersedes federal law?” he asked. “We are having our rights infringed upon right now. Next they are coming after semiautomatics – you know it is coming.”

Gloversville Police Chief Donald VanDeusen said he thinks harsher for punishment for gun offenders was necessary, but he also expressed concerns about lower magazine-capacity limits.

“I think the provision set forth to protect the first responders is great,” VanDeusen said. “I also think the provision allowing therapists to report patients that have made threats is good, and I have no issues with that.”

However, he said he has concerns with the requirement that owners must register firearms every five years.

“I don’t know how, financially, you are going to be able to carry that out or logistically carry that out,” VanDeusen said. “It is going to be really difficult to carry out some of these provisions.”

He said the seven-round clip limit crosses the line because most law-abiding citizens who own handguns will now be accused of breaking the law.

Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, voted in favor of the law Tuesday. The assemblyman, whose district includes Montgomery County, said the law is meant to keep weapons out of the hands of criminals and those who should not possess them.

“These are common-sense measures that can help keep our children and families safe,” Santabarbara said in a news release. “This is a balanced approach to combating gun violence while respecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners.”

Gloversville 1st Ward Councilwoman Robin Wentworth, also a Democrat, said she supported some gun restrictions but had concerns with the law that was rushed through the Legislature.

“I believe something needed to be put on the table for discussion regarding reasonable restrictions of the Second Amendment,” Wentworth said. “I would have liked to have seen more meaningful and open discussion of the issue and do not completely support the speed at which this took place. Although there has been a lot of blame placed only upon the governor, we need to remember that this legislation was voted on and passed by a majority of legislators, not by one person.”

Wentworth said her “biggest frustration locally over the past 24 hours is the misrepresentation by a local leader about what is actually in this legislation,” apparently referring to Republican Mayor Dayton King’s public statement Tuesday. The mayor objected to the new law and said Gloversville police officers “will not be coming to your door demanding your guns … According to this new bill, that’s what the governor will expect.”

Wentworth challenged that statement: “This is an absolute misrepresentation of what is in the legislation, and in my opinion, it is irresponsible, as that is not stated in the legislation,” Wentworth said.