Final debate held in race to fill open North Country congressional seat
Gun control was one of the topics the three candidates running for the North Country's open congressional seat discussed during their final debate of the election season, hosted by WWNY-TV in Watertown. Both Republican Elise Stefanik and Democrat Aaron Woolf agree the New York SAFE Act is flawed.
Woolf says there needs to be a discussion about sensible gun control, and that mental health should be looked at, starting in schools.
"We have mechanisms to screen for physical illnesses in schools, but not so much with mental illnesses," Woolf explained. "I think that would be an incredibly important and good start."
Stefanik, who is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, says she agrees that mental health should be looked at closely.
"We need to make sure that we are encouraging, we're protecting law abiding citizens, but we're also addressing the increasingly violent acts," Stefanik said. "And I think we can do that by addressing mental health."
Green Party candidate Matt Funiciello says the SAFE Act does not address what he calls the real issue of handgun deaths, which he says accounts for the majority of homicides and suicides that occur in the United States.
The candidates also discussed the possibility of putting more boots on the ground in Iraq and Syria.
Stefanik says she would immediately ask the Fort Drum community for its opinion.
"As a representative for the 21st district, any issues related to national security you have to reach out to members of the Fort Drum community to get their input," Stefanik said.
Woolf agrees with Stefanik, but says Congress needs to make the final call.
"I think it's incredibly important to get advice, the best military advice available, but absolutely this should be a civilian decision and should be a decision made in Congress," Woolf said.
Meanwhile, Funiciello says only Congress should be making the decision to use military involvement.
"I personally don't want anyone who is invested in war as a form of economic development to be making a decision about whether we go or not, or whether my child goes or not," Funiciello explained.
Election Day is November 4.