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St. Lawrence County legislators reject use of county seal for New York SAFE Act

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CANTON — Approximately three dozen opponents of the New York SAFE Act came out in force Monday to ensure that the St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators passed a resolution denying the state authorization to use its seal on paperwork related to the law and to call for its repeal.

“Probably a lot of people are tired of hearing about it,” said Joseph J. Russell, owner of Hilltop Hunting, Morley. “I’m one of them.”

Mr. Russell said the state’s Legislature’s passage of the act is driving business away, including a decision by Remington Arms, which has a plant in Ilion, to expand into Alabama.

“I’d like that here,” Mr. Russell said. “For the last eight months, running a small business has been utterly miserable.”

Mr. Russell said he was unhappy with the county board’s anemic response when the state law was first passed, which stopped short of calling for its repeal.

“I was kind of disgusted,” he said. “You folks have the opportunity to do what you should have done in the first place.”

After several amendments to their resolution to strengthen it, county legislators unanimously agreed to request repeal of the act and to not allow the county seal be used in association with the law’s provisions.

Legislators agreed to remove a clause in the resolution that expressed appreciation of the state’s attempt to deal with issues of firearm safety even though the SAFE Act would not accomplish the goal.

The act was not meant to improve safety, Legislator Joseph R. Lightfoot, R-Ogdensburg, said.

“This is an attempt to take a right we have in our Constitution and water it down,” he said. “Everybody in here wants it repealed.”

Legislator Vernon D. “Sam” Burns, D-Ogdensburg, said he had originally included the language because he thought state lawmakers were reacting to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

“I felt a lot of people were upset with what happened in Connecticut, and they wanted to do something,” he said. “They didn’t do it probably the right way.”

If others felt the words weakened the county’s resolution, Mr. Burns said he had no objection to their removal.

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