President Obama spoke to the nation on January 5, 2016, to announce unilateral Executive Orders to restrict firearm purchases. This controversial step is being challenged by many as an overreach by the Executive Branch, circumventing Congress and the public. With the New York 22nd congressional district seat being an open seat this election cycle some of the candidates positions on this issue are unknown to the general public. Here is what is clear.
Of those that have yet to make a decision if they will run, County Executive Anthony Picente has no direct statement on gun restriction legislation. His 2015 re-election website lists no mention of the issue, though he was one of very few elected Republicans to support Gov. Andrew Cuomo who enacted the SAFE Act on New York. Equally Oswego County Clerk Michael Backus, and Catherine Bertini have no public statements that can be found on the issue of restricting the 2nd Amendment.
Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi, who is considered the main contender to run for Democrats in the NY-22 race, is the only potential candidate with defined positions in regard to the 2nd Amendment. He was rated 79% by the NRA in 2012 and received no other rating since that time. He was rated 91% by SCOPE NY. He also voted against the NY SAFE Act, but as we noted in March 2015 remained generally silent about the law – allowing a co-sponsored repeal to die in committee without defense.
The two newest entrants to the NY-22 race are Democrat David Gordon and Republican George Phillips. Only Mr. Gordon has ever held elected office, in 2011, but has failed to be elected again in 2 attempts (the most recent in 2015) since he was voted out of office. Mr. Phillips ran for Congress prior to the redistricting of the NY-22 in 2012, but lost in both attempts to unseat Democrat Rep. Maurice Hinchey. Mr. Phillips was appointed as the Legislator for the 8th District seat in Broome County, a position resigned after less than a year. Neither has been involved after the 2013 NY SAFE Act was enacted as law.
George Phillips has had no comment on current gun restriction legislation. There is no record of comments about the NY SAFE Act, the 2013 Executive Orders by President Obama, or even any mass shooting since 2010. Mr. Phillips website lists no political positions on any issue. In a press conference on January 4, 2016, Mr. Phillips declined to speak about any political positions asked by 5 news media organizations. On January 6, 2016, Mr. Phillips appeared on WNBF News Radio, where he again declined to answer talk show host Bob Joseph’s questions on his political positions. Thus nothing can be reported on Mr. Phillips stance on gun control.
David Gordon equally has little information either in the past or currently on the actions of President Obama and the 2nd Amendment. There is no campaign website yet, though Mr. Gordon created an exploratory committee at the beginning of December 2015 and then announced his run for Congress at the end of the year. But on January 4, 2016, Mr. Gordon did appear on WUTQ’s Talk of the Town program. In that appearance the question of gun control did come up. Mr. Gordon spoke about the NY Safe Act stating,
“The NY SAFE Act was obviously something that was not well thought out, was kind of pushed out there as fast as it was, and really in a lot of aspects didn’t make any sense.”
The frontrunner in the NY 22nd congressional race Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, who announced her run in November 2015 prior to Rep. Richard Hanna announcing his retirement, is the only candidate that has defined positions on the issues. Assemblywoman Tenney is rated 90% by the Gun Owners of America in 2014, 91% by SCOPE NY (who gave her the 2014 Legislator of the Year Award), and 100% by the NRA in 2014 & 2012 with an A rating in 2010. Her voting record shows her vote against the NY SAFE Act in 2013, sponsoring the first attempt to repeal the SAFE Act, as well as sponsoring repeals in April 2015 where she called Assembly Democrats ignoring shelving repeal “…denying all the rights of all these people.” Additionally, her congressional campaign website lists the 2nd Amendment as one of her core platform issues – stating there in part that she, “…does not support unproven gun control measures targeted at law abiding gun owners…” Further, Assemblywoman Tenney released a statement in reaction to President Obama’s announced Executive Order on January 5, 2016,
“Obama has once again acted unilaterally and by-passed the Constitution and will of the people by issuing an Executive Order that diminishes the Second Amendment rights of law abiding Americans… I call upon Congress to stand together to take action to prevent this gross overreach of executive power. If they don’t, we must again rely on the judicial branch to stop this unconstitutional power grab much like the halt on Executive Action on Immigration.”
With the latest unilateral partisan action by President Obama, gun restriction legislation is sure to be at the forefront of the not only the presidential elections, but at the State and local level of elections as well. No matter who is ultimately elected in the NY-22 race, the winner will be going into the 2017 session of Congress to either defend the 2nd Amendment on behalf of constituents or they will be seeking to restrict it. The history of where each potential and current candidate stands on the issue is the clearest answer of how they will act in 2017.