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Rockland County Executive Candidates on Gun Control

Last week Albany passed new gun control legislation and the White House announced proposals for tougher federal laws. How do the four candidates running for Rockland County Executive view the gun control debate? We asked each candidate to share their point of view.

Ed Day

Rockland County Legislator (R)

Speaking to the local levels of government, there certainly would not be any debate surrounding the edges of the 2nd amendment and where it would begin and end, but certainly recent events charge leaders to consider issues affecting public safety issues and the rights of law abiding citizens.

My perspective is professional and personal rather than political. As a law enforcement professional who has seen the human pain and suffering caused by gun violence up close and personal, I join every clear thinking individual who shares the same concerns we all have. My background as a school safety consultant and PTA Health and Safety chairman provides a unique viewpoint as we weigh the impact of the horrific tragedy in Newtown.

The one true aspect of the debate is clear and incontrovertible in my view: there must be a comprehensive, broad, and across the board approach to violence, particularly the root causes of gun violence. That will take hard work, fortitude, and an ability to set aside biases – all things, I should add, normally found lacking in politicians, many of whom will deal in sound bites that will sound good yet accomplish little.

We must acknowledge that a perfect world, bereft of all violence and the means to cause it, is simply not a realistic goal, no matter how much we wish it was. We cannot expect that those who inflict horrible cruelties upon their fellow citizens will suddenly become law abiding and genteel.

Gun control laws must be balanced to ensure that our honest, law abiding citizens have a fair opportunity to have reasonable means to protect themselves against those who will never obey any law ‘€“ gun or otherwise. Recognize that the police cannot be everywhere at all times, especially in some of the rural parts of our country. Read More

David Fried

Former County Legislator and Spring Valley Justice (D)

Common sense says answers must be found on the issue of gun violence; that the status quo is unacceptable. In years past, before partisanship gained its stranglehold on public discourse and debate, consensus could be found ‘€“ evidenced by the broad support enjoyed by the Brady Bill and Assault Weapons Ban. President Ronald Reagan, himself a victim of gun violence, was a vocal supporter of both bills.

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Knowing what I know, having seen what I have seen, I understand that we must do something now. As a judge, I have witnessed families torn apart by gun violence and watched career criminals and first time offenders attempt to abuse a system full of holes and antiquated priorities. We need a real investment in mental health, providing help and hope to those in need of both.

I agree with the US Supreme Court that an individual has the right to bear arms. However, reasonable regulations and restrictions are constitutional. As a former criminal court judge, I am also a responsible gun owner. I have completed extensive safety training courses and undertaken proper precautions in my home. I do not believe that universal background checks, prohibiting the commercial sale and possession of certain weapons and accessories, and requiring registration and training infringe on the Second Amendment.

This is not an issue that can be solved by a single piece of legislation. Current gun laws need enforcement, mental health laws must be strengthened, and penalties for illegal gun possession and use should be extremely severe. As this national conversation on gun violence continues, one that we desperately need, all sides need to be aware of the passions this issue inspires, along with the ramifications of inaction. Thirty-two people will die today from guns and many more will be wounded. We can and must do better.

Dagan LaCorte

Mayor of Suffern, NY (D)

As a progressive Democrat, I support sensible measures to end gun violence, including an absolute assault weapons ban. My heart aches for the families of Sandy Hook. As the parents of two young daughters, Stacy and I know how hard it can be to send our kids into the world– and how much we worry for their safety. There is no cause more sacred than protecting our children.

Long before Sandy Hook, I joined Mayors Against Illegal Guns. I strongly endorse the SAFE Act signed into law this week by Governor Cuomo. The NRA is wrong- no New Yorker needs high capacity magazine clips for hunting or for protection. Unlike my opponents, I am not a member of local gun rights groups and I will not accept the endorsement of NRA-affiliated organizations. I oppose confiscation and other intrusions into the homes and privacy of our law abiding, firearms owning neighbors; the Journal News map was offensive. We also need a national Marshall Plan for accessible, affordable mental health treatment.

Ilan Schoenberger

Rockland County Legislator (D)

In a country founded upon individual freedoms, we must balance the right to bear arms with the safety of the public from harm that weapons can inflict by criminals and those who are mentally ill.

As early as April of 2000, I introduced legislation in the Rockland County Legislature to create a trigger lock safety program, aimed at preventing accidental death or injury caused by handguns. In the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy and working in conjunction with our Sheriff Lou Falco and our County Clerk Paul Piperato, I again introduced a program to provide for the distribution of free cable locks, a device which will prevent live ammunition from loading into firearms, handguns and rifles by blocking the chamber.

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I do not agree with the NRA solution to place a police officer in every school.

The recent state legislation, since it will not prevent the flow of illegal guns into New York State, puts further restrictions on law-abiding New Yorkers. As long as weapons can be purchased through the Internet or over the counter in other states and then brought back to New York, I am concerned that the recent state legislation will have limited effect. Meaningful legislation to address this issue must be done comprehensively on a federal level.

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