About 300 people packed the Delhi American Legion on Saturday for a forum on the controversial NY SAFE Act.
Presented by the Delaware County chapter of New York Revolution, a grassroots organization promoting awareness about personal liberties, the forum stretched on for three hours to a standing-room-only crowd. Local legislators from the state and federal levels joined other guest speakers in a passionate program focused on fighting what was described as an unfair and ineffective law.
The Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, passed 13 months ago, established a variety of tighter controls on firearm sales and ownership in New York state in response to the school shooting in Newtown, Conn. The forum focused on passive resistance and awareness-building as ways to fight the law.
“We do not advocate violence, but do stand for non-compliance to laws that take away our rights,” NYR coordinator George Curbelo explained.
State Sen. James R. Seward, R-Milford, seemed to support the speakers’ advice when he noted that, “Nothing authorizes a fee if you don’t register your firearms.”
Seward also spoke about a bill before the state senate to repeal “Cuomo’s ill-conceived gun control” law while keeping intact the provision in law which mandates life without parole for anyone who murders an emergency responder. Seward warned, however, that “a repeal is a long process and will take years.”
“The NY unSAFE Act does nothing to solve the problem of violence,” Seward added. “It is only onerous restrictions placed on our law-abiding citizens who rightfully own firearms. As a legislator, I’d rather write laws that come down tougher on violent criminals and that treat the mental health problems.”
Delaware County Sheriff Tom Mills concurred, noting that “The unSAFE Act does not address the bad people who use guns for violence. ... We need meaningful answers. We need to vote for and elect officials who work to change the mental health issues our country is dealing with now.”
NYR Coordinator Gia Arnold prompted the audience to take action.
“No more sitting in our comfortable houses,” said Arnold. “We can talk to our neighbors and campaign.”
Congressman Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, reminded the audience that “The Founding Fathers brought forth the Constitution and the document has withstood the test of time. We will fight to be governed by the Constitution, not the state. A limited but effective government is what we stand for.”
Referring to a recent public comment by Cuomo that conservatives could leave New York if they didn’t like it, Gibson said, “We are not leaving New York. We will vote and we will vote for the rights of everyone.”
“I’m disgusted that our rights have been stripped away,” Delaware County Undersheriff Craig DuMond said angrily. “Law enforcement is designed to uphold the constitution.”
Assemblyman Pete Lopez, R-Schoharie, told the audience that, “We are at ground zero. ... It is time we rouse from our apathy and focus our energy,” adding, “This is our America and we will take it back.”
Other local speakers included Delhi Town Supervisor Mark Tuthill, Delaware County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jim Eisel, Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, R-New Hartford, and Kevin Sisson of Schoharie County.