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MAYVILLE, NY (WNY News Now) – Military veterans in Chautauqua County are calling out New York’s new gun law, which they say is not only a violation of the freedoms, but also, is restricting their ability to honor fallen comrades.
“Every veteran has sworn to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. But now it seems we are not able to have all the rights and privileges our Constitution affords. The right to bear arms has been canceled,” says U.S. Army veteran Henry Link.
U.S. Army veteran Henry Link was among those who voiced concerns this week about the state’s new gun restrictions, saying that the law prevents fallen American Heroes from receiving a proper three volley salute when laid to rest. Fellow Army Vet Mattie McIntyre agrees.
“Throughout history, the three-volley salute has been a sign of respect for the fallen. The three empty blank cartridges are placed in a folded flag and presented to the next of kin. This is done as a remembrance of the sacrifice and to signify the three staples of service: duty, honor, sacrifice,” says McIntyre.
The measure, which took effect on September 1, prohibits firearms in sensitive locations, which include many public places and religious grounds.
Local veterans argue that since most cemeteries are public, or are designated to a religion, their honor guard cannot legally perform their duties. This also extends to parades.
In a move of support, the Chautauqua County Legislature passed a motion Wednesday notifying state official their stance on the issue, specifically calling for the law’s “immediate repeal.”
“One of the things we’ve been doing is that we have been giving up our freedoms so that we can be more safe, but the problem is we’re never any safer and we never get our freedoms back,” says David Wilfong, District 11 legislator and Veteran. “So you remember a few years ago the SAFE Act was gonna make everybody safe. Well it didn’t make anybody safe at the Tops shooting up in Buffalo. So here we are again, we’re penalizing law-abiding citizens because of what the criminal does and I think that’s kinda backwards.”
All but one county lawmaker took the same stance, with District 4 legislator Susan Parker the lone no vote.
“I do think that there are probably questions, there are some things that need to be addressed, perhaps. But I don’t think sending a motion from the county to the Governor saying ‘you’re the worst’ is necessarily the way to go. Because I would like to know why we are not questioning, why don’t we send a letter to the Supreme Court and Clarence Thomas and say you just overturned a 111-year-old existing law, gun law, from New York State,” asks Parker.
On Thursday, a lawsuit against the new law was heard in federal court.
In addition to fighting the “sensitive location” clause, the suit also is challenging training requirements for new concealed carry applicants that requires them to turn over a list of former and current social media accounts for the last three years.
The Syracuse based judge is expected to decide whether to issue a temporary restraining order on provisions of the law.
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