In an effort to improve upon what he called failings in the state SAFE Act, and to reduce violent crimes in the communities, Assemblymen John D. Ceretto, R-I-C-Lewiston, joined several of his legislative colleagues Wednesday at a forum to discuss the very serious issues of mental health, school safety, gun violence and general public safety.
The event was held at the Mahoney State Office Building in Buffalo.
"As lawmakers, one of our top priorities must continue to be making New York state a safer place to live. To make our communities safer, we must address the issues of illegal gun crimes, the way the state cares for and diagnoses its mentally ill population, and the safety of our schools," Ceretto said. "Unfortunately, the SAFE Act failed to systemically address any of these issues and merely began a conversation that should have started years ago. Worse yet, this law takes away the rights of our law-abiding gun owners. In the haste to make headlines, the leaders of our state failed to make New York safer and foisted upon us a law that weakens our constitutional rights and erodes the foundation of our freedoms."
During the event, lawmakers heard testimony from experts in the fields of school psychology and mental health care, educators, law enforcement and Second Amendment advocates about the correlation of these factors and what comprehensive measures can be taken by the state to improve the safety of every citizen.
Representatives from the Erie County Mental Health Association, National Association of School Psychologists, Erie County Association of School Boards, SCOPE and Niagara Gun Range were among the organizations that presented testimony. Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard, Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs and Niagara County Deputy Clerk Wendy Roberson also testified. Written testimony was provided by Children's Mental Health Association and WNY Children's Psychiatric Center.
The collective goal of the members hosting the event was to include these experts in an open and productive conversation about the root causes of violence in society, particularly in schools, and to use the insights gained from the forum to assist the Assembly members in creating a more comprehensive legislative response to the SAFE Act.