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Gun fight comes to Albany County Legislature

Gun rights advocates call on lawmakers to support SAFE Act repeal

The Albany County Legislature’s Monday, March 11, meeting attracted a large crowd for an item that wasn’t on the agenda. Republican Legislator Deborah Busch circulated a proclamation calling to repeal the SAFE Act.

The Albany County Legislature’s Monday, March 11, meeting attracted a large crowd for an item that wasn’t on the agenda. Republican Legislator Deborah Busch circulated a proclamation calling to repeal the SAFE Act. Photo by John Purcell.

— Shufelt argued opposing the gun control law isn’t a partisan issue and said he is a lifelong Democrat.

Paul Rapoli, 58, of Voorheesville, identified himself as a National Rifle Association member for more than 40 years and said he does not want to see the SAFE Act amended, but repealed entirely.

“This law is nothing more than feel good legislation and it will not have the effect of stopping anyone that is depraved like the person that killed 26 in Newtown, Conn.,” Rapoli said. “Does anyone think that if someone intent on such an act will run to the county sheriff’s department, register his rifle, count out the new legal amount of ammunition and worry about passing a background check? I think not.”

Rapoli, along with other advocates, said he opposed the law because it affected his right to defend and protect his family.

Lefkaditis Vasilios, of Knox, took a different approach and said he wasn’t going to ask for the law to be repealed. He offered a “middle ground” to amend the law to allow a person an exemption from the seven round magazine limit only while in their home.

“None of you have the right to take away our ability to defend our families,” Vasilios said.

Vasilios, along with other speakers, referenced a Siena Research Institute Poll released earlier that day that found 61 percent of New Yorkers support the SAFE Act. Some argued the poll was skewed towards Downstate residents.

“Polls are completely contingent upon the pool in which they are sampling,” Vasilios said. “If I sampled a pool in the back of this room I have a feeling the results would be significantly different.”

The poll showed 76 percent of Democrats supporting it compared to 37 percent of Republicans. Independents and voters identifying with other or no party supported it by 53 percent.

“Over the last month, upstate opposition has grown significantly, while Republican opposition decreased slightly,” Siena pollster Steven Greenberg said in a statement. “A majority of voters, including two-thirds of Democrats and nearly two-thirds of Downstaters, do not want the law repealed.”

Pollsters noted 12 percent of people supporting the law now want it repealed, while 9 percent of opponents feel it should not be repealed, indicating there may be shifting opinions on the matter.

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