Write to governor but don’t inform Montgomery
Denouncing New York State’s updated gun control law as a “hyper-political overreaction” as well as “devoid of common sense,” the eight Republicans in the nine-person Putnam County Legislature on Sept. 29 called for its repeal.
In a letter to Gov. Kathy Hochul, they targeted the Concealed Carry Improvement Act, passed by the state Legislature in July in response to a U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of a 109-year-old state law.
The eight legislators said the revised law, currently under challenge in federal court, involves a “lengthy, cumbersome, complicated, expensive, unduly burdensome” and otherwise flawed application process for concealed carry of handguns and imposes costs and “excessive workloads” on the Putnam clerk and sheriff.
They further described it as “blatantly unconstitutional, designed to deprive peaceful, law-abiding citizens of their constitutional rights,” banning handguns in parks, restaurants and “countless other public and private so-called ‘sensitive locations’ where residents, businesses and municipalities operate, live, work, shop, socialize and pay taxes.”
The legislators complained that the state Legislature had “shamefully” introduced the bill in a special session, approved it, and enacted it in a single day, “without public knowledge, discussion or input.”
The Republicans failed to inform their colleague Nancy Montgomery, who represents Philipstown and part of Putnam Valley and is the sole Democratic member, of the letter. It also did not appear on the agenda for the Oct. 5 meeting; instead, Legislator Toni Addonizio of Kent read it aloud in the period reserved for legislators’ comments, right before adjournment.
When Addonizio had finished, Montgomery noted that she had not been sent a copy.
Addonizio said she had not provided it because “I didn’t think you’d be in favor of this.”
Montgomery said that “you guys are communicating, as a quorum, without the public’s knowledge — that’s what’s happening here,” referring to caucus meetings. She questioned whether the Open Meetings Law permits such activity. (It does.)
Legislator Paul Jonke of Southeast asked Robert Firriolo, the Legislature’s lawyer, if there “is anything inappropriate about us communicating and sending a letter to the governor.”
“Absolutely not,” Firriolo declared.
A brief hubbub broke out and Montgomery tried to speak further.
“Don’t interrupt me,” Jonke said. “You can never let anybody get their sentence out. That’s disrespectful; that’s disgraceful.”
Legislator Ginny Nacerino of Patterson explained that the letter came to each Republican legislator separately to sign. “It wasn’t the group working together,” she said.
Montgomery thanked them for the clarifications, apologized for interrupting anyone and noted that her remarks often trigger debate. “That’s why we have meetings,” she said. “If I can’t ask questions at a meeting, I don’t know why we have meetings.”