LAKEWOOD - A standing room only crowd attended Southern Tier TEA Party Patriots general meeting Tuesday, March 19 at the Lakewood American Legion.
Chautauqua County Sheriff Joseph Gerace gave a well-received presentation on New York State's 2013 Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, commonly known as the SAFE Act. Gerace responded to many questions raised during his presentation.
Words of Ronald Regan, a reminder to all present of the philosophical underpinnings of STTPP, were displayed prominently behind Gerace. "Man is not free unless government is limited...As government expands, liberty contracts." Those present were concerned about provisions in the new law affecting their constitutional right to "keep and bear arms," as granted in the second amendment. Most present considered the governor's and legislature's actions as an assault on constitutional rights granted to U.S. citizens.
Entitled "NYS SAFE Act: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly," Gerace introduced his presentation with these words, "I am a hand gun owner. I believe strongly in the second amendment, and this isn't my piece of legislation in any way, shape or form." The crowd responded with cheers and applause. He also stated his office will not comply with Freedom Of Information Law, or FOIL, requests for the names of gun owners in Chautauqua County.
The sheriff stated major concerns center on the way in which the current legislation was "ramrodded" through the legislature in a two-day process and with no public comments. As a result, every county, with the exception of Tompkins and those in the New York City area, wants to see change and modifications in the law.
Re-registration of pistol permits every five years also was a concern for attendees. If a permit is not recertified every five years, Gerace emphasized the permit will be revoked - in contrast to suspended - meaning it is gone permanently. New disqualifiers were added in the law: criminal convictions; involuntary commitments; those subject to orders of protection; and death records. Attendees also were shown examples of assault-type firearms now regarded as illegal - folding stocks, pistol grips, folding or telescoping stocks, thumb hole stocks, a second hand grip, bayonet mount and grenade launchers.
In describing how high-capacity ammunition magazines are now limited to seven rounds rather than 10, Gerace said, "We are much safer today." Additionally, ammunition purchases will be tracked, a background check required and buyers now unable to purchase ammunition directly over the Internet.