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4 dead as severe storms hit Houston, TX; Election Protection Program eases access to voting information; surge in solar installations eases energy costs for Missourians; IN makes a splash for Safe Boating Week.

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Nassau County exec's plan to deputize armed citizens draws fire

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Monday, April 15, 2024   

Nassau County's executive wants to deputize residents who hold gun permits.

County Executive Bruce Blakemen's plan involves training 100 residents for "the protection of human life and property during an emergency." Little else has been made public about the plan but it has been met with widespread opposition and concern.

Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, minority leader of the Nassau County Legislature, said there are many ways it can go wrong.

"Emergencies are very chaotic situations by nature and all of a sudden, someone shows up that a police officer might not recognize or isn't identified correctly," DeRiggi-Whitton pointed out. "We're just waiting for a disaster to happen."

She added some Nassau County police officers are against the plan and, like many others, feel it's unnecessary. Blakeman said he is relying on New York State County Law 655, which grants sheriffs authority to deputize added personnel for emergencies.

DeRiggi-Whitton noted legal options are being pursued to stop the plan from being enacted.

The lack of information has made residents anxious about what the plan would do. Some have said the effort, along with Blakeman's ban on female trans athletes in county athletic facilities, are solutions without problems.

Susan Gotthrer, director of the Nassau Regional Chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said more pressing issues need to be addressed.

"We have real problems in Nassau County," Gotthrer argued. "We have housing shortages, we have lack of opportunities, we have education issues, high taxes. We would really like to see Mr. Blakeman putting his energies towards real governing issues and not imaginary ones like this."

Blakeman is not alone in pushing to deputize gun owners. Support for militias is growing among conservative politicians. Some residents are worried the armed people will be used to intimidate voters at or after the 2024 election. Nassau County is considered one of the safest counties, not just in the state but in the nation.


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