The following is the text of a letter Sheriff Murphy released in February 2013 regarding the NY “Safe Act”
As the elected Sheriff of Washington County, I feel it necessary to inform my constituents of my position in opposition to the recently enacted NY Safe Act. My opposition is due not only to the manner in which the law was enacted, but also from my personal opinion that based on my many years of law enforcement experience that this act will not reduce gun violence, will unfairly limit the ability of law‐abiding citizens to purchase firearms in New York State, and in doing so will infringe on their rights.
I also believe that the new definition of assault weapons is too broad, and prevents the possession of many weapons that are legitimately used for hunting, target shooting and self-defense. Classifying firearms as assault weapons because of one arbitrary feature effectively deprives people the right to possess firearms which have never before been designated as assault weapons. I am convinced that only law abiding gun owners will be affected by these new provisions, while criminals will still have and use whatever weapons they want.
It is my opinion that there is an urgent need to increase funding for mental health care. There are some provisions of the new law that deal specifically with mental health concerns, but this area demands a much more full and detailed discussion about how to keep guns out of the hands of those struggling with such issues.
Recently in Albany, 52 of the 58 New York Sheriffs met and together we issued the following statement to the Governor; “It is my view that anytime government decides it is necessary or desirable to test the boundaries of a constitutional right that it should only be done with caution, and with great respect for those constitutional boundaries. Further, it should only be done if the benefit to be gained is so great and certain, that it far outweighs the damage done by the constriction of individual liberty. While some of the provisions of the new law have surface appeal, it is far from certain that all, or even many of them will have any significant effect in reducing gun violence, which is the presumed goal of all of us. Unfortunately the process used in adoption of this hastily enacted law did not permit the mature development of the arguments on either side of the debate, and thus many of the stakeholders in this important issue are left feeling ignored by their government. The New York State Sheriffs’ Association has requested to work with the Governor and the Legislature on correcting these issues and we are ready to meet anytime.”
I stand with my fellow Sheriff’s in this statement and hope that together we can form one voice that will be heard in Albany.
I understand my Constitutional obligations and the concerns of my constituents. I am not called upon by this new legislation to go door‐to‐door to confiscate any weapons newly classified as assault weapons, and I will not do so.
I represent all the people, and I took an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of New York.
I will continue to enforce all laws of the state and will protect the rights of all citizens, including those rights guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of New York.
Jeffrey J. Murphy
Washington County Sheriff