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AUGUST 19 - AUGUST 27, 2014

Destino is no SAFE Bet in 62nd District

By Anna M. Howard

August 19, 2014

Johnny Destino

The sudden exit of George Maziarz from the 62nd Senate District race has ramped up the role that the New York SAFE Act is expected to play as Robert Ortt and Johnny Destino campaign to capture Maziarz's seat.

The SAFE Act, Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, was fast-tracked and signed into law by Governor Cuomo on January 15, 2013, the same day it was passed by the state legislature. It came on the heels of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newton Connecticut that occurred December 14, 2012.

If nothing else the law's passage proved that the governor and legislature could work to pass sweeping legislation when they want to. Unfortunately the very fact that it was written so fast and passed with virtually zero debate only served to create suspicion as to the law's need and nature.

The very unpopular SAFE Act is set to play a major role in deciding whom the next senator from the 62nd district will be.

Gia Arnold, a sincere if naïve 26 year old mother from Holley in Orleans County, came out smoking over the past several months setting her sights on the repeal of the SAFE Act. The married mother of three, last week dropped out of the race after admitting to having an extra marital affair.

Her dedication to the SAFE Act issue, and her insistence that our constitutional rights must be protected, might have surprisingly put her over the top…such is the current level of voter distrust and disgust with Albany.

But she appears to be out.

Robert Ortt, presently in his second term as Mayor of North Tonawanda, is a well-liked veteran of the war in Afghanistan. Recently the Republican county chairmen of Niagara, Orleans and Monroe endorsed Ortt. This was before Arnold admitted to her affair.

Then there is Johnny Destino, the Niagara Falls native and city school board member who opposed Dyster for mayor in 2011 and lost, and opposed George Maziarz in a senate primary in 2012, and lost.

Where will candidate Destino position himself on the SAFE Act?

Destino will have to navigate a proverbial political minefield and perform a political high wire act worthy of Nik Wallenda in order to find favor with voters on this hot-button issue.

Destino has two major obstacles in his way: Governor Cuomo and Mayor Paul Dyster.

The SAFE Act is Cuomo's ugly baby that was forced down the throats of New York residents. After the Sandy Hook shooting Cuomo moved quickly, if recklessly, to pass his anti-gun legislation. In doing so he managed to not only alienate legal gun owners, but also law enforcement professionals and those who see his actions as part of a greater chipping away at citizens' constitutional rights. Such citizens may not even own firearms but they recognize the erosion of their constitutional rights when they see them.

If the Second Amendment is nullified at state level could the nullification of the Bill of Rights be far behind? Voters see that the First Amendment guaranteeing free speech is under attack and they know that the Fourth Amendment preventing illegal search and seizure has been gutted by the actions of the federal government as it pokes into our private electronic communications daily.

How does candidate Destino reach out to the voters of the 62nd district regarding the SAFE Act without alienating the author of the SAFE Act, Governor Andrew Cuomo?

And then there is Destino ally, Mayor Paul A. Dyster, a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. MAIG is owned and operated by billionaire and former three-term New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Dyster was quoted in the March 7, 2013 Niagara Gazette, "Gun reform is possible and the American people demand it. Our leadership in Washington can no longer ignore this crisis and must act now."

Just how a law abiding deer hunter or target shooter has the remotest of connection to a Sandy Hook tragedy or a drive-by shooting in an inner American city is never explained by the likes of Dyster or Bloomberg…but their message is loud if not clear: guns are bad, guns must go. Bloomberg, by the way, doesn't move anywhere in public without armed bodyguards at his side.

So, how does candidate Destino stand on his own legs regarding the SAFE Act while trapped in the liberal shadows of Governor Cuomo and Mayor Dyster?

Johnny has his work cut out for him and if he thinks the anti-SAFE Act voter sentiment is going away any time soon he is likely mistaken. The issue has legs, marathon level legs, because the voters of New York have made the connection from the erosion of their rights – one amendment at a time – to the loss of their personal freedom.





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