Tuesday night August 19th 8-10 signs calling for the repeal of the controversial NY SAFE Act were stolen from front yards on the entire length of South Meadow Drive in North Tonawanda. The Repeal the SAFE Act signs have become a common sight all across New York since the law passed in January of 2013 by means of governor Cuomo’s “Message of Necessity”, a political maneuver that by-passes the normal legislative procedure. While the governor continues to insist the law is popular, it is opposed by fifty two county legislatures, the New York State Sheriff’s Association, the New York State Association of County Clerks, and tens of thousands of ordinary people who have donated to organizations like SCOPE (Shooters Committee On Political Education) and put up lawn signs calling for the repeal of the law.
North Tonawanda Mayor Robert Ord said,”It is shameful and sad that someone should try to limit people’s First Amendment rights, regarding their support for the Second Amendment. It shows the length that some people will go to, to silence opposing view points. It is my hope that the North Tonawanda Police will find this individual, or individuals, and apprehend them in short order”.
Stephen Aldstadt, president of SCOPE noted that this was not the first incident of the theft of people’s lawn signs we have seen. In November 2013 Police arrested Dr. Annamaria Kontor, age 46, of Valewood Run in the Town of Penfield for Petit Larceny, after she was observed stealing a “Repeal S.A.F.E. Act” sign from a yard in Williamson. It was later learned the pediatrician was responsible for the theft of numerous signs in the area. In September of last year Jonathan Gibson of Mahopac, NY had posted such a sign in his yard, advocating for the repeal of the SAFE Act. He noticed that at some point in the day the sign had disappeared. He believed it to be his neighbor, who didn’t approve of the sign. So when he put up another sign with the same message, he also attached a trail camera to a nearby tree (designed to take pictures of deer and other animals when triggered by movement). Instead of catching his neighbor, he caught a series of images of a member of his local police department removing the sign from his front lawn. Once those images where made public the signs stopped disappearing.
A spokesperson for the North Tonawanda Police Department has advised that citizens who wish to file a formal complaint about their signs being stolen should call 716-692-4111.