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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.

— Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the SAFE Act into law on Tuesday, Jan. 15, after a speedy trip through the state legislature. The tougher gun laws were the first to be adopted in the nation after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Conn. It also followed the recent shooting of two firefighters in Webster.

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A poster displaying banned features under the NY SAFE Act.

No lawmakers were at the forum, which was not geared as a debate but more as an information session.

“I would have liked to see some legislators stand up here and answer people’s ‘why’ questions,” Matthew Caron, a Galway resident, said after the forum.

Caron, 32, only started hunting recently and considers it a hobby. The first gun he purchased, which he killed his first deer with six months ago, falls under the ban.

“I was vacation and they banned my deer rifle,” he said.

Both of Caron’s state representatives, Senator Hugh Farley, R-Niskayuna, and Assemblyman Jim Tedisco, R-Glenville, voted against the new gun law. Caron urged the public to vote out anyone approving of the law.

“I view this bill as a referendum on freedom,” Caron said. “Anyone who voted ‘yes’ should be voted out of office — period.”

At the start of the forum, State Police Col. Thomas Fazio stressed police would not be “crashing” into people’s homes and taking their guns. Some people expressed concern about how the state would track ammunition purchases.

One competitive shooter attending the forum said he buys large amounts of ammunition at a time, up to 5,000 rounds. The state will track high-volume ammunition purchases under the law, but the tipping point for when an alert would be triggered isn’t clearly defined.

Tom Capezza, counsel to the State Police, said that is a “fluid” requirement that depends on individual circumstances.

“There is no bar set, no trip wire number, that is going to alert the authorities and say, ‘go check out this guy because he just bought 2,000 rounds,’” State Police Sgt. James Sherman said. “When we see a number associated with an ammunition purchase that we see as highly unusual we are going to want to make sure that the person purchasing that ammunition has only honorable intentions with that ammunition.”

Sherman said if an ammunition purchaser is associated with a firearms club or has a history of competitive shooting, then it wouldn’t concern police.

A website, www.NYSAFEAct.com, was developed to answer frequently asked questions from gun owners about the new law. Individual questions or things not addressed on the website can be asked by calling the hotline at 1-855-529-4867.

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