At last evening's Laws and Rules Committee meeting, council members (there are five that include ward 1 alderwoman Lynn Eckert who is committee chair, ward 5 alderman and majority leader Bill Carey, ward 9 alderwoman and minority leader Deb Brown, ward 3 alderman Rennie Scott-Childress and ward 7 alderwoman Maryann Mills) had a full slate of issues to discuss. One of which that we have been closely following is amending the current City of Kingston Firearms law.
The effort, having come about due to a proposal to place a shooting range and gun shop on Prince Street in Midtown, Kingston, has been a contentious one and the public has worked over many months to share their points of view and research to be placed on record during public comment opportunities. The result of which made the case for the current Firearms Law to be sent back to committee where it belongs, above and beyond anything else, so that council members are certain to get amendments right by a thorough vetting process.
At the onset, it was noted that a packet of 'model laws' had been sent to committee members in advance by Corporation Council Dan Gartenstein. Ward 3 alderman Rennie Scott-Childress said that after reviewing them all, he found the City of Rochester's Firearms Law to be the best written law to consider, and suggests that it be used as the model for their efforts.
Maryann Mills states that the models are just a "stall tactic".
When a motion is made for Rochester's law to be used as a model, it is rejected by the committee majority (Deb Brown, Maryann Mills and Bill Carey) now moving out of committee to the council with a negative recommendation.
Later, Deb Brown's amended text that she crafted, and that would allow indoor shooting ranges in Kingston, was brought back up and this time, included new language suggested by Maryann Mills to include more detail of the State of New York's Penal Law (perhaps in response to the Veteran's concerns).
What we learned, last night based on Corporation Council Dan Gartenstein's interpretation of the penal law was that the Veteran's memorial services and any of the current reenactments were never in jeopardy. The law apparently had always allowed it. Please view for more detail: Video 2, starts at: 29:55
Before having the chance to look through any of the materials that had been submitted for discussion, a motion to move the amended law written by Deb Brown and Maryann Mills out of the Laws and Rules committee took place (supported by Bill Carey, who had also supported a thorough process shortly before). Deb Brown, Maryann Mills and Bill Carey not only rejected the potential model, they also passed through a completely un-vetted Firearms Law, again. It now moves out of committee, and onto the council with a positive recommendation.
We appreciate citizen participation, and know how hard the public has worked on this. It is with regret that we must relay that we are all made to ask for a third time that the Firearms Law be sent back to committee where it never should have left in the first place until the law has been given the opportunity to be properly vetted.
That the Kingston Common Council at caucus (Monday, June 6) and their monthly meeting (Tuesday, June 7) request that the Kingston Firearms Law be sent back to the Laws and Rules Committee for a thorough vetting process.
WHO TO CALL (Please feel free to call all council members if you'd like. Here are key members for next month's discussion)
A recent submission from Kingston City resident Neil B. Millens
10:53 Deb Brown and Maryann Mills discuss their amended text.
12:56 A packet of models are introduced.
13:22 Ward 3 Alderman Rennie Scott-Childress feels the City of Rochester is the best model from the package presented by Corporation Council Dan Gartenstein. Deb Brown and Maryann Mills states that they haven't seen it, and accuse models as being 'stall tactics'.
15:32 Maryann Mills "I like what Deb wrote and how I amended it. What is it about Rochester's law that you like better?"
15:42 Rennie Scott-Childress "It's clearly researched. It better matches our comprehensive plan..." etc.
17:52 Maryann Mills notes Dr. Soyer's lawyer, who wrote a letter to the council, that she says mirrors what is in the Rochester Law. She believes that it's all addressed in his information. Rennie clarifies and says 'but none of it is in the city of Kingston's law".
23:05 Mention of a communication from the Board of Education on the safety zone for guns. The school board says it went out to the entire council, and states that the ATF did not do proper measurements.
24:36 Dr. Soyer explains that he (ATF) provides a flyer to municipalities, but (the ATF) doesn't take measurements, and there is no mechanism to do that." The federal law does not prohibit private property from engaging in business and that the 1000 foot requirement doesn't apply. He's never seen anything about a 'safe zone' before. He hasn't seen a sign, doesn't know what the distance is, etc.
27:07 Corporation Council Dan Gartenstein states 'strongly' that this is a discussion about the law, and not Dr. Soyer's Safe Shoot. It's problematic to be talking about amending a statute to accommodate or defeat a specific proposal that is in front of the planning board.
28:18 Bill Carey states that the safe zone has nothing to do with the business.
29:55 Dan Gartenstein states that 'Veterans shooting blanks out of rifles are not firing rifles. If there are no bullets, you're not discharging a gun."
30:52 Board of Education (BOE) president Nora Scherer points out that they mapped out the distance between the Prince Street location and Kingston High School on Google maps, which is what the ATF would have done as well. The Gun Free School Zone Act was not enacted when the law was originally written. In terms of legislation, how the act may be interpreted.
31:55 James Shaugnessy from the BOE adds that he has concerns of what Dr. Soyer saying being true. You're talking about around the shooting range, that he doesn't feel this should be allowed within the school zone, and states a statistic. The common council has a shared responsibility with the BOE that the children are safe before, during and after school hours.
33:52 Maryann suggests to move forward, to include Penal Law in its entirety.
35:40 Motion to add the Penal Law into the amended text.
50:29 Maryann asks about the Business Park, and notes JFK school (but what she is not understanding is that the location is more than 1000 feet away from the school). She states to push a business out of Kingston is absurd. We need whatever revenue we can get. "This is safe. I have researched it myself."
52:35 Rennie sees it oppositely. That amending the law encourages opportunity. If we are going to choose to have a shooting range, we should be careful. We want the right business, and that's what the comprehensive plan is all about.
00:00 Rennie speaks about the importance of diversity in business in response to questions prior to in the last video.
2:30 Bill Carey says he's a no vote on the Rochester law, but it doesn't mean he's against it.
3:58 Ward 8 alderman Steve Schabot endorses a model to help to make the law clear.
5:05 Restates a motion to adopt the City of Rochester Firearms Law. Lynn Eckert and Rennie Scott-Childress are yes votes. Bill Carey, Maryann Mills, Deb Brown oppose. The resolution moves out of committee and onto the council with a negative recommendation.
5:44 A motion is made to pass through committee Deb Brown's amended text with Maryann Mill's changes. Lynn states "..is that right, that the law you wrote that was already sent back is what we are voting on now"
8:06 Maryann clarifies that the amendment that Deb Brown wrote now includes the penal law. Dan Gartenstein states what Maryann is speaking of is Section 7B and gives an explanation about discharging vs. possession.
13:30 Corporation Council Dan Gartenstein clarifies the law in the way that it may impact the Veterans, and he states clearly that it does not.
24:22 Dan Gartenstein reads text of the new amended law. A vote is called. Lynn Ekert and Rennie Scott-Childress are opposed. Deb Brown, Maryann Mills and Bill Carey are in favor. Deb Brown's text with Maryann Mill's changes is passed out of committee and on to the council in June with a positive recommendation.