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Allegany County Courthouse


By BOB CLARK

BELMONT — County legislatures in Western New York continue to join growing calls for changes to the state’s latest gun laws.

The Allegany County Board of Legislators voted earlier this month to support a nonbinding resolution opposing changes to concealed carry laws that went into effect earlier this month, echoing a growing number of governments and groups opposed to the new limits.

Majority Leader Mike Healy, R-Belmont, said during the Legislature’s meeting on Wednesday that the laws were hastily passed, and their content “I believe are an unconstitutional attack on the rights of law-abiding citizens,” and is “making our communities unsafe.”

The panel is made up of 15 members, all Republicans. The voice vote was not unanimous, but a roll call was not taken.

The resolution specifically called out restrictions on “sensitive areas,” which include parks, houses of worship, and restaurants serving alcohol — the possession of a firearm in which is punishable as a felony. However, Healy noted the resolution also served as criticism of other recent gun control laws passed at the state level.

The specific law targeted by the resolution went into effect Sept. 1, and was one of two new laws going into effect that week. On Sept. 4, a law requiring a license to purchase semiautomatic rifles also went into effect.

The law was introduced, passed and signed on July 1 due to a message of necessity from Gov. Kathy Hochul, which waived the requirement that laws be on the desk of legislators for at least three days before a vote. The law was passed in the Senate on a party-line vote, with all 43 Democrats in favor and all 20 Republicans opposed.

The rush to pass the law followed a June 23 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, which declared the state’s requirements for “proper cause” to carry a concealed firearm was unconstitutional.

Cattaraugus County legislators approved a resolution Aug. 24 by a voice vote, calling the legislation “the result of a knee-jerk, unvetted and political reaction” and “an overt infringement upon freedom and liberty in New York State, which is devoid of common sense and does nothing to deal with the problems of crime and illegal firearms.” Fourteen of the Legislature’s 17 members served as sponsors.

The measure approved by Allegany County legislators closely follows a unanimous resolution the previous evening by Niagara County legislators, which saw the 15-member board unanimously sponsor and pass the resolution. That panel includes 11 Republicans and four Democrats. Several counties have issued similar resolutions, including Greene, Madison and St. Lawrence counties.

The moves were not the first time county legislatures have voiced opposition over the state’s gun laws.

In 2013, 52 of 62 counties offered up resolutions in opposition to the NY SAFE Act. Meanwhile, 10 counties — the five making up New York City; two on Long Island; and Albany, Tompkins and Westchester counties — did not pass an opposition resolution.

That law, passed in response to the Sandy Hook shooting, cracked down on the definition of assault weapons, required regular recertifications of pistol permits, made person-to-person gun sales illegal without background checks, and attempted to introduce an ammunition background check system.

The ammunition background check was dropped through a memorandum of understanding as it proved too costly to implement, and a rule limiting the loading of 10-round magazines to only seven rounds was struck down in federal court.