COOPERSTOWN — The stage is set for the Otsego County Board of Representatives to determine if it wants to go on record in calling for the repeal of controversial gun control legislation that Gov. Andrew Cuomo claims will enhance public safety throughout New York.
The board’s Public Safety Committee, led by Rep. James Powers, R-Butternuts, agreed Thursday to offer such a resolution when the full board meets March 6.
Two of the panel’s members — Reps. Catherine Rothenberger, D-Oneonta and Beth Rosenthal, D-Roseboom — said that they were tentatively backing the resolution only because they agreed it should be debated by the full board. They indicated their support for it Thursday does not necessarily mean they agree that the legislation — known as the New York SAFE Act — should be repealed.
The panel acted after Otsego County Sheriff Richard Devlin Jr. advised the members that, in his view, the new gun law is seriously flawed and fails to address the mental health problems that often underlie the actions of those who perpetrate mass shootings.
“This law will make law abiding citizens criminals if they choose to stand up for their Second Amendment rights guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution,” Devlin advised the panel members.
Powers argued that Cuomo had a “political” motive to push through the first assault weapon clampdown in the nation following the school massacre in Newtown, Conn.
Rothenberger questioned why the resolution included the suggestion that firearms ownership is a “valued tradition,” noting she’d “be happy in a world without guns.”
Several gun rights advocates attended the meeting, among them, Bianca Bello of Milford, a former police officer.
“I think this is good that it is going to the full board,” she said. “I’m not looking to push things through like Cuomo did in the dark of the night. I think everyone has the right to be heard.”
Bello added: "If any of the board members have trouble with the oath they took to uphold the Constitution, they should step down from their position."
The Schoharie County Board of Supervisors is expected to pass a resolution today that calls for the repeal of the new gun law.
*An element of this story was changed at 11:45 a.m. Friday.