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Niagara lawmakers oppose federal regulations outlawing a type of hunting bullet

LOCKPORT – The Niagara County Legislature voted unanimously last week to send a message to Washington that a proposal to outlaw a particular type of rifle bullet often used in hunting or target shooting is not acceptable.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is proposing to outlaw the M855 bullet, a .223-caliber projectile used in many bolt-action and autoloading sport rifles.

Legislator John Syracuse, R-Newfane, who has introduced numerous anti-gun control resolutions in the County Legislature, said the ATF proposal is “nothing more than a back door to gun control.”

The ATF is proposing to reclassify the rifle round as a handgun bullet became it can be used in one particular type of large pistol. The round, like almost all rifle ammunition, also can penetrate the typical police bulletproof vest. Those characteristics could bring the M855 under the purview of existing legislation that tries to control street crime committed with handguns.

The National Rifle Association has mobilized its forces on the issue, and a majority of the House of Representatives has signed a letter opposing the ATF plan.

Also at last week’s Legislature meeting:

• A Democratic resolution to change the public speaking format at meetings was sent to committee. Minority Leader Dennis F. Virtuoso, D-Niagara Falls, predicted before last week’s session that the Republican majority probably would kill the proposal there.

The resolution would move public speaking about issues not on the night’s agenda back near the start of the meeting. In 2009, the Republican majority passed a measure moving such comments to the end of the meeting, meaning that anyone who wanted to address the Legislature on a general topic had to sit through the Legislature’s typical two-hour-plus meeting to do so.

Public speaking in the final time slot has dwindled, and the former cadre of “gadflies” that used to attend Legislature meetings no longer does so.

• Also sent to committee were two proposals for use of the county’s Seneca Niagara Casino revenue: $5,000 for the Niagara Military Affairs Council, which works on behalf of keeping the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station open, and $2,000 for the North Tonawanda History Museum. Legislator Jason A. Zona, D-Niagara Falls, is sponsoring the NIMAC money, while the latter resolution was introduced by Richard L. Andres and Randy R. Bradt, both R-North Tonawanda, and Kathryn L. Lance, R-Wheatfield.

• The Legislature passed an amendment to the county administrative code that created a new Buildings and Grounds Department, separate from the Public Works Department, and gave County Manager Jeffrey M. Glatz the authority to appoint a director for Legislature confirmation.

The amendment also changed the name of the Legislature’s Public Works Committee to the Infrastructure and Facilities Committee.

• Mark Cerrone Inc. was awarded a $782,340 contract for the replacement of the Youngstown-Wilson Road Bridge over Six Mile Creek in Porter, while NFP & Sons of Wheatfield was hired for $29,325 for work to improve drivers’ sight lines at the intersection of Brayley and Ransomville roads, also in Porter.