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Politics

Greenburgh Assemblyman Opposes 'Wild West' Reaction To Gun Violence

State Assemblyman Tom Abinanti wants to see better control on guns -- including stronger background checks "to keep guns out of the hands of the wrong people" -- not a "Wild West" solution. State Assemblyman Tom Abinanti wants to see better control on guns -- including stronger background checks "to keep guns out of the hands of the wrong people" -- not a "Wild West" solution.
State Assemblyman Tom Abinanti wants to see better control on guns -- including stronger background checks "to keep guns out of the hands of the wrong people" -- not a "Wild West" solution. Photo Credit: File
Ulster County Sheriff Paul Van Blarcum prompted wide public reaction, pro and con, after his office posted a statement encouraging licensed handgun owners to carry their weapons. Ulster County Sheriff Paul Van Blarcum prompted wide public reaction, pro and con, after his office posted a statement encouraging licensed handgun owners to carry their weapons.
Ulster County Sheriff Paul Van Blarcum prompted wide public reaction, pro and con, after his office posted a statement encouraging licensed handgun owners to carry their weapons. Photo Credit: File photo

This story has been updated.

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- A state assemblyman representing the towns of Greenburgh and Mount Pleasant said he favors strong background checks on gun owners -- not a "Wild West" solution.

"We have guns in the hands of the wrong people. That's the problem. Let's devise a solution," Assemblyman Tom Abinanti said on Friday.

The state legislator from Pleasantville was reacting to Ulster County Sheriff Paul Van Blarcum's statement encouraging licensed handgun owners to carry weapons.

Van Blarcum's position was posted on the Ulstate County Sheriff's Office Facebook page on Thursday. The comments follow highly-publicized shootings including last month's terrorist attack in Paris and Wednesday's attack at a Social Services center in San Bernardino, Calif., where 14 people were killed by a man and a woman.

Abinanti, a Democrat, told Daily Voice: "We do not want a public response. We want a trained response."

"Gunfights in crowded areas is not what we need,'' Abinanti continued. "The 'Wild West' solution is not appropriate for New York. ... If the sheriff of Ulster County is not confident in the capability of his officers to respond, then he should be asking for state help."

There are roughly 10,000 handgun-permit holders living within Ulster County, which has a population of about 180,000 people. As of Friday, the sheriff's Facebook post got nearly 24,000 likes and nearly 29,000 shares.

Abinanti added: "It boggles the mind that a law enforcement official should make the suggestion that the public should intervene where the police should intervene."

Greenburgh Supervisor Paul Feiner said, "I agree with Abinanti. There are too many guns around. I think more guns will result in more gun violence. And, I think we should be discouraging people from purchasing guns."

"Many of the gun fatalities in the nation are accidents, family disputes,'' Feiner said. "I think more people in Ulster and in Westchester will die from gun violence if every resident would carry a firearm."

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's press office has not replied to a Daily Voice request for reaction.

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