Brandon Miller is an avid sportsman and “gun enthusiast.”
As he wandered the aisles at Hunter’s Landing on Lewiston Road in Batavia in hunter’s camo, he pointed out objects to his two-year-old son, Levi, to recite to help his learn vocabulary.
“What’s that?” Miller asked.
“Gun,” he said proudly.
Miller is not happy that gun laws are changing in New York. The state senate approved new legislation Monday night that targets assault rifles and magazines that carry more than seven rounds of ammunition, and the State Assembly approved it Tuesday afternoon. The new law -- which is expected to be signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo Tuesday night -- also requires a police registry of assault weapons and universal background checks for all gun sales. Saying he was “upset” and “mad” about lawmakers’ decision and its potential impact on his passion, Miller was busy at the store today.
“I’ve been reading online all day,” he said. “That’s why I came in to see if I could get some extra ammunition just in case I can’t buy it anymore.”
When Miller was at Hunter’s Landing Tuesday afternoon, it was the slowest the store has been all day, owner Paul Grefrath said. Other sales associates fielded calls from customers wanting information on the new laws, but even the store was hesitant to give out definitive details about such a complicated piece of legislation. An Associated Press write-up of the proposed legislation is posted on a clipboard for all who come in to see right at the front of the store.
Grefrath doesn’t see the new legislation having a big effect on business: the only changes he’ll have to make to his inventory on the floor is the magazines that hold too many rounds than the law allows. In fact, since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary last month, business has skyrocketed, like it has nation-wide.
“I thank Obama and the governor for raising our sales of guns tremendously," he said. "Even though it was a sad situation in Connecticut, our gun sales are through the roof ever since. As soon as the governor and the president talk about banning guns, they are no longer available; everything has been sold. The dealers are all sold out. The distributors are all sold out. Obviously fear of not being able to purchase this type of weapon in the future has made everybody who was thinking about getting one and some people who didn’t even want one decided to get one while they could.”
The NY SAFE Act includes an immediate ban on semi-automatic rifles and pistols with “military-style” features, a ban on magazines that hold more than seven rounds, requires universal background checks for all gun sales, and stricter penalties for firearm-related crimes.
It also includes a “Webster provision” which calls for a life-without-parole prison sentence for anyone who murders a first responder.
Grefrath is a hunter like Miller. He says he's not the stereotypical “bloodthirsty” sportsman looking for the biggest antlers to mount. He likes being outside in nature with friends. He trains dogs and enjoys watching them work. Then there are families who hunt for their livelihood – those who Grefrath says, “stock the freezer.” Despite Miller’s fears, Grefrath doesn’t believe hunting will be affected by the new law.
“There are some people who like to use that (military-style) type of a weapon for coyote hunting for varmint hunting. (But) limiting to seven rounds won’t make a drastic difference.”
Grefrath just wants to be assured that he and his loved ones are safe and he has the ability to protect his family, according to what he sees as his Constitutional right. Grefrath, though, says the law probably won’t curb all violence because there will always be people who break the law.
“This is the same thing that I have seen in the past all along,” Grefrath said, “and that’s that the bad guys will still have the high capacity magazines, and the good guys won’t be able to (have them). You can limit the honest people because they abide by the laws. The dishonest people will have all the fire power they want.”
Peaceful Genesee would be likely to agree. The three-year-old group headquartered in Corfu, N.Y., seeks to cease violence in our community by addressing the root causes.
“We’re concerned about the larger issue of gun violence in our community," moderator William Privitt said by phone from North Carolina, "and have been approaching this (gun control) issue from that perspective. We believe all people need the skillful means to react to perceived provocation without violence.”
Peaceful Genesee stays away from politicizing violence-related issues, but Privett said the group advocates locked-down fire arms within the home to limit access to children and untrained famiily members.
Grefrath expects business to return to normal to Hunter's Landing after the legislative dust settles. The next question is whether this happens on the federal level.