The Record-Review – The official newspaper of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York


Ball, Katz say new gun law is ‘political grandstanding’


Two legislators, State Senator Greg Ball and Assemblyman Steve Katz of Yorktown, are taking on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s new gun laws.

Mr. Katz said on Tuesday that the New York Safety Act signed in January by Governor Cuomo doesn’t promote “responsible stewards of the laws of our State of New York.”

Mr. Katz said that the governor pushed the bill through the legislature because the governor has “presidential aspirations.”

“This law is doing nothing and is political posturing, political grandstanding for a guy who wants to become president,” he said. “People are disgusted by the fact that Governor Cuomo rammed this down our throats without proper deliberation. I think he is going to pay a heavy political price for this.”

Mr. Ball, state senator from the 40th district, represents Pound Ridge, North Salem and Lewisboro, as well as Putnam County. Mr. Katz represents the 94th district, which includes Yorktown and parts of Putnam County. Mr. Ball said the problem was not weapons, but mental health services and a focus on illegal guns.

“We need solid provisions to keep the violently, mentally ill from harming our communities, our kids and our families,” said Mr. Ball in an email. “While much of the recent New York State gun bill, as far as stiffer penalties for real criminals and help on the mental health front is good, the last minute push, in the middle of the night without critical public input from sportsmen and taxpayers was outrageous and forced members to vote on a bill they had not read.”

Mr. Cuomo’s New York Safety Act includes provisions to keep guns out of the hands of convicted felons and potentially dangerous mental health patients and ban high-capacity magazines and assault weapons. Under this legislation, New York will be the first state in the nation to ban any magazine that can hold more than seven rounds and run instant background checks on all ammunition purchases at the time of sale.

The legislation, the governor said, will allow authorities to track ammunition purchases in real time to alert law enforcement to high-volume buys and will include a statewide standard requiring recertification of pistol permits every five years. The legislation also closes a private sale loophole to ensure all gun purchases are subject to a background check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System and toughens criminal penalties for those who use illegal guns.

It is not the types of guns available that are the culprit, said Mr. Katz. “When people talk about assault weapons, the first thing they think about is a Tommy gun-type weapon,” Mr. Katz said. “You pull the trigger and it just starts spraying away. Those have been illegal since 1934.”

Mr. Katz said that today’s weapons are owned by sportsmen who are skeet shooters and people trying to protect their families. “And they all do that within the legal boundaries of the law,” he said.

The only groups that are allowed to have fully automatic assault weapons, he said, are military and law enforcement.

Mr. Ball criticized Mr. Cuomo’s steps to limit certain types of weapons and ammunition as well as impose stricter rules on gun ownership.

“The governor may choose to play politics on this one, and I know the polls are on his side, but if he really wants to save lives, he needs to focus on illegal guns, keeping firearms out of the hands of violent criminals, and surgically examine the state’s handling of the violent and mentally unstable, who are sadly falling through the cracks every single day,” Mr. Ball said in a statement. “The governor’s comments that ‘no one needs 10 bullets to kill a deer’ illustrate a basic lack of understanding and respect for our Second Amendment. The Constitution doesn’t simply apply during deer season, and it wasn’t just created for hunters. While I will do everything I can to partner and protect our communities, we must be honest and take a real look at our state’s mental health services, where violent, mentally unstable souls are failed by a kangaroo system daily.”

Both Mr. Katz and Mr. Ball say that cracking down on illegal weapons and a greater awareness of mental health problems are crucial to resolving the issue of gun violence.

“If you are irresponsible in the safekeeping of your weapon, you are a criminal as far as I am concerned,” Mr. Katz said. “But if you look at the number of murders that happen in our state, with legal versus illegal weapons, you would be astonished.”

Mr. Katz is on the state legislature’s mental health committee. “We are absolutely increasing awareness of mental health problems, and we are for being proactive when it comes to mental health,” he said.

He said that there are elements of Mr. Cuomo’s bill that he likes, specifically those that provide for increased awareness and treatment for mental health issues. One of these is the expansion of Kendra’s Law. Effective since November 1999, it is a New York State law concerning involuntary outpatient commitment that grants judges the authority to issue orders requiring people who meet certain criteria to regularly undergo psychiatric treatment. Failure to comply could result in commitment for up to 72 hours.

Another plus for Cuomo’s bill, according to Mr. Katz, is that the NICS ownership check will now include mental health histories.

“We are now at least identifying and acknowledging that the main issue in terms of gun control is a matter of establishing the fact that we need to be aware of people’s mental conditions relative to owning guns,” Mr. Katz said.

He did, however, criticize Mr. Cuomo for including mental health provisions in the bill at the same time the governor’s “step-down” program “is draining the mental institutions and putting these people in halfway houses inside communities.

“He is allowing these people to live in houses with no security at all,” said Mr. Katz. “The patients are allowed to walk in and out of these homes and walk the streets, and before that they were confined in mental institutions.”

He said that freeing people who need treatment was a mistake made by President Ronald Reagan, and Mr. Cuomo is about to make the same mistake.

“I don’t know how you can look for safer streets and control and at the same time empty out the mental institutions for budgetary reasons,” Mr. Katz said.

He said that the law affects nobody but those who own guns legally.

Mr. Ball said that he was taking steps within the district to make the community safer, including working with Lewisboro last year to secure funding for a resource officer. “On the state level I am happy to partner with local officials on securing funding for school resource officers, changing entrances to better screen visitors, and taking other measures to protect our children.”

Read more local coverage of your hometown in this week’s issue of the The Record-Review. Newsstand copies are available at several locations listed above, or subscribe today for convenient home delivery.

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February 1, 2013

‘Pops, Patriots and Fireworks’

Pound Ridge/Scotts Corners

  1. Scotts Corner Market – Trinity Corners Shopping Center;  55 Westchester Avenue

  2. Pound Ridge Sunoco — 66 Westchester Avenue    

  3. Sam Parker Country Market — 257 Westchester Avenue    

Bedford Village

  1. Bedford Rexall Pharmacy — Hunting Ridge Mall; 424 Old Post Road  

  2. Village Green Deli — Village Green; Routes 22 and 172    

  3. Bedford Shell — Routes 22 and 172 (at blinking light); 848 So. Bedford Road

  4. Village Service Center —193 Pound Ridge Road (at Long Ridge Road intersection)    

Bedford Hills

  1. Bedford Hills Deli – 7 Babbitt Road    

  2. Bueti’s Deli – 526 Bedford Road (Route 117)


  1. NoKA Joe’s – 25 Katonah Avenue    

  2. Steger’s Paper Mill – 89 Katonah Avenue    

  3. Katonah Pharmacy – Katonah Shopping Center; 294 Katonah Avenue   

  4. Bagel Shoppe – Katonah Shopping Center; 280 Katonah Avenue    

  5. Katonah Sunoco – 105 Bedford Road

Mount Kisco

  1. Teamo/Mt. Kisco News – 239 Main Street    

Cross River

  1. Bagel Boys Café – Cross River Shopping Center; Routes 121 and 35    

  2. Cross River Shell Station – Route 35    

  3. Cameron’s Deli –  890 Route 35    

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