Last week the Marlborough Town Board, on behalf of the Police Department, accepted a donation of an AR-15 firearm from Ryan Distefano. President of Ulster Firearms, a retail gun store located at 1989 Route 9W in Milton.
Distefano said he was motivated to make the donation because keeping Police Officers and the public safe, “should be of the utmost first priority, not just of this board, but many other similar ones.” He urged the town board to look upon his donation of the AR-15 as a, “life-saving device, nothing more, nothing less than an AED or a CPR medical bag; that’s our intention.”
Distefano said it is “surgically imperative” that law enforcement has the proper tools to respond to incidents, “heaven forbid it should have to; Lord knows I pray every day that never happens in our small town or anywhere else, but we know there’s always that possibility, there’s always that scare.”
Distefano said he is pleased that he has a good relationship with the Marlborough Police and the town itself. He said society is different than it was 50 years ago; “today there are mass shootings that were inconceivable years ago. I am thinking and hoping that this gift, this donation to the town will aid in a life-saving capacity someday. I can’t stress enough, I absolutely pray that doesn’t happen. It’s actually my worst fear.”
Distefano said that he does not expect any special treatment as a result of this donation.
“It’s something that I wish I could do more of; I’m just not in a financial position to donate more of them, but one is a start,” he said. “Hopefully this will set a precedent and help anybody understand how paramount life-saving devices like this are to Police organizations at the local, county and state level.”
In a followup interview Chief Cocozza explained that this weapon holds 30 bullets and the trigger has to be pressed repeatedly for it to fire, making this a semi-automatic rifle.
“If you pulled the trigger it would just spit out bullets until it was empty; that would be an automatic rifle,” he said.
Cocozza said his department has two other similar AR-15 weapons. He said there are several advantages to this kind of weapon.
“One is the capacity and two is the way the gun fires. It’s a 2-2 3 round, which is an extremely deadly round. [It has] easy and accurate control and very little recoil so the gun is extremely accurate, even by the novice shooter. That’s why the military uses it and you don’t need a tremendous amount of training to be accurate.”
Cocozza said his departmental training involves running a 100 round course.
“We start at various distances from the target, all the way out to 100 yards; shooting rounds at the center bullseye and you have to score it and get within so many in order to be qualified,” he said. “Sometimes you’re doing it laying on the ground, sometimes you’re sitting on you’re butt, sometimes you’re standing and the farthest one out, you’re sitting at a table.”