LACKAWANNA, N.Y. (WIVB) - In Lackawanna, Democrats and Conservatives went head-to-head Thursday night over the strictest gun control laws in the entire nation.
The pot of contentious issues surrounding New York State's new gun control law hardly needs stirring. It's enough to divide even close friends. That was the case at this debate, between SCOPE's Budd Schroeder and former Erie County Democratic Chairman, Steve Pigeon.
Schroeder said, "[To] tell you the truth, I'm trying to stir the pot on it. I think New York needs a recall and referendum provision."
"I still don't know why anyone needs a military-style assault weapon. I still don't know why anyone needs to shoot off 100 rounds at a time. There is no self-defense reason for that; there is no right-to-bear-arms reason for that," Pigeon said.
Schroeder countered, "'The right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,' and obviously [Governor Andrew Cuomo] hasn't gone through the dictionary to get the proper definition of the term, 'infringed.'"
But Pigeon responded, "Remember, in that original Constitution, it talked about a regulated militia. And Thomas Jefferson, who wrote [the Second] Amendment, said it needed to be looked at every 20 years."
"Only a couple of points" in the NY SAFE Act make sense to Schroeder.
"One of them is that if someone murders a first responder, it should be a Murder I (one) charge. But I also think that anybody that participates in a drive-by shooting that results in a homicide should also have an automatic Murder I charge," Schroeder said.
That shows, Pigeon believes, there's room for gun rights and gun control advocates to work together.
Pigeon said, "Hopefully, maybe, out of this we can find some common ground. Because when I really do talk to a lot of folks, they say, 'Well, yeah. Everybody ought to have a background check. We shouldn't have... these straw sales going on. Why isn't there a federal gun trafficking law when there's a drug trafficking law?"
If there's one point both sides seem to agree on, it's that more action has to be taken on the issue of mental health. Both Schroeder and Pigeon say, it's crucial to preventing events like those in Newtown.
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