LOCKPORT – The state’s SAFE Act was a featured topic at Tuesday’s meeting of the Niagara County Legislature as lawmakers declined to exempt retired police officers from it, and opposed the use of the county seal in implementing some of its provisions.
The Legislature passed a resolution opposing the state’s use of the county seal on the certificates for the five-year pistol permit renewals required under the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act. Also barred from SAFE Act use was the seal of the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office.
Legislator John Syracuse, R-Newfane, who co-sponsored the measure with Majority Leader Richard E. Updegrove, R-Lockport, and Legislator Paul B. Wojtaszek, R-North Tonawanda, said Cattaraugus County and the state County Clerk Association have passed resolutions decrying the use of county seals on the renewals, which are the result of State Police background checks mandated by the SAFE Act.
Permit applications are still reviewed by the county pistol permit office, Syracuse said. He noted that the County Legislature unanimously passed a resolution Feb. 19 calling for repeal of the SAFE Act. “I don’t want to have this misconstrued, that we’re in any way taking part in the implementation of the SAFE Act,” Syracuse said.
Sheriff James R. Voutour said he doesn’t want his office’s logo used on any state website or printed material about the SAFE Act.
The Legislature passed a resolution for local implementation of a federal law that lets retired police officers carry concealed firearms as long as they can qualify by passing the same weapons test active officers must take every year.
However, the county altered the terms by applying it only to retired sheriff’s deputies and requiring them to hold valid state pistol permits and declaring that all the retirees “will be subject to all provisions of the New York State SAFE Act.”
Gordon F. Botting Jr., vice chairman of the Niagara County chapter of the Shooters Committee for Political Education, said during the public comment period that his group opposes “any special privileges or carve-outs” for retired law enforcement officers. “Why are they any different from us when we retire?” Botting asked in an interview. “We all have carry permits and have to renew them.”
Syracuse said the county resolution “does not carve out anything special” for retired deputies. However, he said, the county must respond to a 2004 federal law that allows retired police officers to carry guns across state lines.
Also Tuesday, the Legislature:
• Distributed $1.5 million in mortgage tax receipts to cities, towns and villages, a 24 percent increase over a year ago.
• Allowed the Sewer District to spend $472,700 on emergency repairs to pumps and a deteriorating steel floor at its plant at Mapleton and Lockport roads in Wheatfield.
• Approved a five-year contract for state reimbursement for cleaning expenses at the courthouse in Lockport, the Angelo DelSignore Civic Building in Niagara Falls, and the records storage buildings in Lockport. The state is expected to pay the county more than $520,000 a year for the services.