County legislator from Ogdensburg says SAFE act opposition good, but real battle will be fought in courts
Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - 11:29 am

By JIMMY LAWTON

CANTON -- County lawmakers unanimously passed a resolution calling for changes to the SAFE act at a crowded St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators meeting Monday.

Joseph Lightfoot R-Ogdensburg, who chairs the committee that created the resolution, said he wasn't surprised that people attended the meeting in large numbers, but he was enthused to see the high level of support.

"I though there would be a big turnout. That is why we decided to move it upstairs ahead of time," he said. "The place was packed."

The resolution was "softened" at the suggestion of legislators, but the integrity of the message was not hurt, according to Lightfoot.

"Several changes were made that didn't really affect the thrust of the arguments that were set forth in the resolution," he said.

The resolution says the recently passed SAFE act, aimed largely at limiting gun violence, violates second amendment rights and was unnecessarily rushed through the legislative process. The resolution also showed support for some aspects of the SAFE act.

"While there are provisions of the bill that have merit, for example; increased penalty for killing emergency responders, NICS checks for private sales of firearms, safe storage provisions, mental health record review, and increased penalties for the illegal use of a weapon; other provisions of the law, which run roughshod over second amendment rights, must be reconsidered and a new law should be introduced and done so in the light of day, and it must be given the time necessary to review its provisions, engage in meaningful and constructive debate and allow public review, comment and input relative to the content of the bill," an excerpt from the resolution says.

Despite the favorable and strong local response, Lightfoot said he does not believe the resolution will have a lot of impact on state lawmakers.

"It's not going to have any affect at all on the legislators. Realistically speaking it’s going to end up in the courts and that's where it will be decided," he said.

Lightfoot said it’s still important to send a message to the state officials that favored the law.

"If you get, in Albany, a bunch of resolutions like that from such a wide cross section of people - they may not react, but they know that their constituents are not pleased. And that is important."

Although the committee was successful in passing a resolution, he said his work is not done.

"I think we are going to have to be vigilant, because there are other bills pending," he said.

Lightfoot said one such bill aims to require every gun owner to purchase a million insurance policy.

"How ridiculous is that. All this to me is a veiled attempt to control guns," he said.

Lightfoot said every person at the meeting opposed the SAFE act and his experience outside the meeting has been similar.

“I might add that any of the emails, letters or calls I have gotten are not in favor of this law. Not a one.”