Since it became law, the SAFE Act has been the subject of a robust public debate. The NRA and others opposed to the law have pressured local legislative bodies to pass resolutions demanding repeal of the SAFE Act. At the Bethlehem Town Board meeting on February 27, it was requested that we add our voices to those demanding repeal. However, because we believe that the SAFE Act represents a rational approach to the problem of gun violence, during that meeting we discussed (but took no formal action on) a resolution expressing support for the Act and other measures being proposed by President Obama at the federal level.
In the time since that meeting, we have been reminded of the passions evoked by this issue. Although we believe that a majority of Bethlehem residents support strong gun control measures and the SAFE Act, we acknowledge that there are also many in our town who are strongly opposed to some or all of its provisions. A debate on the specifics of the SAFE Act including consideration of technical amendments is already occurring at the state level. We strongly support the SAFE Act, stand in solidarity with those who enacted it, and certainly do not support its repeal. However, we also do not see the advantage in a protracted discussion at the town level on the details of the Act.
As citizens concerned with gun violence, we are proud to give our support to the SAFE Act, but we are local officials, and our duty and priority is governing the Town of Bethlehem. Because we do not wish to distract from the important town business we must address, we will express our support for the SAFE Act in this forum and will not pursue further consideration of a Town Board resolution on the subject. We expect that debate will continue on this topic at the state and federal levels, and we hope that despite the strong feelings involved with this issue on both sides, that the debate will be civil and constructive, and that people will listen to and consider opposing positions. We can disagree without disparaging the perspective or motives of those who express contrasting views.
Bethlehem Town Board members Jeffrey Kuhn, John Clarkson, Kyle Kotary and William Reinhardt