Shandaken residents blast town gun policy
By Jay Braman Jr.
An anti-gun control resolution brought forward by Town of Shandaken Councilman Vincent Bernstein Monday received suppressing fire from residents who insisted the language in the resolution did not reflect the sentiments of the townsfolk.
Regardless, the measure was passed anyway, despite an almost unanimous cry against it.
Word spread quickly over the Internet on Friday when the resolution was put up on the town’s website. Using Facebook and other locations, residents opposing the measure urged like-minded individuals to appear at the Monday night meeting and voice opposition.
One speaker in favor
Of the many speakers who took turns at the microphone, and the many e-mails that were sent to the town to be read aloud, only one person, a former gun shop owner, spoke in favor of the measure, which is called a “resolution in support of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.”
Following several “whereas” statements about the right of the people to keep and bear arms, the measure claims that “legislation passed by the New York State Assembly and Senate infringes on the right to keep and bear arms and would ban the possession and use of firearms now employed by individual citizens of the Town of Shandaken for defense of life, liberty and property and would ban the possession and use of firearms now employed for safe forms of firearms recreation, hunting and shooting within the town…”
It continued on to resolve that, “the Town Board of the Town of Shandaken does hereby oppose the enactment of any legislation that would infringe upon the right of the people to keep and bear arms and consider such laws to be unnecessary and beyond lawful legislative authority granted to our state representatives, as there is no documented correlation between gun control measures and crime reduction.”
The tone of the debate was set early on when Supervisor Rob Stanley, who was sick and unable to attend the meeting, had an email read aloud be Town Clerk Joyce Grant urging the rest of the board to table the resolution. Stanley wrote that this matter is better handled by higher levels of government.
But calling the matter a “tyranny of government issue,” Bernstein refused to withdraw it.
One at time, several residents spoke in civil tones urging the board to reconsider.
Vote it down
Phoenicia resident Robert Burke Warren asked the board to, “be on the right side of history” and vote the resolution down.
“It does not speak for me or my family,” he added.
Mary Beth Mills, owner of the Peekamoose Restaurant in Big Indian, said that the state’s new gun laws do not hurt gun owners. She also said that Bernstein’s resolution “does not support me or the town.”
Phoenicia resident Nick Alba warned that passing the measure might be more harmful than anyone knows. “Supporting this resolution can conceivably result in violent death,” he said.
Chichester resident Brian Powers called it “personally offensive” that the board was even entertaining the resolution. A gun owner, Powers noted that over 3,000 people live in town and there is no way the resolution represented the collective will of those people.
“I don’t think it’s our business to talk about this,” he said, adding that it is similar to a local government weighing in on the abortion issue.
But in the end the resolution was brought to a vote, despite board member Doris Bartlett’s last minute plea to Bernstein to table it.
The motion carried with Bernstein, Jack Jordan and Alfie Higley in support. Bartlett voted against.
The resolution has no actual power. It only expresses the opinion of the town board. The town clerk was instructed to send a certified copy of the resolution to state and federal representatives.