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VIDEO UPDATE: Mixed support locally for gun control proposals

By Lombardo David
Monday, January 14, 2013

The Capital Region's representation in the state Legislature was divided on gun control legislation unveiled by Gov. Andrew Cuomo late Monday night.

Freshman Assemblyman Phil Steck, D-Colonie, applauded Cuomo for advancing this legislation. He and the other handful of other Capital Region Democrats in the Assembly are expected to vote for this plan when it comes u.

"While more needs to be done at the National level, it is important for New York to be a leader in the fight against gun violence," said Steck, who has championed this cause since before he took office. "For that reason, I am one of the lead co-sponsors of this legislation."

Freshman Sen. Kathy Marchione, R-Halfmoon, voiced her displeasure with Cuomo's proposal on Twitter. "You can count on me for a NO vote on #GunControl," she wrote before the Senate debate.

On the senate floor, Marchione was one of the few "no" votes to voice her rationale. She argued that the proposal weakened the Second Amendment and said the bill should have been split, as there were portions of the bill, like the areas that dealt with mental illness, that she liked.

"I see good things," said Marchione from the floor of the state Senate shortly before midnight.

She also criticized the governor for the swift passage of this legislation, which they only got on their desks a few minutes before they were asked to pass it.

State Sen. Hugh Farley, R-Niskayuna, voted against the measure because he said it was an overreach by the governor that would infringe the Second Amendment rights of legal gun owners.

He added that his decision was also impacted by the responses he has gotten from constituents on the issue of gun control. "I had over 600 calls and letters against the bill and 15 in favor of it," Farley said.

State Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, voted against the measure and contended that the rights of law abiding citizens were infringed. "While the newly minted gun control laws offer some increased penalties for criminal use of guns and take a step toward keeping weapons out of the hands of the mentally ill, they overstep in many ways," he said in a statement.

“For the first time, New York will be registering rifles and confiscating private property. We will do background checks on the simple purchase of a box of .22 ammo for squirrel hunting or target practice. Someone who puts eight cartridges in his magazine instead of seven will be a felon. Sadly, these extreme, harsh measures won’t stop criminals from getting guns and using them for illegal purposes," Seward said. “These reactionary laws force new, onerous regulations on those who meticulously obey the law and infringe on Second Amendment rights. Further, we can’t afford to place good paying jobs at a long-standing employer in my district, Remington Arms, in jeopardy.

“Legislation focused on stopping gun crimes and preventing those at risk of harming themselves and others from obtaining firearms would have been a public safety win. However, further impeding the rights of law-abiding citizens does nothing to confront gun violence.”

Assemblyman James Tedisco, R-Glenville, opposed this measure, arguing it punishes law-abiding citizens.

"I support increasing penalties on those who commit acts of violence on school grounds and I support strengthening our mental health laws to prevent those who are unfit to own a gun to never have access to a firearm," he said in a statement. "We must strengthen penalties for anyone who uses an illegal gun or illegally gives a gun to someone who is prohibited from using one so we may prevent tragedies like what happened in Webster, NY against our brave first responders."

The rush to move this legislation was criticized by Assemblyman Tony Jordan, R-Jackson, who was recently elevated to the second position in his conference. He argued that the message of necessity from Cuomo, which skips the three day aging period for legislation, was a political move by the governor.

Jordan said the state Legislature should take time to debate the issue of gun violence, including mental health concerns, for at least a few days. Instead, he said, "what we're getting is a rush to pass this."

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