While there are already multiple legal challenges to New York’s post-Bruen gun control laws underway, we could soon see a coordinated pushback against the new infringements on the right to bear arms from elected officials.
In Niagara County, the county legislature this week approved without dissent a resolution opposing the new laws, but also calling for the county to adopt “whatever legislative and legal remedies are necessary and appropriate, including working in coalition with other counties, to overturn the state law.” It’s a move backed not only by the county lawmakers, but local law enforcement as well.
“Let me be clear, that from a law enforcement point of view, there is nothing in this state legislation that will make that our communities any safer,” [Niagara County Sheriff Michael] Filicetti said. “Improving public safety means revisiting issues like bail reform, discovery reform, how we treat repeat juvenile offenders. Those are the issues that are impacting our neighborhoods, not legal gun ownership.”
Filicetti isn’t just speaking out against the new gun control measures either. He’s actively working to decrease the number of gun-free zones in the county.
Part of this new legislation is that it’s now illegal to conceal carry on any private property or business unless there’s a physical sign posted expressing the owner’s approval, so the sheriff’s office is providing signs to business owners that say they allow for concealed carry.
These signs will work for all business expect those like bars and restaurants that serve alcohol, movie theaters and entertainment venue, which would fall under the list of sensitive locations provided by the state where concealed carry is illegal regardless of the owner’s wishes.
“It’s important that those signs get out and get in the community to send a message that we’re promoting concealed in this county,” said Niagara County Sheriff Michael Filicetti.
Despite Gov. Kathy Hochul continuously expressing how important she feels this legislation is and that those who don’t follow the new law could face a felony, the sheriff says the state has this one backwards and that all complaints will be going to the bottom of his pile.
“We will take a complaint, but the complaint will come to my desk, and nothing will happen with it until I do an approval on it,” said Filicetti.
“We are far busier handling our caseload and our criminal or real criminal activity already.”
Sounds like the sheriff has his priorities straight, and my guess is that he’s not alone in de-prioritizing complaints that a concealed carry holder stepped into a “sensitive place”; choosing instead to focus the department’s finite resources on addressing real crimes.
Niagara County isn’t alone in calling for a coalition of likeminded officials to team up and tear down these new restrictions. The St. Lawrence County legislature approved a similar resolution on Monday, with lawmakers expressing hope that they and others can use the courts to block the laws from being enforced.
The county board “expresses its profound opposition to the Concealed Carry Improvement Act and asserts that it is an unconstitutional enactment,” according to the resolution.
“When we take office, we make an oath to uphold the Constitution,” said Legislator Rita E. Curran, R-Massena, who sponsored the resolution. “I’m hoping more people will read and understand their constitutional rights, and support this resolution.”
Legislator Kevin D. Acres, R-Madrid, agreed.
“New York has been on a tear since the SAFE Act (New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013) with knee-jerk reactions for lawful constitutional rights to protect ourselves,” he said. “The citizens of St. Lawrence County and New York State have had their constitutional rights inhibited … I am fully on board to support this resolution 100 percent, and I hope everyone else does as well.”
“We’re trying to fix a problem that doesn’t exist,” said Legislator Larry D. Denesha, R-DeKalb. “We need to do what we can to undo this.”
Some legislators were concerned about one part of the resolution that empowers the county attorney to file suit in the name of St. Lawrence County against the law.
“I would hate to find out after the fact that we’re involved in a lawsuit,” said Legislator Nicole A. Terminelli, D-Massena, who still voted in favor of the resolution. She proposed an amendment to the resolution to remove the clause granting the county attorney such powers, but it was struck down in a majority vote.
Instead, Legislator Joseph R. Lightfoot, R-Ogdensburg, proposed an amendment requiring board approval for any lawsuits brought forth by the county attorney, which passed unanimously.
So, while Second Amendment organizations are launching their legal fights, it looks like we may soon see several counties add to the avalanche of litigation prompted by Hochul and New York Democrats’ refusal to recognize the right to bear arms. It can’t happen quickly enough as far as I’m concerned, because every day that these laws remain on the books the fundamental rights of New Yorkers are being violated. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait too long before these county legislators take their opposition from their chambers to the courthouse.. and that justice will soon be done.