Albany County Sheriff knocks SAFE Act

Local authorities see benefits and downsides to new gun control law

— Apple didn’t explicitly call the law unconstitutional, but claimed it infringes on the right to bear arms.

“I think it does in fact start to encroach on our second amendment,” Apple said.

Other local law enforcement officers had opinions that varied from that of Apple, who holds an elected office. Bethlehem Police Chief Louis Corsi acknowledged the controversy over the law, but declined to share his opinion and thus get involved in the politics of it.

“From a law enforcement perspective, at the end of the day we are charged with enforcing the law … and that is what we intend to do,” Corsi said. “My personal opinion on this has no bearing at all.”

Colonie Police Chief Steven Heider said he understands the emotional response some gun owners have towards the law, but believes there are “a lot of great things” within it.

“I am probably one of the most in the middle kind of people, I am not a gun enthusiast and I am not anti-gun either,” Heider said.

Heider said once past emotional issues, people might see the positives to the SAFE Act. He also reaffirmed police officers wouldn’t go to people’s homes and confiscate weapons newly banned under the law.

“This bill does not create a police state,” Heider said.

Heider, along with Apple and the Sheriffs’ Association, pointed to new reporting requirements for mental health care professionals as a benefit of the law.

The state Conference of Local Mental Hygiene Directors said requiring practitioners to report people who are a dangerous to themselves or others to the local Director of Community Services, a provision that becomes effective March 16, would overburden mental health offices and would “cost local governments millions of dollars” annually.

Other SAFE Act provisions like strengthening penalties for those who kill first responders, requiring safe storage of firearms and increasing penalties for illegal use of weapons have generally been uncontroversial.

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