Candidates speak out about Second Amendment

Gwen Chamberlain
U.S. Rep. John "Randy" Kuhl (R)

If someone is looking for a candidate to proclaim support for gun control laws, they wouldn’t find it Saturday afternoon in Penn Yan.

The Sixth Annual SCOPE (Shooters Committee On Political Education)  gathering, held at the Penn Yan Firemen’s Field Aug. 23, drew candidates for state, federal and district court posts, and each of the candidates had an opportunity to share their view of the second amendment and related issues.

U.S. Rep. John R. “Randy” Kuhl, the first to arrive at the SCOPE event, commented that the members of the organization should be happy with the Supreme Court’s recent ruling allowing licensed guns to be carried in Washington D.C. “This is a sign the Supreme Court is going the right way,” he said.

His challenger, Eric Massa (D), who arrived near the end of other candidates’ comments, told the group, “The Constitution has nothing to do with hunting.” He said elected representatives “owe it to us to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution. The oath is not negotiable. They are sent there (to Congress) to enforce the Constitution and to pass laws that pass the test (of the Constitution).”

New York State Sen. George Winner reminded the crowd of legislation that was enacted this year at the state level in support of hunting interests. He said the rifle and junior hunting legislation were major successes, but they were accomplished because the Senate is still under Republican control.

“It’s going to be important to make sure the Senate majority is maintained,” explaining if the Republicans lose control of the Senate, the state government will be out of balance and the state will be run by downstate Democrats. “And they aren’t in favor of gun rights or bills,” he added.

Assemblyman Jim Bacalles (R), who is running unopposed for re-election to his seat, agreed with Winner’s comments, saying without Republican majority in the Senate “times are going to be a little bit difficult.”

Winner’s challenger, John Tonello (D), who is mayor of Elmira, said in general, individual rights are being assaulted. “I’m a pro-gun Democrat. I believe in the right to carry arms and hunt. New York was founded on individual rights.”

But he disagrees with Winner and Bacalles’s assessment about the balance of power in Albany, saying, “It’s no secret the state government is broken. Why wait forever (for action) with the partisan approach?”

He said lawmakers should try to make changes through a bi-partisan approach, with input from both parties.

Yates County Judge Patrick Falvey, the only Yates County candidate appearing before the group, spoke briefly about his unchallenged bid to win a third 10-year term in the county judge seat. He told the crowd he deals with second amendment issues on a daily basis.

The other candidates who appeared were two candidates for Justice of the Supreme Court in the Seventh Judicial District, Elma Bellini and Joanne Winslow and Robert Lunn, seeking re-election to his seat in the Supreme Court Appellate Division – Fourth Department.

Bellini has been serving as an acting judge on the Supreme Court. Winslow is a Monroe County Assistant District Attorney who is running for the first time.

Winslow told the crowd she’s never prosecuted anyone who lawfully had a gun, and she has a great deal of passion about protecting victims of crime.

Bellini described some of the serious criminal cases she’s handled, and said she just submitted her application for a pistol permit last week.

Lunn talked about his rural background, saying he feels comfortable talking with voters in the country. He’s seeking re-election to a 14-year term.

Eric Massa, Democratic candidate for 29th Congressional District seat.