(Wampsville, NY) This week, sheriffs from across New York state met in Albany to carefully review the NY Safe Act. At the conclusion of the week, the sheriffs in attendance in conjunction with the NYS Sheriffs’ Association formulated a formal position statement.
There are a number of provisions in the law that I, along with other sheriffs, felt were helpful to law enforcement officials and our citizens. There were also a number of the provisions that caused a concern to me and other sheriffs. We believed that these provisions of concern should be reexamined by our governor and our legislators.
There are six provisions of the new law that I believe will improve the safety of our citizens:
1) Restricting the Freedom of Information Law request regarding pistol permit holders;
2) The killing of emergency first-responders would be an automatic aggravated or first-degree charge, requiring life without parole;
3) National Instant Criminal Background Check check on private sales of firearms;
4) Comprehensive review of mental health records for issuance of new permits and to determine if revocations of current permits are required for mental health reasons;
5) Safe storage of firearms; and
6) Increased penalties for illegal use of weapons.
There are other provisions that were reviewed I believe need to be revisited:
1) Assault weapon ban and the definition of assault weapons is too broad and prevents the law-abiding gun owner the possession of such firearms that are legitimately used for hunting, target shooting and self-defense.
2) Inspection of schools by state agencies, which gives them the responsibility to review safety plans. The funding for such review will be given to these state agencies to implement such safety plans. I believe that sheriffs and local police agencies can perform these duties effectively and efficiently.
As the chief law enforcement officer of the county, I feel that sheriffs and local police agencies are in the best position to know the security needs of the schools in their jurisdiction. The state should pass this funding onto the sheriff and local police agencies to keep our schools safe because we are already deeply involved in school safe plans.
3) Reduction of magazine capacity will not reduce gun violence. This will unfairly limit the ability of law-abiding citizens to purchase firearms in New York state.
4) Recertification of pistol permits and registration of existing assault weapons has been delegated to the state police. This conflicts with the duties of the sheriffs’ office regarding the issuance of pistol permits. These records should be maintained at a local level and should be accessible to the sheriffs’ office.
The sheriff’s office has always been responsible for the initial investigation of pistol permit applications and pistol permit records. All of this information should be maintained at the local level and forwarded to a state data base for law enforcement use.
5) Sale of ammunition needs to be clarified. As sheriff of Madison County, I have taken an oath of office to uphold the constitution of the state of New York and the Constitution of the Untied States. The NY Safe Act, as recently passed, requires me to reaffirm the oath I swore to uphold; I understand my Constitutional obligations and the concerns of my constituents.
This office will continue to enforce all laws of New York state and will protect the rights of all Madison County citizens. The safety and well-being of our community will remain my top priority.
Allen Riley, Madison County Sheriff