Under an onslaught of written opposition, the Albany City Council Wednesday night put off consideration of a resolution expressing support for citizens’ constitutionally protected right to bear arms.
Councilors unanimously voted to postpone the discussion until they can once again meet in the council chambers with members of the public in the audience.
Wednesday’s was the council’s second session by means of the “GoToMeeting” digital platform because of the corona outbreak. (As you can see above, on my laptop, some of them were upside down, and so far the explanation has eluded me.) (For more on this, see below.)
The digital format forced anyone with something to say under “business from the public” to send written comments. It fell to Marilyn Smith, the public information officer, to read 30 letters against the gun-rights resolution and two in favor. It took her 45 minutes.
The council had voted 5-1 in February to ask for a resolution affirming its support of the Second Amendment after Councilor Mike Sykes made a request to that effect. At the time he said something about making Albany a “sanctuary city” for gun rights.
The resolution drafted by City Attorney Sean Kidd attempted nothing of the sort, however. The people who showered the council with passionate objections might want to read the actual document before they object again when — or if — the council goes through with bringing it up.
Instead, the one-page resolution supports the Second Amendment and the state constitution’s more specific guarantee of gun rights as they are interpreted by the courts. It also expresses the council’s opposition to any state or federal law that unconstitutionally abridges these provisions.
Some of the letter writers sounded as though they thought the council intended to defy gun-safety laws, which it doesn’t and couldn’t even if it wanted to. Instead, the resolution says: “The Albany City Council remains committed to the removal of firearms from those who have legally forfeited their rights due to conviction of certain felonies and criminal behavior involving firearms and those adjudicated mentally ill and a danger to themselves and others.”
Sykes had expressed his original concern at a time the legislature was considering bills, and proposed initiatives were pending, to complicate gun ownership with additional restrictions and potential penalties. On Wednesday he mentioned another part of the Bill of Rights, the free-speech and free-press guarantees of the First Amendment.
Nobody knows when the council will again be able to meet in person rather than on the internet. When it does, and the gun-rights issue comes up again, maybe someone should ask those passionate letter writers what other parts of our constitutional guarantees they oppose as well. (hh)
The city’s Matt Harrington responded to my upside-down trouble; “I had the same thing happen with our streaming server we used to broadcast to Facebook and YouTube. When joining the meeting you are given the choice to join via the web or install a small desktop app. I had chosen to use the web app when I was setting up and experienced the same thing with half the participants upside down. I left the meeting and chose to download the desktop app (called “GoToMeeting opener” I believe) and joined the meeting again and the world was no longer upside down. My advice, use the app, not the web version as there appear to be some bugs with their software. Or, you can watch the YouTube livestream or, for as long as we are doing meetings this way, Facebook Live via the City’s main Facebook page at https://facebook.com/