WGXC-90.7 FM

Awareness event in Albany shows gun divides

Jan 26, 2011 6:53 am
The Times Union reports this morning, January 26, about how arms enthusiasts and gun-control advocates used an annual gathering of shooting-sports participants at the state Capitol yesterday, January 25, as a backdrop to bolster their arguments. "The fact that, legally, Mr. Loughner could get a gun should give us all great pause," said Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel, D-Great Neck, referring to Jared Loughner, the 22-year-old Tucson man charged in the Jan. 8 shooting spree that left six dead and 13 wounded, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, a Democrat, adding that she hoped participants in the Sportsmen & Outdoor Recreation Legislative Awareness Day would use the event to "focus on advancing sensible legislation that will keep the public safe by preventing guns from getting into the hands of the mentally ill, criminals and terrorists." Gun rights advocates contend what's needed to prevent another Tucson is better enforcement of existing laws rather than micro stamping or other crackdowns. "All they do is wait for a tragedy, pull it off the shelf and talk about it," National Rifle Association Political Affairs Director Chuck Cunningham said before addressing several hundred participants from around the state at the annual sportsmens' event. Cunningham and others said gun rights are actually stronger than they were a year ago, both in New York and nationally.

In New York, Cunningham noted, the state Senate is back under Republican control, meaning that measures such as micro stamping are less likely to pass.

"There's a firewall for freedom in the state Senate to stop something from happening, and they've sent some real reinforcements to Capitol Hill at the federal level," Cunningham said in a radio interview.

He later praised New York congressional delegation members whom he described as pro-gun, including Republicans Chris Gibson of Kinderhook and Ann Marie Buerkle of Syracuse, as well as Democrat Bill Owens of Plattsburgh.

Cunningham criticized New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a staunch gun-control advocate, referring to him several times as "Mayor Blame" and alluding to the trouble he drew after the botched street clearing efforts during last December's historic blizzard.

"He's not after illegal guns. He's after your guns," Cunningham said, adding, "That's a real snow job."

Underlying much of the talk was the debate over micro stamping.

The proposal would force gun makers to inscribe a microscopic identifying number on the firing pin of each handgun they produce. The number would be impressed on each shell casing or cartridge every time a gun is fired.

Supporters such as Schimel, as well as numerous police organizations, say that would create a stamp that could then be used to match spent cartridges or shell casings with a given weapon.

Opponents, though, say micro stamping is unproven technology and it would add to the cost of firearms.

A micro stamping law could even cost jobs, said James Rabbia, plant manager for the Remington firearms company, which has a factory in Ilion, Herkimer County.

Unlike lots of upstate factories, Remington has been expanding lately, adding some 100 jobs to its nearly 200-year-old plant last year. They've gotten a new military contract and have started manufacturing a .45-caliber semi-automatic handgun in Ilion.

Were micro stamping to pass, Rabbia said Remington would simply sell the .45s outside of New York state rather than add the stamping procedure. Or they might pull production out of Ilion. Like Cunningham, Rabbia said, "I think there's less chance this year," of a micro-stamping law becoming reality.

While micro stamping hasn't made it through the Senate, it has come close. Last year, Democrats who controlled the Senate laid the measure aside at the last minute after it became apparent there weren't sufficient votes, as upstate Democrats, who count lots of hunting enthusiast among their constituents, wouldn't support it.

The "no" vote came despite a push by Bloomberg, who is also a top contributor to GOP senators.

This year, Bloomberg's lobbyist Micah Lasher said micro stamping "remains an important priority for the mayor."

Schimel said she is in the micro-stamping fight for the long haul. "I've been at this for 17 years, so I never stop. I'm always optimistic."

Wave Farm / WGXC Acra Contact Info
Mailing: PO Box 13 Acra, NY 12405
Main Office / Acra Studio
(518) 622-2598
WGXC Office
(518) 697-7400
WGXC Hudson Studio
(518) 828-0290
WGXC Feedback
(518) 212-7509 feedback@wgxc.org
Wave Farm / WGXC Acra Studio: 5662 Route 23 Acra, NY 12405
WGXC Hudson Studio: 369 Warren St. Hudson, NY 12534