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Nearly 100 people attended a special meeting on New York's new gun law Monday night at the old Essex County courthouse in Elizabethtown. The Board of Supervisors passed a resolution calling for repeal of the Secure Ammunitions and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act. Photo: Chris Morris, courtesy of <em>Adirondack Daily Enterprise</em>
Nearly 100 people attended a special meeting on New York's new gun law Monday night at the old Essex County courthouse in Elizabethtown. The Board of Supervisors passed a resolution calling for repeal of the Secure Ammunitions and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act. Photo: Chris Morris, courtesy of Adirondack Daily Enterprise

Essex County calls for SAFE Act repeal

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Essex County wants the state to repeal the Secure Ammunitions and Firearms Enforcement, or NY SAFE, Act and replace it with measures that are fully vetted by the public.

A resolution demanding the repeal of the new gun law passed 15-2 after a two-and-a-half-hour special meeting at the county courthouse Monday night. A second resolution opposing a proposed bill that would require gun owners to purchase $1 million liability insurance policies passed unanimously.

Essex County joins a growing legion of counties and other municipalities that want the state to repeal the much-maligned law. North Country lawmakers say it's unlikely that the law will be repealed since it had such overwhelming support in the Assembly.

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Chris Morris
Tri-Lakes Correspondent

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Nearly 100 people attended Monday's special meeting, which featured comments from gun owners who oppose the SAFE Act, although a few speakers defended parts of the law.

In the end, the board voted overwhelmingly to call upon the state to repeal the law. Jay town Supervisor Randy Douglas chairs the Essex County Board of Supervisors.

"There are things in the law that I agree with; there's some that I don't," Douglas said. "But I honestly feel in my heart that it should go back to the state legislature and the governor to rewrite this law, with new ideas [and] with input from mental health experts, law-enforcement experts and county clerks' associations – and have some public input.

"In the end, I look at it this way, and I've said this a few times: I do not believe that if you took a lighter away from an arsonist, that he still wouldn't find a way to commit the crime."

The resolution says the lawful use of firearms is a "valued tradition in Essex County." It calls the SAFE Act complex and confusing, and claims it would require the county to hire more staff at the clerk's office and purchase additional computer systems.

Monday night's meeting wasn't billed as a public hearing, but supervisors encouraged people to speak before the vote. Don Sage, president of the Schroon Lake Fish and Game Club, urged the board to do more than just ask for repeal.

"There's got to be a stop to this," he said. "There's got to be a way to pick on the criminals instead of picking on law-abiding citizens. We need to stand up and fight back. ... Oppose this law, oppose enforcing it, and oppose complying with it. Nobody has a right to tell you what you've got in your house except you."

Lorraine Duvall of Keene was among a small group that opposed the county's resolution. She said the public didn't have enough time to review the document before Monday night's vote.

"The timing that happened with this resolution is similar to what happened with the New York state law," Duvall said. "That is, there wasn't time for us to respond."

Supervisors countered that the board gave the public ample time to provide feedback.

When it came time for the board to vote, several supervisors who initially opposed repealing the SAFE Act ended up joining their colleagues to support the resolution. Minerva town Supervisor Sue Montgomery-Corey said she voted against a similar resolution passed by her town board but decided to represent her town's interests at the county level.

"The SAFE Act is a state law: it's enacted by the Senate and the Assembly and signed by the governor," she said. "No action of my town board or this body can overturn that. Our vote tonight is symbolic. There's power in symbols."

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