Legislature candidate wants county to challenge SAFE Act

Benjamin Joe, Lockport Union-Sun & Journal, N.Y.
·2 min read

Apr. 15—Niagara County Legislature candidate Derek Caldwell is pitching a case for the county to sue in pursuit of getting portions of the New York SAFE Act overturned.

Caldwell announced on Wednesday that he has shared with the grassroots gun rights group Second Amendment for EVER the text of a proposed resolution that would require the county government to fund and pursue a lawsuit challenging the state gun control law.

The candidate for the 15th Legislative District seat covering the Royalton-Hartland area suggested it's only fair, since the county has been invested for many years in legal action to try to stop expansion of the CWM hazardous waste landfill in Porter.

Since 2004, Caldwell claimed, "the county has been spending hundreds of thousands — people have even estimated up to a million dollars — fighting this lawsuit on behalf of the Town of Lewiston."

"My question is, OK, nobody likes toxic waste, fine cause, but why aren't we exploring legal action against the SAFE Act?," Caldwell said. "It's not fair to make people who live in Royalton and Hartland pay and pay and pay for Lewiston's priorities while the county has, for eight years, done little more than give lip service to fighting an all-out attack on their Constitutional rights."

Caldwell suggested the county invest $1 on behalf of every resident who's an eligible gun owner — $211,000 — in hiring an attorney with experience in Second Amendment rights, then reach out to approximately 55 other New York counties that have filed anti-SAFE Act resolutions and inquire about their interest in supporting litigation.

"It's actually doing something," Caldwell said. "It's not smoke-and-mirror political games, passing non-binding resolutions, or a lot of talk and no action like a lot of politicians do."

Caldwell suggested the current county legislature's approach to problem solving is to create a commission or a committee through which nothing gets done. He also referenced what he believes is the tight grip that Lewiston has on the county.

"The sad reality is the only thing that makes Lewiston special is that (the) chairman of the legislature and former vice chair both represented Lewiston in county government. The presence of a toxic waste dump is certainly a concern, but a toxic waste dump thirty miles away from my neighbors is less immediate of a concern that their constitutional rights being stripped from them," he declared in a written statement to the Union-Sun & Journal. "The 14,000 people who life in Royalton and Hartland deserve no less protection of their rights and interests than the 13,000 people who live in Lewiston."

Caldwell is seeking the Republican ballot line in a June primary contest with incumbent 15th district county legislator Mike Hill.