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Buchwald, Castelli Clash on Guns and Crime

Democratic challenger claims assemblyman is soft on gun crime.

The race for the 93rd state Assembly District got contentious over the weekend, as Democratic challenger David Buchwald assailed Republican incumbent Robert Castelli over past votes on gun legislation.

“In a short time as assemblyman, Robert Castelli has voted to allow dangerous criminals to have guns and to keep law enforcement from having the tools it needs to solve as many gun crimes as possible," Buchwald said at a Saturday press conference with supporters, which was held at in Chappaqua.

In particular, Buchwald hit Castelli for voting three against legislation he argues would help make it harder for domestic violence abusers to get guns. One of those bills, A04488A, passed the assembly on June 14, 2011, and again on March 21, 2012. The earlier bill was voted on in 2010.

“There are some votes that tell you a lot about your representative," Buchwald, a White Plains Councilman, said about the domestic violence legislation. "This was a crucial test of Assemblyman Castelli’s commitment to Westchester values, and he flunked that test.”

Buchwald also slammed Castelli for voting against a bill that would require certain firearms to be capabable of doing microstamping of ammunition stored. The vote was held on June 17. Buchwald argued that it would help in tracing shell casings back to guns that fired them, which in turn would help in catching the perpetrators.

Hitting Castelli, Buchwald painted him as someone who is not working in the best interest of police or in supporting Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“He’s been siding with the NRA and against Governor Cuomo, and our law enforcement professionals," he said.

Castelli's campaign hit back, and made a bid at playing offense.

In a response statement, Castelli's side described the domestic violence bills raised by Buchwald as being flawed because they did not address a federal loophole that enabled people convicted of misdemeanor-level domestic violence to purchase guns.

His campaign noted that he voted, in 2011, for legislation that achieves such an aim. That bill was signed into law by Cuomo.

“As a public servant who spent my entire career in law enforcement and higher education as it relates to criminal justice, I know first-hand how domestic violence and abuse are far more prevalent than many realize,” Castelli responded in his press release. “That is why I have fought not only for stricter penalties for abusers, but also for laws that focus on preventing these heinous crimes and protecting victims in an effort to curb domestic violence.”

Castelli's campaign also argued that the use of microstamping is not an effective tool against crime.

Castelli, a former professor of Criminal Justice at CUNY John Jay and a chair of the Criminal Justice Department at Iona College, also noted his academic credentials in the area. He is also a former New York state trooper.

Playing offense, Castelli went after Buchwald for a recent rise in White Plains crime. His press release cited data showing a 32.3-percent increase in Part One Crimes" from June 2011 compared to June 2012. Part One includes violent crimes, burglary and theft. The release also claimed that violent crime has increased by 50 percent since Buchwald joined the White Plains Common Council.

Barry Caro, a spokesman for Buchwald, argued that Castelli's assertion about crime in White Plains is misleading. He stated that violent crimes have only gone up slightly from last year (43 versus 41, as of last weekend). Much of the overall crime increase can be attributed to a rise in larceny, he explained. He also disputed the 50-percent rise claim.

"To be clear, and to be explicit, Assemblyman Castelli's claim that there's been a 50% increase in violent crime in the last 3 years is an outright falsehood," he wrote in a response. "It is completely untrue, and the fact that he's making up numbers is a sign of desperation and a clear instance of dishonesty."

The 93rd district includes New Castle, Mount Kisco, Bedford, Harrison and part of White Plains.

Bassett August 23, 2012 at 01:08 PM
Mr. Castelli, Thank you for your response below. If as you say you are now not in favor of this ill conceived project, one that was originally refused by the Town's Planning Board when it was first presented to them in mid 2000 because they said that the site was not a place for anyone to be living I ask you to please make your feeling against this clear and public in a letter to the New Castle Town Board and to all the other relevant Town Boards. I am sure that all of our local papers would be more than happy to print your second thoughts. It would also be helpful to see such a letter on our Town's site. Thank you.
Bassett August 24, 2012 at 12:50 PM
Mr. Castelli, The voters in New are waiting for you to speak out against the Conifer project, Since you do have a letter on record in support of the terrible project it is time for you to tell the voters that you are now against it. Are you so unfamiliar with the spot for which it has been proposed that you would ever had thought it a good thing ?
Thomas October 01, 2012 at 05:32 PM
Buchwald is not a "Sheldon Silver sychophant and darling of unions". he has voted in White Plains against union raises and has favored a hard, but fair position in negotiations. It has been shown that the crime statistics put out by the Castelli campaign are simply lies Just google WHite Plains New York crime statistics and you will see. Castelli really did vote against the bill involving domestic violence, you can't change that fact. As for stop and frisk, who in God's name told you it was highly effective? I am an attorney in the courts in NYC and I can tell you it has caused more problems then anything else, causing several lawsuits and diminished community support. As for the Second Amendment it is one of my favorites It does create an individual right to keep and bear arms, but that right is to be "well regulated".
Ross Revira October 01, 2012 at 08:13 PM
Meaning of "well regulated" The term "regulated" means "disciplined" or "trained". In Heller, the U.S. Supreme Court stated that the adjective 'well-regulated' implies nothing more than the imposition of proper discipline and training.. Now Thomas being a trained liar, excuse me lawyer you know what "well regulated" meant considering the recent Supreme Court decision in District of Columbia vs. Heller. Now that you are proven to be deceptive one would have to conclude that anything else you say is also not true. Thomas, Buchwald, Silver three liars , excuse me again lawyers.
DPM October 02, 2012 at 06:04 AM
Thomas' comment as someone claiming to be an attorney is particularly troubling to me. A first year law student would have a better grasp on the meaning of "well regulated" in light of the Heller decision than this practicing attorney appears to. Simply stated, I don't trust Buchwald or the leader of his party in the Assembly. Conversely, I do trust Bob Castelli and appreciate his having the guts to stand up for my rights.

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