Local reps vote ‘no’ on new gun law

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— The four state lawmakers representing the area all voted against the newly signed “NY SAFE Act” this past Tuesday, saying it will not stop gun violence from happening.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signing of the legislation this past Tuesday makes New York State the first state to enact tighter restrictions on guns after the Dec. 14 massacre in Newtown, Conn., where 26 people, including 20 children, died.

The legislation is also now the most restrictive nationwide. Here is a synopsis of their comments:

State Sen. William J. Larkin Jr. (R-C-Cornwall-on-Hudson)

“I voted against the governor’s proposal because I firmly believe it is too restrictive on our legal, law abiding gun owners and does not adequately address the issue of illegal weapons and their use during the commission of a crime,” Larkin in a statement.

Larkin, who represents the 38th senatorial district, said gun violence will not be stopped by restricting lawful, honest gun owners.

“It is career criminals and their access to illegal weapons that are the main problem facing our cities, towns and villages – not people who support the second amendment.”

State Sen. John Bonacic (R-Mt. Hope)

“Calls to my offices have been overwhelmingly against more gun control,” Bonacic said in a statement. “When my constituents are overwhelmingly against something, and the bill we are asked to vote on is rushed through without any public review, that is nearly always a good reason to vote ‘no.’”

Bonacic, who represents the 42nd senatorial district, said New York already had the toughest gun laws in the nation for years and the new law negatively impacts law abiding gun owners.

“Too often, in a rush to be ‘first’ or ‘toughest’ or in a desire to vote on something that ‘sounds good’ or appeases a particular constituency, substantive policies are carelessly enacted,” he said. “ I sincerely hope this law does stop another massacre, but I honestly believe it is nothing more than window dressing designed to make people feel secure until the next tragedy strikes – all while criminalizing the actions of otherwise law abiding citizens.”

Assemblyman James Skoufis (D-Central Valley)

“The provisions of the bill to increase criminal penalties, expand Kendra’s Law and overall mental wellness, and close background check loopholes are a tremendous step in the right direction of public safety and measures I completely support,” said Skoufis, the newly elected 99th Assembly District representative in an e-mail statement to Straus News. “There were some additional provisions in the bill, however, that have no effect on improving public safety and only restrict the rights of law-abiding hunters, sportsmen, and gun owners.”

Assemblywoman Annie Rabbitt (R-C-Greenwood Lake)

On her Facebook page, 98th Assembly District incumbent discussed why she also voted no, saying she believed “serious conversation needed to happen regarding mental health, criminal justice and, of course, gun control.”

Rabbitt said the bill was “disclosed under the cloak of darkness and bypassing the three-day public review process” and questioned Cuomo’s intentions.

“In typical Albany dysfunction we saw another governor force through his own personal and political agenda, bypassing any chance for the open and honest debate that the people of New York deserve,” she wrote on her page. “This bill does little to actually improve public safety or address the root causes behind the horrific attacks in Connecticut and Webster, New York, and, at the same time, this bill not only seriously infringes on the constitutional rights of New Yorkers but, in the manner it was presented and crammed through the ‘process,’ it also compromises our very democracy.”

She added: “The bill does nothing to tackle illegal guns or to seriously improve mental health care –in fact, this bill stigmatizes mental health, and I fear it will dissuade those who need care from seeking it. Criminals will still find a way to obtain guns illegally and commit horrific crimes and, unfortunately, this bill does nothing to address that very serious problem or to put an end to it.”

By Nancy Kriz

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