Hudson Valley gun advocates say Cuomo's proposal won't prevent future tragedies

From left; Jamal Allen, 31, of Chappaqua; Phil

From left; Jamal Allen, 31, of Chappaqua; Phil McGovern, 54, of Croton-on-Hudson; and Liz Donoghue, 19, of Yonkers, talk about their views on gun control after Gov. Cuomo expressed his goals to change gun laws during the State of the Sate. (Jan. 9, 2013) (Credit: Elizabeth Daza)

Although some Hudson Valley residents lauded Gov. Andrew Cuomo's call for tough gun laws Wednesday, gun rights advocates said they feared the proposals showed a rush to implement legislation based on emotion.

Cuomo, who was unusually animated and passionate while delivering his State of the State speech, said he wants New York to set an example for the rest of the country with tough gun control legislation.

The governor called for more penalties for people caught with illegal guns, and a reworded assault weapons ban that eliminates perceived loopholes. He also said that gun sales among private owners should be subject to the same regulations and background checks as retail gun sales.

"It's a knee-jerk reaction to a situation, and he's only hurting the law-abiding citizens," said Mike Timlin, an instructor at the Gold Shield Training Center in Mount Vernon, which provides training and equipment to security professionals.

Harold "Budd" Schroeder, chairman of New York's Shooters Committee on Political Education, a gun rights advocacy group, was among those who shrugged off Cuomo's proposals, calling them unrealistic.

Schroeder pointed out that an assault weapons ban already exists in the state and said Section 265 of the state's penal lawbook features "23 pages of firearms and deadly weapons laws."

Schroeder said the call for additional laws in the state is political bluster.

"How that cuts down on violent crime, I don't know," he said.

Tom Sanfratello, owner of gun shop Collectible Arms in Nanuet, said Cuomo and other politicians have taken an opportunistic stance that won't prevent future tragedies like the shootings in Newtown, Conn.

"They can't take guns away from bad guys," Sanfratello said. "They can only take them away from good guys."

Meanwhile, other Hudson Valley residents are in full support of Cuomo's proposals.

"There can be no halfway measures in this regard," said Westchester County Legis. Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers). "Gov. Cuomo's strong call for new gun control measures will have a lasting impact on life in New York, and I will do everything possible to aid him in his efforts to vanquish gun violence here."

Sanford Lewis, 60, of Mahopac, said he wants to see laws with "consistency, so that rifles and handguns are treated the same way," along with more robust mental health screening for gun permit applicants.

Under Cuomo's proposal, if a mental health professional believes a gun owner is mentally unstable and could hurt himself or others, that professional must report his or her concerns to law enforcement. Cops then would take the guns away from the person deemed unstable.

Improved background checks and mental health screening "seem reasonable as general propositions," said Putnam County Sheriff Donald B. Smith, who is a retired Army general.

Smith cautioned, however, against forming an opinion of the governor's proposals until Cuomo provides details.

"With respect to outright bans on certain guns and high-capacity magazines, the factual evidence for the effectiveness of such bans is not clear," Smith said.

 

Staff writer Elizabeth Daza contributed to this story.

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