In a decision held from its July meeting, the Board of Supervisors voted 15 to 1 in favor of Local Law No. 4 (Introductory D. Year 2017) – 2017 at the supervisors meeting Tuesday in Warsaw.
Local Law No. 4 – A local law amending Local Law No. 11 of the year 1994, entitled “A local law banning possession of weapons in Wyoming County Buildings” as amended by Local Law No. 3 of the year 2013 amends Local Law No. 3 – A local law banning possession of weapons in Wyoming County buildings.
As the law read, no persons may carry a concealed weapon into a county government building with the exception of a police officer or peace officer as defined in the New York State Criminal Procedure Law.
The amendment now includes: A person licensed by New York State Penal law 400(2)(f) to have and carry a concealed weapon may carry a concealed weapon in a building where such carry is not prohibited by Federal or New York State law, rule or regulation – in Section 3: Exclusions, of the 2013 amended law.
However, the vote was cast with one lone dissenter, Town of Warsaw Supervisor Becky Ryan, and the Town of Warsaw houses many of the county’s buildings.
Ryan’s “no” vote comes with concerns of the law’s ambiguity. She says there doesn’t seem to be a source which would allow a legally licensed concealed-carry permit holder to know which county buildings are included or excluded in the amendment.
While Ryan says she wholeheartedly supports the Constitution, especially the Second Amendment, she believes clarification is needed on which county buildings the new law affects.
“I do not want to create a situation that could jeopardize that right that any person legally licensed to have and carry a concealed weapon has,” Ryan said.
According to New York State regulations, the following places are off-limits to concealed-carry permit holders:
• Any facility of the New York Department of Mental Hygiene (hospitals) or any residential facility that has an operating certificate issued by the Department;
• At any facility operated or licensed by the Office of Mental Health of the Department of Mental Hygiene;
• Courthouses (NYS Office of Court Administration) Federal law bans firearms in federal courthouses and U.S. attorney offices except for law enforcement personnel on official business;
• Certain cities and all counties may, under home rule options, ban firearms from their governmental buildings;
• (265.01a) On school grounds which include colleges and universities (exceptions: the forestry lands, wherever located, owned and maintained by the SUNY College of Environmental Science and forestry or on a school bus as defined in section 142 of the V&T law without the written authorization of such education institution)
According to the Department of Environmental Control and NY Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation, firearms are banned on the properties they control except for hunting in season.
Firearms may be possessed on public campgrounds only during the spring and fall hunting seasons.
The federal government’s rules governing conceal carry holders has an even longer off-limits list:
• Federal courthouses;
• Federal buildings;
• Any building owned, leased or rented by the federal government;
• Federal prisons;
• Army Corps of Engineers;
• National cemeteries;
• Military bases;
• Rented offices;
• Post Office;
• Bureau of Land Management;
• Indian reservations
Additionally, the State controls the carrying of firearms in the National Forests in their state.
Ryan wasn’t the only supervisor who had reservations about the amendment.
While she ultimately voted in favor of the new law, Town of Bennington Supervisor Ellen Grant spoke with county employees before making her decision.
“Many residents can go years without stepping into a county building,” Grant said. “But, the employees are the ones who are most affected by the amendment.”
Town of Java Supervisor Vanessa McCormick voted yes as the voice for her constituents and Town of Wethersfield Supervisor John Copeland says it gives employees an opportunity to protect themselves.
However, Warsaw resident and Village Trustee Cindy Appleton, who lost a relative to gun violence, is opposed to the change.
“There hasn’t been enough due diligence to allow for the change in the law. Becky had concerns as to how we know where guns can be carried,” Appleton said. “It should be stated clearly. There was no need to change the law, the law in place had it covered…There has been no gun violence in the county since 2012, what was the need to amend the law? There was no reason.”
To read the entirety of Local Law 11 1994, the amendment to Local Law 11 of 1994 2013, or a copy of the new law, click here.
See related: Amendment may allow guns in county government buildings