Some state and local officials today assailed the Poughkeepsie common council’s discussion of a safe storage gun law. They say Second Amendment rights are at risk and are threatening to sue to stop any such ordinance. Meanwhile, the common council member who raised the issue says opponents are blowing the matter out of proportion.
Poughkeepsie Mayor John Tkazyik; state Assemblyman Kieran Lalor; and City of Poughkeepsie Common Council Minority Leader Lee David Klein, all Republicans, stood with the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association president outside City Hall Thursday, calling a common council discussion about safe gun storage anti-Second Amendment talk and an attempt to limit one’s right to self-defense. Here’s Tkazyik.
“And I will veto any legislation that is voted on by the Common Council that comes before my desk to enact a safe storage ordinance,” says Tkazyik. “I will veto it on day one.”
Lalor, who is from East Fishkill and does not represent Poughkeepsie, calls any measure to require safe storage of guns feel-good legislation that does nothing to take illegal guns off the streets.
“We are here today to live out President Jefferson’s words that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance,” says Lalor. “We’re going to be vigilant about our rights here in Dutchess County.”
Lalor, a Marine Corps veteran of the Iraq war, says the mayor and minority leader asked him to lend his voice to opposing any hint of a weapons safe storage ordinance in Poughkeepsie.
“Buffalo has had similar conversations. Albany has had similar conversations about an ordinance,” says Lalor. “And we’re here to say, no, we’ve had our Second Amendment rights chipped away at and chipped away at, in big chunks and in little chunks, and it stops today.”
Democratic Common Councilwoman ShaRon McClinton raised the issue at an April 6 council meeting.
“My ward, the 6th ward, is one of the most violent ones in the city of Poughkeepsie, crime riddled,” says McClinton. “Why would I ever try to even insult the city of Poughkeepsie residents who are first and foremost on my agenda to put you at further damage, or unsafe.”
She argues that safe gun storage is not a Second Amendment issue, but one of safety and responsibility. She says opponents are blowing the matter out of proportion. Common Council Minority Leader Klein doesn’t think so.
“The issue we have in the city of Poughkeepsie is not lawful ownership of firearms. That is not the problem,” Klein says. “The problem here is homicidal young men hunting down other homicidal young men. That’s the problem we have in the city of Poughkeepsie. This proposed ordinance has nothing to do with that.”
“When it gets to this kind of weather, we have a lot of gun violence in the city of Poughkeepsie. We have our youth killing each other. And they usually get them [the guns] they don’t come from out of state, they come from our homes that they rob right around here. That becomes the weapon that they kill each other on the streets,” McClinton says. “So I’m saying, if I’m not home, and my weapon is there, then I need to make sure that you cannot rob be and be able to put it together and then come back and kill me or someone else. That’s all I’m asking for.”
A safe storage ordinance from Poughkeepsie would exceed safe storage regulation in the New York SAFE Act, or Safe Ammunitions and Firearms Enforcement Act, the controversial gun control bill Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law more than two years ago. McClinton says the idea is to have guns enclosed in a locked case or disassembled, or keeping the ammunition separate. Democratic City Council Majority Leader Tracy Hermann says the discussion was just that.
“Out of that discussion last Monday evening the council was clear that before we could move anything forward we really needed to get more data, we needed to gather the data, assess the data, do some more research about other municipalities,” says Hermann. “There is no plan to move the legislation forward at this time.”
Tom King is president of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association.
“If this legislation is passed into law, which I don’t think it will be because the mayor has said it, but I want to let the city council know that we are ready to take this to court because the decision has already been decided in Heller,” says King. “And if they want to go that way and they want to pay our legal expenses, bring it on because we’re tired of taking it. We’re going on the offensive.”
He refers to Supreme Court case Heller v. District of Columbia.
“The Heller decision specifically said that anything that makes it more difficult for a lawful citizen to defend himself in his home is unconstitutional,” says King.
A written response from Democratic Poughkeepsie Common Council Chairman Christopher Petsas said of what he called the gun rally, “For those who wish to, for political purposes, use this to rally their base of supporters – they should be ashamed.” The New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, on its web site, urges residents to oppose any mandatory firearms storage at the next Common Council meeting April 20.