Cuomo chides sheriffs who oppose SAFE Act

Sep 4, 2013

Law enforcement officials can't pick and choose which laws they want to enforce. So says Governor Andrew Cuomo regarding the NY SAFE Act, the state's updated gun control laws, approved in January following the mass shooting at Newtown, Connecticut's Sandy Hook elementary school.

Since that time, several law enforcement officials have been vocal in stating their opposition to the law.  Among that group is a number of county sheriffs, including Sheriff Tim Howard in Erie County.

Credit File photo

Speaking to reporters in the North Country Wednesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a strongly-worded message to authorities who oppose the gun control law: do your job.

"Public officials have different roles, different constitutional responsibilities, and it's not really up to law enforcement to pick and choose what laws they like and what laws they don't like. If you had district attorneys and police commissioners and sheriffs [where] everyone gets to pick and choose what laws they like, that would obviously be chaos," Cuomo said.

"The legislature enacts laws and the law is the law, hence the expression. It's not their job to pick and choose. That obviously would be a dangerous and frightening precedent. Enforce all the laws. That's their job," he added.

After the law was passed, Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard said he thought the law was unconstitutional and unenforceable and, at one point, said he wouldn't enforce it. Howard later backed down somewhat from that stance, saying he has not issued any edict to his deputies to disobey the law. 

The SAFE Act is sure to come up as an issue this election season. Howard, a Republican, is up for re-election to a second full term. Two Democratic candidates, Bert Dunn and Richard Dobson, will square off in a primary next week. The winner will face Howard in November's general election.