POTSDAM - Will Gray attended a Potsdam Village Board meeting Monday night for the third time in an attempt to convince the village board to pass a resolution opposing the SAFE Act, but if Potsdam Mayor Steven W. Yugartis has his way Mr. Grays third visit will be his last to speak on the issue.
Prior to speaking at the meeting, Mr. Gray was told that his comments on the recently enacted gun control legislation would have a two minute time limit.
Im going to give you two minutes tonight and ask that this be the last time you come before the board speaking on the same issue, Mr. Yugartis said.
Mr. Gray then shared quotes from several sheriffs from around the state.
The SAFE Act is a knee-jerk reaction. Nobody is safer, this hurts returning veterans, increases our workload and is a great burden, he said, quoting Lewis County Sheriff Mike Carpinelli.
Quoting Oswego County Sheriff Ruel Todd, he said, Constant rule changes make it hard to enforce. Sheriffs werent given directions.
He then quotes St. Lawrence County Sheriff Kevin Wells and said, Restrictions on magazine capacities make no sense at all and wont make St. Lawrence County any safer.
Mr. Gray then shared some statistics from around the nation that he feels shows why gun control legislation is an ineffective tool against crime.
We keep hearing that more guns automatically lead to higher crime rates. But that theory is getting blasted by reality. The latest example comes from Virginia, he said. The Richmond Times-Dispatch studied sales of firearms in the state. They found that sales of guns through licensed dealers rose 16 percent in 2012, and yet, during that same period, major crimes committed with guns dropped by 5 percent.
Mr. Gray said he has a theory on the statistics.
Criminals really dont want to get shot. When you pass strict gun control laws, you take the fear of getting shot away and criminals tend to flourish, he said. Just look at what is going on in America today. The places with the highest crime rates are the major cities where strict gun control laws have been passed.
Before being told that his time had expired, Mr. Gray also referred to a study from Harvard that he said foun, the more guns a nation has, the less crime it tends to have.
After being told that his time was up, Mr. Gray asked how much time he would have to speak at next months meeting.
Next month I will not recognize you, Mr. Yugartis said.
Following the meeting, Mr. Yugartis said limiting citizens comment isnt something the village board usually does.
We only do it when it becomes redundant. We feel we have answered his questions, Mr. Yugartis said.
Village Trustee Ruth Garner said even if the board wanted to help Mr. Gray there isnt anything they can do.
We dont have the jurisdiction, she said. He needs to go some other place.
Mr. Yugartis said hes explained to Mr. Gray before that state legislation is beyond their jurisdiction.
Ive explained to Mr. Gray that village board members werent elected to represent village residents opinions on gay rights, gun control and abortion, he said. Im reluctant to overstep those bounds.
Mr. Yugartis said he admires Mr. Gray for his efforts, but simply put hes bringing his argument to the wrong people.
Ive asked Mr. Gray to take his principle arguments, which I admire, to his state representatives, he said.
Following the meeting, Mr. Gray said he was surprised that he was given a two minute time limit, noting hes been at board meetings all over the county and even attended some meetings where time limits were in effect, but he said hes never been given a limit of only two minutes.
Its usually five minutes, he said, adding that after last months meeting Mr. Yugartis told him that should he attend this months meeting he wouldnt be allowed to speak.
I think he was kind of put on the spot, Mr. Gray said, adding that conversation took place in private following the meeting.
I have never been treated at any town or village meeting the way Ive been treated there, he said.
As for his plans on Sept. 16 when the village board meets again, Mr. Gray said hes planning on attending that meeting and asking the same question hes been asking for three months.
Many other towns and villages have done so (pass a resolution in opposition to the SAFE act), why cant they? he asked.