Strong opposition to proposal to register ammo; 200 attend

Section: Main,  Page: A1

Date: Wednesday, May 27, 2009

ALBANY -- Some 200 people jammed into the County Legislature chambers Tuesday night, nearly all to send a message to legislators that a proposed law requiring gun shops to register ammunition sales won't stop crime but could halt re-election bids.

"The people of your towns, villages and cities are fed up with politics as usual, taxes and politicians who don't listen ...," said Tom King, president of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association and an NRA board member, to thunderous applause. "Thank you for pushing a ludicrous gun control issue that has finally helped me rally gun owners."

King estimated there are "35,000 voters in this county who are motivated gun owners."

Local Law A is one of the most controversial pieces of legislation to come before the 39-member legislature in some time. All but a handful of the nearly 50 speakers at the public hearing turned a thumbs down on the measure.

No action was taken on the proposal which is before the legislature's Law Committee and will be voted out of committee before the June 8 meeting of the full body.

Introduced at the March meeting the law would regulate the storage, possession and sale of ammunition and require dealers to record each ammo sale and the caliber, make and model of the firearm for which the ammo purchase was made.

Wanda Willingham, an Albany Democrat and one of the sponsors said before the hearing, that the law would be "a start in regards to saving lives." Other states have similar laws on ammunition licensing, she said.

"We finally stood up and got the nerve to move forward on an issue that affects many communities, and we finally caught up with the rest of the nation," Willingham said.

Democrats Phillip Steck of Colonie and Douglas Bullock of Albany are also sponsors. Steck said the measure is an "effort to enforce an existing law and make sure it's complied with," referring to a state law governing ammunition sales.

Before the hearing, protestors walked with signs in front of the Albany County Courthouse where the legislature chambers are, but they were not allowed to carry the signs into the courthouse.

At the hearing were Albany Common Council President Shawn Morris and Council member Barbara Smith.

Thomas Chandler of Guilderland accused legislators of using the law as a "cheap way to exploit bigotry ... and stereotypes against the Second Amendment community."

Bill Hart of Troy called it a feel-good law. "It's as effective in stopping crime as a stop watch is in stopping time."

Roger Barchitta of Colonie said it's "back door registration. This is not solely about handgun ammunition. It's about ammunition for all different types of weapons."

Carol DeMare can be reached at 454-5431 or by e-mail at cdemare@timesunion.com.


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