February 15, 2013

Standing up to the gun lobby

It may not sound like much of a bold move, but the Westchester County Board of Legislators approved a resolution in a bipartisan and unanimous fashion tonight requesting that federal leaders enact stronger measures to prevent further gun violence. The resolution, which was voted on at Monday’s regular meeting of the board of legislators, is among the many governmental responses nationwide to the back-to-back tragedies in Newtown, Conn. and upstate Webster, involving senseless shootings and the murders of innocent people.

The board of legislators’ resolution was drafted by Majority Leader Pete Harckham (D-Katonah) and Minority Leader Jim Maisano (R-New Rochelle) before receiving initial approval by the legislation committee, chaired by Legislator Bill Ryan (D-White Plains).

The resolution explicitly supports greater federal gun control measures, including mandated universal background checks on all gun sales, lifting database restrictions to allow local law enforcement officers access to Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives information, and increased sentencing penalties for criminals convicted of using firearms during violent crimes.

It was a little more than a decade ago that an organized group of gun owners came to Katonah to protest limits on gun ownership in Westchester. More recently, in New York and around the country, gun owners have tried to intimidate those who oppose them by references to “Nazi Germany” and “North Korea.”

It is hard to believe that in November Greg Ball, who represents Pound Ridge, North Salem, Lewisboro and Putnam County in the State Senate, was praising Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his administration for their budget and financial management policies.

What has changed since then is the tragedy at Newtown and its focus on gun violence. In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Mr. Ball has reverted to the reactionary blowhard we knew in years past and had hoped vanished from the scene — replete with his references to Mr. Cuomo’s “gun grab,” “elitist eggheads” and “coddling terrorists.”

Under Mr. Cuomo’s SAFE Act, New York will be the first state in the nation to ban any magazine that can hold more than seven rounds, and run instant background checks on all ammunition purchases at the time of sale. The legislation will allow authorities to track ammunition purchases in real time to alert law enforcement to high-volume buys and will include a statewide standard requiring recertification of pistol permits every five years. The legislation also closes a private sale loophole to ensure all gun purchases are subject to a background check, and toughens criminal penalties on those who use illegal guns.

Mr. Ball and some legislators, including 94th District Assemblyman Steve Katz in Yorktown, have focused on blocking commonsense and accessible tools for stopping senseless gun violence.

This week, sadly on Lincoln’s birthday, Feb. 12, Mr. Ball chose to rally at a Sportsmen Rights Rally and Lobby Day in Albany to stop “the further erosion of rights” of gun owners. To use the great emancipator’s birthdate as an opportunity for promoting gun rights is either completely tone deaf or else utterly cynical; the Civil War tore apart our country as no war has before or since.

Perhaps now that “elitist” Bedford has been separated from Mr. Ball’s realm by electoral redistricting, he no longer feels the need to keep his pejoratives in check.

Certainly Mr. Ball is not alone in his sentiments; he is joined by a chorus of voices who want to use gun politics as a political cudgel. No wonder he is a regular on the Fox News network these days; Mr. Ball hopes to ride the national arms debate onto the national stage.

In a totalitarian society, he who is armed fullest holds the greatest power. In a democracy, well-trained, disciplined armed forces and responsible public safety officers protect the well-being of the citizenry through professional conduct, and use force only as a last resort.


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The official newspaper of the towns of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York

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NEWSSTAND LOCATIONS

Pound Ridge/Scotts Corners

  1. Scotts Corner Market – Trinity Corners Shopping Center;  55 Westchester Avenue

  2. Pound Ridge Sunoco — 66 Westchester Avenue    

  3. Sam Parker Country Market — 257 Westchester Avenue    


Bedford Village

  1. Bedford Rexall Pharmacy — Hunting Ridge Mall; 424 Old Post Road  

  2. Village Green Deli — Village Green; Routes 22 and 172    

  3. Bedford Shell — Routes 22 and 172 (at blinking light); 848 So. Bedford Road

  4. Village Service Center —193 Pound Ridge Road (at Long Ridge Road intersection)    


Bedford Hills

  1. Bedford Hills Deli – 7 Babbitt Road    

  2. Bueti’s Deli – 526 Bedford Road (Route 117)


Katonah

  1. NoKA Joe’s – 25 Katonah Avenue    

  2. Steger’s Paper Mill – 89 Katonah Avenue    

  3. Katonah Pharmacy – Katonah Shopping Center; 294 Katonah Avenue   

  4. Bagel Shoppe – Katonah Shopping Center; 280 Katonah Avenue    

  5. Katonah Sunoco – 105 Bedford Road


Mount Kisco

  1. Teamo/Mt. Kisco News – 239 Main Street    


Cross River

  1. Bagel Boys Café – Cross River Shopping Center; Routes 121 and 35    

  2. Cross River Shell Station – Route 35    

  3. Cameron’s Deli –  890 Route 35    

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