The recent NY Safe Act gun legislation is one of the most controversial pieces of law that I have seen in over 35 years of law enforcement experience.
I can assure you that I have no intention of going door to door to pick up any weapons legally owned by any Essex County residents, nor does any other Sheriff in New York State.
This legislation was very hastily constructed and passed without significant discussion or input from law enforcement or citizens and as such is now in a very transitory state as it has dozens of proposed amendments to fix oversights.
I recently returned from the winter conference of New York State Sheriffs and this was the primary issue addressed during this multi-day event. One voice in the wilderness can be heard, but not very loudly. However, the combined voices of all of the Sheriffs of New York State should resonate in the Capital as the voice of the people. The Sheriffs Association drafted and presented a 4 page position statement on this legislation to the Governor. To view this document, you can click on the link in this page.
The Sheriffs of New York State are diligently working to have this legislation amended into a document that does what it was intended to do and, more importantly, not infringe on the rights of the legal, law abiding citizens of our state.
Basically, this has some very good provisions that will help to keep weapons out of the hands of those who should not have them, such as the mentally ill and convicted felons. This law increases background checks and information available to law enforcement to help avoid gun possession by those who pose an increased risk of tragic use of weapons.
Increased penalties for illegal gun possession and use are important and the added section protecting our firefighters is long overdue.
However, I personally do not see how limiting magazine capacity or arbitrarily banning certain weapons based on a few features as being very effective at preventing anyone from perpetrating these tragic acts of violence once they have committed to this senseless course of action. Violent crime is related to a willingness to resort to violence not the presence of guns or weapons.
It makes no more sense to demonize weapons based on appearance than it does to demonize a car for DWI accidents or a deck of cards for gambling addiction.
This legislation is a start, albeit it a misguided one, but in my opinion, mental health treatment and issues would be the better place to begin to address these senseless killings.