In the first county-level attempt at passing gun legislation since the tragedies in Newtown and Webster, Monroe County Democrats introduced a new bill Monday that would prohibit gun owners from carrying their concealed weapons inside county buildings.
County Democrats point out that right now, you can't carry a concealed gun into Rochester City Hall or into Rochester's Federal Building.
But as long as you're licensed, you can walk into any County Office with a concealed weapon. And Democrats say that's an exception to the law that must be eliminated.
"It's time to update the existing local law, and extend the ban on carrying weapons," said
Carrie Andrews, Democratic Minority Leader.
As most pro-gun groups will tell you, those are fighting words.
"County Legislature does not have the authority to regulate handguns in any way," said Ken Mathison, S.C.O.P.E.
With their news conference inside the Monroe County Office Building, County Democrats aimed to ban anyone from carrying a gun inside those same walls. It's a move they say was not brought about by any one event.
"It just seems that there's really no rational reason to need a weapon in this building," Andrews said.
Opponents counter that it's not about a perceived need, but a right for gun owners to carry as they please on public property.
"We are investigated, we are cleared by the state and federal agencies to have that carry license. The County Legislature should not be restricting where we can carry that handgun," Mathison said.
Democrats say there would be an obvious exception for law enforcement.
Their bill now goes to committee, where it will be debated upon. If the bill ever makes it out of committee, it will then go to what is sure to be a controversial vote.
The top Republican in the Monroe County legislature released a statement in response to the new bill.
Majority Leader Anthony Daniele said, in part: "As with all proposed legislation, we will consider this action. However, it is worth noting that Monroe County has had an effective weapons prohibition in County buildings in place since 1991.