Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

December 4, 2013

County lawmakers deal with SAFE Act|

BY JOE OLENICK joe.olenick@lockportjournal.com
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — The Niagara County Legislature continues to oppose New York’s controversial SAFE Act, passing a resolution Tuesday to deny Albany the use of the county seal and Sheriff’s Office logo on related documents and materials.

County lawmakers also unanimously passed a resolution allowing retired Niagara County Sheriff’s officers to carry concealed weapons. That legislation would be in compliance with the federal Law Enforcement Officer’s Safety Act, which passed in 2004 exempting active and retired law enforcement officers from state and local laws barring concealed weapons.

But, county lawmakers adapted the provision by applying it only to the Sheriff’s Office.

Retirees from the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office, with at least 10 years experience, would be exempt from state and local laws barring concealed weapons as long as they undergo yearly certification with the NCSO, which would come at no expense to taxpayers.

That resolution had a detractor, as Newfane resident Gordon F. Botting Sr. said the retirees should not be treated differently from other citizens.

Botting is the vice chairman of the Niagara County chapter of SCOPE, or Shooters Committee for Political Education. The group opposes the SAFE Act, which imposes on the public’s Second Amendment rights to bear arms, Botting said.

”These rights should be made to all, not the few,” Botting said.

The resolution does not carve out anything special for the retirees, said Legislator John Syracuse R-Newfane.

Shortly thereafter, lawmakers made it clear they didn’t want anything to do with the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Act when passing the resolution concerning the county seal.

New York had been using the county seal on certificates for pistol permit renewals. Cattaraugus County and the state County Clerk Association have passed resolutions opposing the use of county seals on the renewals.

”We do not want to be associated with its enforcement,” said Legislator Paul B. Wojtaszek, R- North Tonawanda.

Sheriff James R. Voutour said he didn’t want the office logo used on any state website or document concerning the SAFE Act.

Back on Feb. 19, the legislature unanimously called for the repeal of the SAFE Act.

• In other matters, the Legislature decided to distribute over $1.5 million in mortgage tax money to the towns, villages and cities throughout the county.

The county received over $2.9 million from April 1 to Sept. 30 and gave $678,647 to the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, $669,912 to the State Mortgage Tax Agency and kept $133,033 for county administrative expenses.

The City of Lockport will receive $92,084, while the Town of Lockport will receive $187,046.

Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241 or follow him on Twitter @joeolenick.