Dan Hust | Democrat
With a standing-room-only crowd behind him, Oath keepers' John Mahoney urges legislators on thursday to vote against the NY SAFE Act, which was enacted in the wake of the Newtown, CT shootings.
County Legislature unanimous: Repeal SAFE
By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO March 26, 2013 More than 200 people crowded into the hearing room at the Government Center Thursday to support what ultimately was a unanimous vote by legislators to call for the repeal of the state’s SAFE Act.
“An unarmed population is easy to subdue,” cautioned Loch Sheldrake resident and veteran Joe Collura in a speech that led to a standing ovation.
He recalled in his youth seeing summer visitors with numbers tattooed on their arms, only understanding they were Holocaust survivors when he was older.
“I had my first glimpse of the dark side of human nature,” he said, warning that Germany’s past could become America’s future. “... We as a nation are not immune to that darker nature.”
“Our government has seen fit by fiat to criminalize me,” added Oath Keepers founder John Mahoney, speaking of new limits on how much ammunition legal gun owners can carry. “… I wonder what he [Gov. Andrew Cuomo] thinks the criminals should load into their magazines.”
Hortonville resident Al Steppich recalled the days when local schools let out for the opening day of deer hunting season.
“Every kid carried a pocketknife,” he related, “and the thought of harming anyone never entered your mind.”
The head of a local club which teaches rifle skills and safety to young people, Steppich believes both the state and federal governments are headed in the wrong direction.
“My generation has seen the last of this country’s best days,” he lamented.
Grahamsville resident Ken Walter, however, thought attendees should also bring as much passion and protest to the decade-old Patriot Act, which he felt restricts Americans’ freedoms even more.
“Keep up the good fight on this one,” Walter acknowledged, “… and get on the bandwagon with the other one.”
There was one voice Thursday in contrast to the others Monticello resident Tom Manza, who called for an amendment to the SAFE Act rather than a repeal.
“A lot of people want certain things [in the Act], like background checks,” he noted.
He worried about mentally unstable people owning or having access to guns, akin to what happened in Newtown, CT.
“I truly hope whatever laws are put in place will make this country a safer and better place,” he remarked.
Ultimately, legislators voted 9-0 to echo the call for repeal made in resolutions in the majority of Sullivan County townships.
“Our forefathers were very clear on this issue,” Kitty Vetter stated, referring to the U.S Constitution’s Second Amendment. “... Creating the SAFE Act goes totally against our rights as a nation.
“... If our governor wants to keep us safe, this act is not the answer,” she added. “... We might lose both our rights and our safety.”
“What it’s about is our Constitutional rights,” added Gene Benson, who introduced the resolution.
“I’m here to uphold the Constitution,” agreed Cindy Gieger. “... We need to always err on the side of liberty.”
“I don’t want to see our rights slip away when we fought so hard to preserve them,” said Cora Edwards.
The resolution, however, is symbolic. Whether the State Legislature will take up the matter again is uncertain, though New York is being sued by the NRA over the Act.