Sportsman puts out sign in favor of SAFE Act

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 September 2014 at 12:00 am

Former bait shop owner in Gaines says SAFE Act deserves public support

Photos by Tom Rivers – Al Capurso and his wife Christine have two signs in their front yard on Route 279 in Gaines that show their support for the state’s gun control legislation known as the SAFE Act.

GAINES – About a week ago Al Capurso put up two lawn signs, both in support of the SAFE Act.

That might not seem newsworthy, but Capurso might be the first Orleans County resident to make such a public declaration of support for the state’s controversial gun control law. Capurso sees many “Repeal the Safe Act” signs, and he knows all of the elected town, village and county boards in Orleans have passed formal resolutions, calling for the law’s repeal.

Many of the law’s opponents see it as an attack on the Second Amendment’s Right to Bear Arms. Capurso doesn’t see it that way.

“I don’t believe the framers of the Constitution foresaw a citizens’ arms race where they have to get bigger and faster guns to feel safe,” Capurso said today. “A citizens’ arms race is not the Second Amendment.”

Capurso, a long-time sportsman who owned a bait shop for more than 20 years, said the anti-Safe Act voices don’t acknowledge the good with the law, mainly a restriction against magazines with more than 10 bullets. (The law, passed in January 2013, first limited it to seven bullets, but was overruled in a court challenge to a 10-bullet limit.)

Capurso also worked in the mental health field, retiring as an intensive case manager at the Orleans County Mental Health Department. He supports background checks and the pistol permit process. He supports the 10-bullet limit so madmen can’t fire off numerous rounds before reloading.

“Extremist” vices have dominated the SAFE Act discussion locally, Capurso said. He would like to see the public consider other viewpoints, and respect people with differing views.

Paul McQuillen of Buffalo is the Western New York coordinator of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence. He sent Capurso one of the signs in support of the SAFE Act. Capurso hand-painted the other one, which says “Keep S.A.F.E.”

McQuillen says a “silent majority” supports the SAFE Act and efforts to rein in gun violence. He gives out many of the organization’s signs, although he said they are often stolen from front lawns.

He pointed to a Sienna College poll in March that showed the majority of the state by a 2 to 1 ratio backs the SAFE Act. In New York City, the law has about 75 percent of the public’s support. In Upstate New York, a slight majority opposes the law, according the poll.

Capurso would like to see the public, including local elected officials, offer constructive criticism of the law, looking for ways to make it better rather than roundly rejecting it.

“There needs to be another side of this story told besides the extremist point of view,” Capurso said. “I’m not seeing a voice of moderation out there. The pendulum is swinging so far to the extreme. They’re afraid the government might come get their guns and that’s nonsense. They’re afraid the bogeyman will come get them.”

Capurso also took issue with the anti-Safe Act message that proclaims those supporters as “true patriots.” Capurso considers himself a “patriot” who supports the Second Amendment and “common sense” gun laws.

“I respect people’s rights to have signs in their yard,” he said. “I would defend that to that hilt. But I don’t have to agree with them. That’s what being an American is about: You have the right to speak out.”