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Goodell: Dem bill quietly expands gun, ammo limits

Legislation deemed a technical fix to an anti-gun trafficking law is anything but a minor adjustment, according to the region’s state Assembly member.

The state Assembly recently passed A.7555, sponsored by Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy, D-Albany. The bill, according to her legislative justification, amends the state’s General Business Law regarding the sale of firearms and ammunition as a way to deal with the “creation of a public nuisance caused by the sale, manufacturing, distribution, importing, and marketing of firearms.” The bill does that by striking reference to one federal law and adding reference to two other federal laws.

Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown, said doing so violates the state constitution because A.7555 doesn’t include the language of the sections of federal law it references, as is called for by Article 3, Section 16 of the state constitution.

“The reason for that is really simple,” Goodell said. “We ought to know what we’re voting on.”

Goodell argued that not only did most Assembly members not know the federal laws being referenced and didn’t have enough information to vote on A.7555. He also argued the proposal is unconstitutional because it improperly delegates power to the federal government. If the federal government changes the laws referenced in state statute, then state laws are changed – which Goodell said violates the state constitution.

But the Jamestown Republican didn’t rest on constitutional questions in opposition to A.7555. The original 2021 proposal passed by the state Legislature regulated interstate commerce of firearms. Goodell said what the legislature is poised to do is quietly extend those prohibitions to all firearms and ammunition.

“The difference is this – and you would never find it just reading the language,” Goodell said. “The difference is the original statute regulated firearms that have been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce and this technical amendment expands it to include every firearm, even though it was never shipped in interstate commerce and was never involved in foreign commerce. And while the original bill was focused on stopping the iron pipeline, this bill extends it to everything.”

Fahy’s proposal passed the Assembly 89-56, largely along party lines. The Albany Democrat countered Republican arguments by saying many bills reference definitions in federal law and are still constitutional. She also stood by the idea that the legislation is a clarification of how to determine which firearms face more strict regulation and meets the intent of the 2021 legislation.

Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry, D-Corona and Assembly speaker pro tempore, took a rare leave from running the proceedings on the Assembly floor to speak on the bill. Aubry referenced the shooting of two police officers by a man with no prior criminal record.

“The question for us isn’t to me the issue of the constitutional struggle that we have over the right to bear arms,” Aubry said. “There are too many guns in communities like mine. Guns are being used in many different ways – sometimes it’s other citizens, sometimes it’s law officers. You can’t tell me that purpose here is to allow this kind of flow of guns in our society, so those who are there to protect us are in danger in their life, my children are in danger in the park. We cannot continue on this road to defend this theory, this cowboy theory, that everybody’s got to have a gun and it’s their absolute right to do so. … If we don’t take the weapons out I don’t think we’ve done the job that we swore on the Bible to do, which is to protect and serve.”

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