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Canajoharie, NY ,

County playing it SAFE with its seal

Wednesday, March 05, 2014 - Updated: 7:45 PM


For the C-S-E

FONDA -- The Montgomery County Legislature adopted a resolution last week opposing the use of the county's seal and name on any state material associated with the implementation of the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act.

District 7 Legislator Barbara Wheeler and District 8 Legislator Joseph Isabel sponsored the resolution at the board's Feb. 25 meeting.

Wheeler said the SAFE Act requires gun owners to register their pistols every five years. The state is mailing letters to gun owners who need to reregister, and wants to use the county seal on those documents.

Wheeler said allowing the seal to appear on the letter will cause havoc for the county clerk's office, because first-time applicants and pistol owners would see the seal and assume the registry is the county's responsibility.

Wheeler said it would cost the county money by taking up time and resources.

Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy met with all the county clerks, and reassured them it was OK not to provide their stamp on the letters, Wheeler said.

"It's our seal, it's our option," Wheeler said. "This isn't exactly opposing the SAFE Act, but it is keeping two levels of government apart."

The resolution was added to the agenda at the meeting, but not every legislator was in a hurry to make the decision.

"One of the original criticisms of the SAFE Act was that it was rushed through. What is our rush, then? Why did we have to decide on it this evening?" District 6 Legislator John Duchessi said.

Wheeler said last year, elected officials supported two resolutions opposing the law.

"We need to be consistent," she said.

The resolution passed 8-1; Duchessi was the only legislator who voted against it.

Duchessi said the resolution is in opposition to the SAFE Act, and he personally is not opposed to the law.

"It didn't matter how many times the proponents said it was not about the SAFE Act, it was about the SAFE Act. If they repeated it six more times, it would still be about the SAFE Act," Duchessi said.

He said he is against supporting any piece of legislation that advises a higher level of government how they should conduct their business. Duchessi said the legislature has enough issues to keep it busy.

"I would rather spend my time focusing on that," he said.

Wheeler said 38 other counties removed their seal from the letter as well.

"I think sometimes politics interferes with the business of the people. That is why some people will vote 'no' even if it was not in the best interest for the county," Wheeler said.


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