Erie County Legislature: Repeal NY SAFE Act

February 21, 2013 Updated Feb 21, 2013 at 8:55 PM EDT

By Rachel Elzufon

February 21, 2013 Updated Feb 21, 2013 at 8:55 PM EDT

Buffalo, NY (WKBW) - Another county is taking a stand against New York's new gun law -- now the toughest in the nation.

The Erie County Legislature voted on two resolutions on Thursday afternoon, including one opposing the New York SAFE Act.

Two democrats, Terrence McCracken and Thomas Loughran, voted with Republicans -- giving a 7-4 vote in favor of a resolution urging state lawmakers to repeal the SAFE Act, hold discussions and come up with a new bill.

Cheers came from gun rights advocates, as Erie County Legislators passed a resolution condemning the New York SAFE Act.

With protestors standing on the sidelines, legislators took part in a sometimes heated discussion about the new gun law.

Republicans and legislators in the Minority Caucus say the way the SAFE Act was passed -- in the middle of the night with no discussion -- goes against our democratic process.

Legislator Kevin Hardwick (R) said "the problems that resulted in that tragedy in Connecticut deserved more than a days debate."

The four Democrat legislators who opposed the resolution said while the SAFE Act has its flaws, something needs to be done about gun violence.

Majority Leader Thomas Mazur (D) said, "When this amendment came into play, we were allowed to have slaves. Women had no rights."

Before the meeting, protestors rallied outside the county courthouse.

Rus Thompson, a Tea Party leader, cried out that lawmakers in favor of the gun control law are "cowards."

"We're the heroes," Thompson said. "We're the ones that are standing up for our rights."

Stephen Aldstadt, with the Shooters Committee on Political Education, says the group has seen a surge in membership since the law passed.

"People who don't even own a gun understand that this isn't about guns," Aldstadt says. "This is about rights."

The SAFE Act even drew criticism from Erie County's top cop.

Despite provisions pertaining to mental health, Erie County Sheriff T.B. Howard, asked, "Why aren't we doing anything about the mental health issues? The governor cut the budget for mental health -- that's where the issue is here."

Erie County is now the largest county in New York to pass a resolution condemning the NY SAFE Act.

Democrats proposed a resolution as well that urges Albany to make changes to parts of the SAFE Act, saying that counties will take a huge financial hit and law enforcement needs to be exempt from some of the provisions.

That resolution passed unanimously.

While in Buffalo earlier in the day, Governor Andrew Cuomo defended the NY SAFE Act too.

When asked about the counties asking for the SAFE Act to be repealed or changed, Cuomo said, "When you talk about a political opposition, it's a fear of what the law could lead to, and that fear is totally unfounded, because the law doesn't do what people are afraid of."