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Sheriffs Across N.Y. Take Aim at SAFE Act

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Rochester: Sheriffs Across N.Y. Take Aim at SAFE Act
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Just a week-and-a-half after New York State passed some of the strictest gun laws in the country, the State Sheriffs Association has released some biting new criticism of the law.

While the Sheriff's acknowledge that state government had good intentions in passing the New York SAFE Act, there was one important thing left out of all the discussion: the sheriffs themselves.

Does partially-disarming the citizenry, help protect the citizenry from gun violence?

"Law abiding citizens will always have a right to have and own arms in this country," said Sheriff Philip Povero of Ontario County.

When the conversation starts about restricting citizens' rights to guns and ammunition, law officers want to know about it.

"The Sheriff's would just like to be able to share their expertise, not because it's some sort of an ego-driven issue, but because we have the knowledge, the experience, the personnel."

But that's not what happened when New York passed the strictest gun laws in the nation last week. Now, the State Sheriffs Association is firing back, with a stinging set of criticisms.

"We'd like to be part of the dialogue, if they're willing to listen to us, on the overall definition of assault weapons and what are they."

In fact, the Sheriffs Association listed seven major problems with the bill. Six complaints deal with the language of the law. The seventh deals with how it was passed:

"Don't do it in the dark of night and within 24 hours," said Sheriff Patrick O'Flynn of Monroe County.

O'Flynn is the newly-elected president of the Sheriff's Association. His main problem with the new law: gun and ammunition restrictions do not exempt police officers.

"Certain sections of it have to be re-looked at, and re-opened. And that is: exempting the police," O'Flynn said. "That's when we're able to talk to Lieutenant Governor and say, 'We really need to sit down with you and discuss some of the other issues and how they affect the locals.'"

The Sheriffs Association did release a list of six positives about the new law, including increased mental health screenings for background checks, and stiffening penalties for gun crimes. So it's not all bad in their eyes.

The new law attempts to remove the Sheriffs from the equation of school safety, and make it a state responsibility. The Sheriffs say they know their schools best and are demanding they be put back in control of local school safety, and they believe they'll win that argument, too.

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