A law is only as good as its enforcement, and a growing number of New York sheriffs are announcing that they don’t intend to enforce the SAFE gun legislation Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law in January, PoliceOne reported.
Cuomo’s rush to make New York the first state to react in knee-jerk fashion to the tragic December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., resulted in a highly-flawed, overly-broad law that restricts the rights of legal gun owners while doing little to address violence.
The legislation limits magazine capacities to seven rounds, prohibits the sale of certain types of semi-automatic rifles and gives current owners of such weapons one year to get them registered with the state, according to PoliceOne.
Schoharie County Sheriff Tony Desmond said he doesn’t intend to enforce the law, and that his office won’t lift a finger to make law-abiding citizens turn in their firearms.
“I’m not going back on my personal conviction,” he said. Residents have told him that is what they want, he said, and “I’ve stood up for them, and I will continue to do so.”
Schoharie County, located in central New York, is primarily agricultural, and its residents have a long tradition as hunters and outdoorsmen.
“They generally treat [their firearms] safely,” he said, according to PoliceOne. “If the governor thinks I am wrong, so be it.”
Desmond has plenty of company. The New York Sheriff’s Association has joined five individual sheriffs in a court effort to block enforcement of the firearms and magazine restrictions.
The law created controversy even while it was still in debate.
“Why are we being bullied into voting on this bill without our proper, responsible due diligence?” said GOP lawmaker Steven Katz, according to the New York Daily News. “Solely due to the governor’s misguided, egotistic notion that this will advance his presidential aspirations.”
In the end, Cuomo got what he wanted.
“I am proud to be a New Yorker because New York is doing something,” the Daily News reported Cuomo as saying. “We are fighting back.”
And now he’s fighting back at his state’s sheriffs.
Cuomo said sheriffs’ job is to enforce all the laws and not cherry-pick those they want to enforce and ignore those they don’t. To do otherwise “would obviously be chaos” and “a dangerous and frightening precedent,” PoliceOne reported.
But the governor’s comments are a tough sell for many. Delaware County Undersheriff Craig DuMond said he and Sheriff Tom Mills agree with the sheriff’s association. Although they find parts of the law beneficial, many of its provisions are overreaching. DuMond doesn’t support the assault-weapons ban or the restriction on magazine capacity.
“It is too broad and prevents the possession of many weapons that can be used legally,” he said.