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http://www.democratandchronicle.com...0046/guns-parks?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|Home

Each monthly meeting of the Monroe County Legislature, everyday citizens take advantage of a public forum to appeal to legislators about any number of causes - welfare benefits, library hours and county labor contracts being among the more common.
But in recent months, gun rights activists have taken the podium with greater frequency to advocate for the repeal of a local law banning the carrying of concealed firearms in county parks.
Their push would not necessarily be noteworthy, except that the gun rights group leading the charge now claims that after years of quiet lobbying a deal it had with the Republican majority to bring the matter to the chamber floor for a vote in June has been scuttled.
"They wanted us there to advocate the position and then they would bring it to a vote," said Ken Mathison, of Shooters Committee on Political Education, or SCOPE. "We've been patient for over six years and we've been loyal to the Republican Party and we feel that we deserve a little payback, just like any other political group."
There is no legislation before the County Legislature to repeal the ban, and Majority Leader Anthony Daniele, of Pittsford, denied there was ever a deal to bring the matter to the floor.
Daniele, a gun owner, said he sympathized with the cause and acknowledged promising advocates that he would gauge the interest of lawmakers. He also acknowledged encouraging advocates to speak at the public forum, but only as a means to get the ear of legislators and not to set the stage for a vote.
He said he made good on his word, but that, at the moment, there is not enough support for a repeal in his caucus or the Democratic minority.
"If there was a deal, the deal was that I would do my best to reignite the topic and see what kind of interest there is in the legislature," Daniele said.
"I don't believe there is enough support in the legislature to pass it," he added. "Typically, I am not going to introduce something that I think is going to fail."
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The prohibition on concealed firearms in county parks dates to 1981, when the legislature codified a long list of permissible and forbidden activities in the parks system. New York state regulations prohibit guns in state parks.
Violating the county ban is a misdemeanor, and no one in 31 years has been charged, according to the county.
Gun rights advocates have long bemoaned the ban, but their complaints have drawn scant attention.
That began to change in 2009 when President Obama signed legislation allowing guns in national parks. The legislation, which took effect in 2010, was attached to a popular measure overhauling credit card rules.
The shift breathed new life into objections to the county ban. After all, gun rights advocates argued, if one can pack heat on the trails of Yellowstone, why not Mendon Ponds Park?
"This is a great inconvenience to concealed-carry permit holders, who cannot pass through a county park like everybody else," Chris Edes, the chairman of SCOPE, told the legislature in March.
Advocates acknowledge that their efforts are in part a quest to claw back what they view as a constitutional right that has been chiseled at for decades.
But they are also appealing to legislators' sense of security - for their constituents and their political futures.
Max Kessler, of Rochester, who last year ran unsuccessfully for a legislature seat as a Libertarian, told legislators that a major focus of his campaign was "restoring the right of innocent people to defend themselves against violent criminals in county parks."
"Republican politicians keep acting like wife beaters because pro-gun voters keep acting like battered women," he added. "Pro-gun voters need to stop forgiving anti-gun Republican politicians."
Advocates contend they have been stymied by election-year politics, particularly GOP legislators reticent to inject any controversy into the House race between Democrat Rep. Louise Slaughter and Republican County Executive Maggie Brooks.
"We're seeing the same old thing from Republicans," Mathison said. "They don't want to do this because it'll hurt Maggie's chances of beating Louise."
Daniele denied that the congressional contest has influenced the debate.
He said the constitutional argument for a repeal was a fair point, but that the interests of all county residents had to be weighed.
"From a Second Amendment standpoint, it makes sense," he said. "But from a safety issue, do my constituents really want guns in parks?"
 

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Daniele is a tool and needs to be removed from office. It is just these type of "Republuicans" that we don't need.
 
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