Hundreds in Onondaga County speak out against NY SAFE Act

Legislatures in half of New York's counties have already passed resolutions opposing the new gun laws.
Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- Hundreds of people lined up in Syracuse to call for a repeal of New York’s SAFE Act on Monday. Legislatures in half of the 62 counties across the state have already passed resolutions opposing the new gun laws.

Before legislators in Onondaga County vote, they opened up the floor for comment.  So many residents showed up to speak that the session was delayed more than half an hour while dozens of people waited to pass through security screenings.

“Why was it passed so quickly? Why was it passed so fast without any input by constituents?” asked one person.

After two hours, in standing room only, all but one person in the crowd pushed local legislators to join a long list of counties that have passed resolutions to support revisions or an outright repeal of the law. A World War II veteran tried to cool the flames.

“Talking in terms of armed overthrow of the duly elected government of the United States. That is wrong. You should be ashamed of yourselves,” said Syracuse resident Bill Andrews.

Andrews was outnumbered by gun rights advocates who question the validity of the legislation passed after a late-night meeting of state leadership in mid-January.

“This bill was passed in a procedural rush job called a message of necessity and yet many provisions take 15 months to take effect. So why the necessity?” asked another person who attended the meeting.

Many speakers questioned whether the law really addresses the problem of violence caused by illegal guns. They had support from the Onondaga County Clerk and the sheriff's office, both overwhelmed with an influx of work and saying there's no clear guidance or funding to fulfill the new regulations.

“We do not have the personnel to keep up with the increase in the demand for pistol permits or those legal gun owners that are going out and buying additional guns,” explained John Balloni, with the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office.

Last year, legislators approved funding for a new computer system to expedite the permit process, but it has to be revised to include provisions of the new law before it goes online. In particular, many people are requesting to opt-out of a section of the permit process that would allow clerks to share their personal information through the state's Freedom of Information law. Balloni said it would be easier if gun owners were allowed to "opt-in" to sharing private information instead.

County Clerk Sandy Schepp said there are roughly 45,000 pistol permits in Onondaga County that would have to be added to the new system. Meanwhile, passage of the NY SAFE Act may have prompted several hundred new applications in recent weeks.

Onondaga County legislators will vote on the resolution asking for a repeal of NewYork’s SAFE Act on Tuesday. The meeting starts at 1 p.m.

Additionally, the Town of Clay unanimously passed a resolution to amend the SAFE Act. The town board argues the gun control bill was rushed through both the Senate and the Assembly and it was pushed through without a public hearing or any input from law enforcement agencies.

The resolution says the law should focus on increasing penalties for criminals who use guns and focus on issues of mental health and gun violence.

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