DA applauds Cuomo’s gun proposals

MALONE – Franklin County District Attorney Derek Champagne says the strengthened gun controls outlined in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State address are “sensible and balanced.”

Champagne, a Republican, issued a statement to the media on Thursday in response to Cuomo’s seven-point plan that would aim to strengthen gun laws in New York state.

“With 20 years in law enforcement and in my former position as President of the District Attorneys Association of New York, I understand the need to protect the citizens of New York State, while still respecting the rights of hunters and sportsmen,” Champagne wrote. “As an avid hunter myself, I believe the measures Governor Cuomo has put forward will do just that; keep New Yorkers safe while fully respecting our right to bear arms.”

Cuomo’s proposal would ban assault weapons, close the private sale loophole, ban high-capacity ammunition magazines, increase penalties for illegal gun possession, strengthen measures to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, ban Internet sale of ammunition and implement a state background check on ammunition purchases.

Following the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Champagne announced that he would run a county-wide gun buyback program.

“Because of the current climate, now is the time to strike,” Champagne told county legislators on Dec. 20.

The program would be entirely voluntary and primarily aimed at people who want to get rid of assault rifles. He said the county would take the guns and destroy them, and give people cash in return.

“I think now’s the time,” Champagne said. “We may have a chance to get them off the street in the next couple of weeks.”