350 Pack SAFE Act Forum

6:02 PM, Apr 26, 2013   |    comments
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Batavia, NY - Thursday night, at least 350 people packed an auditorium at Genesee Community College to vent their frustrations about the NY SAFE Act.

The panel mostly agreed with what audience members had to say about the controversial law.

Some audience members worried that law enforcement officers would start going to their homes to search for illegal weapons without warrants.

"The sheriffs and other law enforcement are not called upon by this new legislation to go door to door confiscating any weapons newly classified as assault weapons and will not do so," said a member of law enforcement who was on the panel.

Panel members included Assemblyman Steve Hawley, who hosted the forum, Tom King, who sits on the board of the NRA, Steve Aldstadt, the President of S.C.O.P.E., and Jerome Brewster of the Genesee County Sheriff's Office. Don Read, the Genesee County Clerk also sat on the panel.

Audience members also asked about the controversial mental health provisions included in the SAFE Act.

An Iraq war veteran, who works with veterans getting treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, asked the panel about the mental health provisions. The veteran is concerned that veterans will stop seeking help for mental health if there is a risk that they could lose their right to own guns.

"How is this going to affect them with the current guns that they own and being able to get a pistol permit?" asked the veteran.

"If that mental health provider says that they are a danger to themselves or someone else, then their guns will be taken and they won't be able to get a pistol permit. That's why this law is so dangerous. It's going to make literally hundreds of thousands of people disqualified from owning a gun," said a panel member from law enforcement.

The panel also took time to address recent allegations against the New York State Police, who turned down an invitation to the forum, that accuse the agency of illegally looking at medical records.

"What the lawsuit with Mr. Lewis, and I think you're going to find some really amazing things, I think that there are, there's a lot of stuff going on that shouldn't be going on," said a panel member.

At the county level, permit requests are skyrocketing. In Genesee County, the SAFE Act has created so much work that County Clerk Don Read says he will blow through his annual budget by August or September.

Read says his office issued 47 new pistol licenses Thursday alone.

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