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Fervent frustration at firearms forum

State Police answer questions on new gun laws, face charged reactions

State Police Col. Thomas Fazio addresses the media before answering questions from residents about the recently implemented NY SAFE Act during a forum on Wednesday, Jan. 30, at the Schenectady County Library’s Central Branch.

State Police Col. Thomas Fazio addresses the media before answering questions from residents about the recently implemented NY SAFE Act during a forum on Wednesday, Jan. 30, at the Schenectady County Library’s Central Branch. Photo by John Purcell.

— Hunters and competitive shooters turned out in numbers at a Wednesday, Jan. 30, forum held by police to field questions about the state’s new gun laws, but the most popular query — why the law was adopted in the first place — went largely unanswered.

The forum hosted by state troopers at the Schenectady County Library’s Central Branch, located on Clinton Street in Schenectady, was aimed to provide answers to gun owners’ questions about the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, known as NY SAFE Act. Several similar forums were throughout other regions of the state, with Schenectady serving as the Capital District’s location.

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Steven Baker, a Knox resident, questioned the effectiveness of recently approved gun laws during a forum hosted by State Police in Schenectady.

Around 100 people attended the forum and applause often followed protests to the new regulations, but the crowd acknowledged their frustration wasn’t at “the messenger.”

Some audience members clearly weren’t supporters of the new law, which bans the sale of “assault style” weapons, limits magazines to seven bullets, requires background checks on all private firearm and ammunition sales and increases penalties for possessing illegal guns.

“How will this law take guns out of the hands of criminals, stop school shootings and save a single life?” asked Steven Baker, followed by the night’s first round of applause.

Baker, a 64-year-old competitive shooter from Knox, said he owns three rifles subject to the assault weapons ban. He’ll be able to keep them under the SAFE Act.

Patrick Hogan, an investigator for the State Police, explained anyone possessing a firearm now classified as an assault weapon can keep it, but must register it with the State Police by April 15, 2014. Such firearms must be re-registered every five years. There is no registration fee.

Hogan explained state legislators’ rationale for the new laws.

“What (lawmakers) are trying to do is lessen the availability of weapons that give an active shooter greater capability,” Hogan said. “Yeah, I know that affects … a lot of lot law abiding citizens, but that tradeoff was made by our elected leaders. We live in a constitutional republic, we elect our leaders and they make the laws.”

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