By Joe Mahoney
The Daily Star
---- — COOPERSTOWN — As a new poll showed Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s approval ratings are dropping in upstate New York, the Otsego County Board of Representatives overwhelmingly backed a resolution Wednesday calling for repeal of his new comprehensive gun control law.
Cuomo attracted national headlines in January when he pushed through sweeping legislation, known as the New York SAFE Act. The new law, rushed through the Legislature, includes a variety of measures that redefine so-called assault weapons, limit the size of magazine capacity and require owners of some long guns to register those weapons for the first time.
But that controversial legislation has proven to be unpopular in many rural counties, and a poll released Wednesday showed Cuomo’s job approval rating among registered voters upstate has drooped to 49 percent from 58 percent in October.
In addition, the poll — by the Wall Street Journal, NBC and Marist College — found that 37 percent of all voters now see him as a moderate. In January 2012, 57 percent of all voters told the pollsters they viewed him as moderate.
Wednesday’s vote by the Otsego Board of Representatives was a symbolic one that puts the county on record as being in support of repealing the law. The state Association of Counties had recommended that counties consider a a different option — calling for the amendment of the law.
But critics of the Cuomo legislation said it amounts to such an infringement on the constitutional rights of gun owners that the entire measure should be erased from the books.
Nine representatives voted for repeal, and only four opposed the resolution. The four opposed to repeal are all Oneonta Democrats: Catherine Rothenberger, Linda Rowinski, Gary Koutnik and Katherine Stuligross. Rep. Pauline Koren, R-Milford, was absent from the meeting.
Among the Democrats who broke ranks with Cuomo, the de facto head of the state Democratic Party, on the issue was Rep. Beth Rosenthal, D-Roseboom.
Explaining her support for repeal, Rosenthal said: “It was the way the law was enacted, aside from the fact there were definitely flaws in it. I would like to see good legislation come out of Albany, and I could not support SAFE Act because of the way it was done, in the dark of night, no sunshine, and with no public input.”
Many owners of firearms urged county representatives to come out in favor of repeal, arguing the oath of office required that they uphold the U.S. Constitution.
Koutnik said gun control “absolutely not in violation of the Second Amendment” and argued a better approach would be to amend the legislation.
“The idea of restricting access to firearms to people who are going to use them violently against others, I think, is a good idea,” he said. He said he was concerned that if the measure is repealed, Republicans will block any attempt to replace it.