Decision time

On the heels of New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State Address, coincidentally, the Pomfret Town Board now has a decision to make on whether it should condemn the controversial New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013, or leave the issue alone.

During Wednesday’s board meeting, Councilman Christopher Schaeffer introduced what he dubbed, “A resolution condemning the manner and passage of the NY SAFE Act and supporting the repeal of state legislation infringing on the Second Amendment of the Constitution.”

“I consider the way that it was brought about to be ridiculous,” he said, addressing why he introduced the resolution to the board. “I can’t imagine any state of emergency that the governor considered it had to be passed within 24 hours, and, to be honest, it’s a really poorly written piece of legislation. It really needs to be rescinded, and the concerns it was trying to address could be addressed much better. Also, I’m very much for the Bill of Rights and the Second Amendment.”

Schaeffer’s resolution refers to the SAFE Act as containing multiple violations of the constitutional right to keep and bear arms “without infringement.” It also argues the SAFE Act was passed by the state legislature within a period of less than 24 hours of introduction to the legislature, thereby not allowing the mandatory three-day review period.

Cuomo had by-passed the review period by invoking what is called a “message of necessity,” which is a power granted to the governor by the New York State Constitution. If there is an urgent necessity to pass a bill as soon as possible, the governor can invoke this power.

Opponents of the SAFE Act argue the law was passed with no hearings, no testimony and no time for them to make a case to their legislators. Schaeffer, in his resolution, believes Cuomo did not provide proper justification to invoke a message of necessity.

“We’re happy to accept the submission of the resolution,” Supervisor Donald Steger told Schaeffer. “Any action that this board may take (right now) may be just as negligent as you say the state legislature was when passing it, since I’m not certain how many board members have actually read the SAFE Act.”

Schaeffer said he would provide copies of the SAFE Act to the other board members so they could read it before the next regular meeting, which is Feb. 12 at 6:30 p.m. in the town hall. The board may potentially decide on the resolution at that point.

“I’m completely willing to tweak (the resolution) and make it sound better and wait until a future date to act on it,” Schaeffer added.

“I don’t think we’re in a position to make any decisions on it tonight, except to acquire more information and educate ourselves on what is contained in the SAFE Act,” Steger said.

The SAFE Act, which was signed into law on Jan. 15, 2013, was in response to the massacre of 26 students and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The law imposed a variety of restrictions on assault-style weapons and, for a time, magazine limits. It also enhanced the penalties of killing emergency first responders and required comprehensive reviews of mental health records before granting firearms permits.

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