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Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York
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Local government, law enforcement officials divided on gun-control bill

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MASSENA - The wide-range of New York’s package of proposed gun-control legislation have drawn mixed feelings from local law enforcement and government officials.

Massena Police Chief Timmy J. Currier commended the legislation for aiming to keep deadly weapons out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. He said Massena Village Police have faced several instances of individuals with mental illnesses possesing high-caliber weapons with high-capacity magazines, which they addressed without anyone being hurt.

“Sensible legislation that keeps weapons out of the hands of criminals, the mentally ill, and (also) protects Second Ammendment rights makes a great deal of sense,” Mr. Currier said. “Keeping military-style weapons off our streets benefits us all.”

Mark Billings, president of the Massena Rod & Gun Club, said he “didn’t know” whether the proposed ban on assault weapons was justifiable in curbing gun violence or an infringement on the Second Amendment. He noted he didn’t own one, but maintained that it “comes down to the person operating that weapon.”

Mr. Currier also supports the closing of the private-sale loophole, which allowed a convicted felon to purchase a rifle that he used to kill two firefighters in Webster late last year.

However, there are some aspects of the legislation that Mr. Currier believes go too far and infringe on the rights of law-abiding gun owners.

“New York has some of the toughest gun-laws in the nation, and ... some (aspects of the legislation) goes further than what some people would have expected,” Mr. Currier said.

Among Mr. Currier’s concerns were aspects of the legislation that would limit magazines to seven rounds and a proposed requirement for background checks on all ammunition purchases.

Both regulations are of great concern to Richard Jones, owner of North Woods Outfitters, Potsdam.

Mr. Jones called background checks on ammunition purchases “ludicrous” and said his store’s information system couldn’t handle any additional background checks.

“The day before deer hunting season I have 80 to 100 people in (my store) buying ammunition, and I’m just a small shop,” Mr. Jones said. “If I have to do background checks on all purchases, can you imagine?”

Mr. Billings thinks background checks on ammunition won’t accomplish what lawmakers intend. “If you look at what they say they want it to achieve - as far as shootings - ammunition checks are not going to achieve that,” he said.

The new magazine-size limit has many gun -owners and dealers baffled. The law mandates that anyone owning clips containing more than seven rounds must sell them out of state within a year or risk a misdemeanor charge.

Mr. Jones noted that a low-power, .22 caliber rifle widely used since the 1960s carries a standard 10-round magazine, and that seven-rounds magazines are unusual for some firearms.

“I’ve never heard of a gun that fires a seven-round magazine,” he said.

Mr. Billings would also like to see more discussion on the issue before legislation that could limit Second Amendment rights is passed. “I think (gun control) has become a very emotional issue, but without having discussion they shouldn’t be trying to push through legislation,” he said.

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