Rochester, N.Y. – Monroe County Sheriff Patrick O'Flynn says the question of whose responsible when a registered gun owner is flagged as a mental health risk under the new state gun control law is apparently being left up to the local licensing officers for now.
That means while New York's Office of Court Administration is working out a policy, county clerks around the state are being left to determine what to do if a psychiatrist thinks a gun owner might be a threat to the public. Sheriff O'Flynn and Wayne County Sheriff Barry Virts have been working with the OCA and Governor Cuomo's office for clarification on this part of New York's new gun control law. This is after an Erie County librarian had his legally registered handguns confiscated because he was mistaken for another man with the same name. He got them back a few days later, but the situation left the Erie County Clerk and the State Police each blaming the other for the blunder.
Under the NY SAFE Act, mental health professionals are required to notify the authorities if a patient threatens to harm himself or others. The state court system runs the names against the pistol permit database and notifies State Police if it gets a match. Troopers then notify the County Clerk's office that issued the permit and a judge decides if the permit should be revoked.
According to the New York Sheriff's Association, it should be up to State Police to carry out the law. The sheriff's also say police don't have the authority to possibly enter someone's home and seize their gun without a search warrant if the owner refuses to hand it over voluntarily.