County calls for SAFE Act changes

NORWICH – County officials unanimously adopted two resolutions discrediting portions of the New York State Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement (SAFE) Act this week, citing reasons that some provisions of the law abrade constitutional rights while others pertaining to mental health would prove too costly for county taxpayers.

Although neither of the two resolutions take an official stance opposing the entire NY SAFE Act – signed into law in January – one does support the position of the New York State Sheriffs’ Association (NYSSA). In February, NYSSA came out largely against much of the SAFE Act, saying that while there are positive aspects of the law, such as stricter felony charges for the killing of emergency first responders and a more comprehensive review of mental health records before firearm permits are issued, much of the law was passed in haste and should be amended by state legislators working with local officials and law enforcement.

But most of the discussion at Monday’s Board of Supervisors meeting focused on the debate of mental health and gun ownership, which local officials say should be a continuing discussion. Terms of the SAFE Act relating to the issue of mental health (referred to as MHL 9.46) go into effect tomorrow and according to Community Mental Hygiene Services Director Ruth Roberts, those terms contain unfunded mandates that may also pose a risk of discouraging gun owners in need of mental health services from seeking help.

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