SARATOGA SPRINGS N.Y. (NEWS10) – Saratoga Springs City Council passed an amendment to its firearms ordinance Tuesday night. However, not everyone is on board with the amendment as it is.
The two main highlights make it illegal to possess a firearm while intoxicated in a public space and outlines penalties for each firearm discharge.
It all stemmed from the November shootout on Broadway, near Caroline Street, that involved an off-duty Vermont deputy.
Mayor Ron Kim says the shots fired during that incident were in the double-digits. Under the newly amended ordinance each shot would be subjected to a fine, that would range from $250 to $2,500.
At the city council meeting, Department of Public Works Commissioner Jason Golub expressed concerns about enforcing the law.
“It is a near impossible exercise unless you want to violate peoples’ civil rights,” said Golub.
He worries it could slip into stop and frisk situations, if not applied properly, and says officers he’s talked to questioned how to use it.
“So I think the idea of it is great if you organized it as a piggyback to another offense, I would go for it but how it is practically enforced procedure by the police it doesn’t spell it out in a way that I’m comfortable with and so that’s still my biggest concern,” said Golub.
Local business owners did not want to talk on camera but one echoed his concerns, expressing fears around how the law could be applied. While others were surprised that it was not already the law.
Commissioner of Public Safety James Montagnino introduced the amendment and countered the concerns.
“Public intoxication or public impairment, by itself, does not provide a reasonable suspicion for a police officer to do anything,” said Montagnino.
Commissioner of Accounts Dillon Moran agreed with Goulb saying it’s not going to be a deterrent and believes it’s not going to be something that’s used by the police.
Moran says the people involved in the November 20 incident decided to go to bars with their loaded weapons, despite that already being illegal. One being a law enforcement officer, who he says should’ve known better.
“If the people who ought to know better aren’t influenced by the law about not bringing a gun to a bar, I don’t know how being drunk with a gun is a deterrent in any way shape or form, that’s just my personal feeling,” said Moran.
Despite the concerns the amendment passed with a 3 to 2 vote. Montagnino believes it’s the first step in properly addressing gun violence.
“If you are licensed to carry, you don’t want to come to Saratoga Springs to go partying with your licensed firearm. Put it in the safe, keep it at home,” said Montagnino.
Montagnino says the main idea behind it is not to charge “a bunch of people for violating the ordinance”, it’s meant to deter carrying a firearm while judgment is impaired.
“The motion in the ordinance is to raise the consciousness of individuals who are licensed to carry firearms. To suggest that Saratoga Springs is a welcoming city, it’s a party city it’s a place to have fun, but if I’m going out drinking, I’m going to lock the gun away in a safe place before coming into town,” said Montagnino.