County moves forward with opposition to ‘strict’ concealed-carry state bill

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The Cortland County Legislature will vote to send a letter in opposition to the New York State Legislature’s Concealed Carry Improvement Act next week.

The state bill enacts a strict permitting process for concealed-carry licenses and it requires background checks for ammunition sales. It also restricts the concealed carry of firearms in locations such as government buildings. 

County legislators at the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee meeting Tuesday voted unanimously to send an opposing resolution, alleging the bill is an act of state government overreach.

“New York passed the Concealed Carry Improvement Act compelling citizens to comply with new concealed carry licensing requirements which are unjustifiably restrictive, subjective, and a gross overreach of state authority,” the County Legislature’s resolution states. “The Concealed Carry Improvement Act promulgated requirements which directly compromised privacy protections, imposed undue financial burdens, and so severely curtailed the practicable use of a concealed carry license as to render the license meaningless.”

The county also alleges the bill was passed with no input from law enforcement. Thus, they claim, it should be repealed.

“It’s important we and other counties get the word out that we are not happy with the restrictions,” County legislator Joseph Nauseef (R-LD-12) said of the resolution.

For legislator Cathy Bischoff (D-LD-3), the bill is an infringement of civil rights.

“We are dealing with a very challenging situation in this country in terms of gun violence, and I get that, this is not an easy place to be in,” she said. “When you look at the statements made in the law on how to enforce or how to judge character, how they ask for social media accounts, it really eliminates so many places where you can carry a gun that why even have a concealed carry permit. As a property owner, I have to make an affirmative statement about whether or not I allow guns in my property, and that is extraordinarily intrusive.”

Not every legislator agreed with the resolution. Legislature Minority Leader Beau Harbin (D-LD-2) reflected on the contents of the resolution, noting he would like to see the county take a stand against gun violence. He noted the 10th anniversary of the elementary school shooting in Sandy Hook in Connecticut looms large over such a decision.

“This goes on and on and on and we do nothing,” he said. “This cannot stand. We need to take a stand against gun violence. This is an important issue.”

Harbin said the resolution sends a message to the residents of Cortland County who suffered from gun violence, telling them they are opposing what amounts to a measure of gun control.

“We have done it before, we keep doing it,” he said. “It needs to stop.”

If approved by the legislature at its session at 6 p.m. next Thursday, copies of the resolution will be sent to Gov. Kathy Hochul, State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, State Senator Peter Oberacker, and Assemblywoman Anna Kelles.