About 30 supporters of gun rights, many of them from the Saugerties Fish and Game Club, attended the regular Town Board meeting March 6 to urge the board to pass a resolution supported by Town Supervisor Kelly Myers opposing the state’s gun control law.
Myers said the resolution was written in response to many requests she has received. “I get a lot of mail about it. I get a lot of drop-ins, a lot of phone calls. This is something people in Saugerties really care about.”
Myers said she initially resisted, “because [the gun law] is not something we can change here in Saugerties. It is a state law. However, people in Saugerties asked this board to make the opinion of our community known in Albany. They asked us to be their voice.”
The resolution will be taken up at a future meeting.
Most speakers favored the resolution.
Bill Schirmer, a member of the Saugerties Fish and Game Club’s board of directors, said his organization has some 500 members and is one of the oldest such clubs in the state. Schirmer said he was speaking on behalf of the club.
He said the SAFE Act is one of the most comprehensive gun control packages in the country. “This was done under cover of darkness, pushed through the Senate very quickly – they had about an hour to review the bill – by invoking a message of necessity that was absolutely unwarranted in the present situation.”
The legislation, he said, was “very ill-defined, lacks any reasonable documentation as to funding the programs that are included within the law and imposes very onerous restrictions on law-abiding gun owners in New York State.”
Schirmer disputed Governor Cuomo’s assertion that the bill would not take away anyone’s guns, saying the requirement for a maximum capacity of seven rounds in a magazine “would amount to a de facto confiscation of many legally owned handguns because they cannot be brought into legal compliance with the new magazine restrictions.”
There are some good things in the law, Schirmer said, such as increased penalties for gun-related crimes.
If they are protesting a state law, why are gun owners at the Town Board meeting? Gun owners “are very angry at not having a voice in government,” Schirmer said. “This is their first means of communication with their government, to come here and express to their local officials how they feel about what went on in Albany.”
He encouraged the board to support the resolution.
Steve Hubbard quoted a New York City Police officer who told him “this is the most ridiculous law I could ever imagine having been passed. I run into crazies all day long, and they will still have their guns, and the innocent folks being penalized by this law will be defenseless.”
Eric Stock, a director of the Federated Sportsmen’s Clubs of Ulster County, told the board to “keep your eye on the bill that is in the Assembly and Senate right now mandating a million dollars in insurance for a firearms owner. I suggest you contact Kevin Cahill, who is the chair of the Assembly Insurance Committee, and tell him to stop that bill in his committee.”
“I appreciate that you are tabling it tonight, because I do agree with Mr. Schirmer that this is the first place where people can speak to their government,” said Michael Harkavy. “However, my concern was that there was probably nobody who knew about this resolution, other than some members of the sporting club. To the extent that there may be people who have opposing views, they weren’t here tonight because the resolution wasn’t public.”
Bob Littman drew applause when he said he will not go along with the SAFE Act. While gun owners have not been vocal in the past, “thanks to Gov. Cuomo, he woke a giant.” He warned that gun owners and their relatives and supporters would be a force that could vote Cuomo out of office.
Gaetana Ciarlante said that a woman’s ability to carry a gun “is particularly important to the weaker of the two sexes.”