Another Challenge to New York’s Gun Law: Sheriffs Who Won’t Enforce It

Some claim that the law, which was adopted in response to a Supreme Court decision, disregards common sense, the Second Amendment, and how people actually live outside of major cities.

LYONS, N.Y.- The majority of Robert Milby’s adult career has been spent in law enforcement, where he has received accolades and advancements for his loyal service. He is now the sheriff of Wayne County. However, Sheriff Milby has recently come under fire for taking a different approach to the law: disobeying it.

Sheriff Milby is one of at least six sheriffs in upstate New York who have stated that they have no intention of vigorously enforcing gun laws that the state legislature passed last summer, which prohibit carrying concealed weapons in a number of public places, including, but not limited to, Times Square and government buildings, religious institutions, hospitals, and homeless shelters.

At a recent interview, Sheriff Milby stated, “It’s pretty much everywhere,” in his office in Wayne County, east of Rochester. “If anyone believes we would go out and take an aggressive posture against this, they are mistaken.

After the Supreme Court struck down a century-old New York law that severely restricted the carrying of weapons in public in June, lawmakers in Albany sought to set a precedent for other states. On Thursday, a U.S. District Court judge blocked significant portions of the law, dealing a major blow to their efforts. New York’s ambitious attempt may be in jeopardy because to the legal challenge and the animosity of many law enforcement officials.

Glenn T. Suddaby, the judge, consented to a three-day postponement of his decision so that an urgent federal court appeal could be filed. However, even before Judge Suddaby made his decision, a group of sheriffs from upstate New York announced they would not take any additional measures to execute the statute, citing a lack of resources, an overbroad definition, and potential Second Amendment violations.

Conservative sheriffs around the country have taken the lead in an aggressive pushback against leftist initiatives, frequently branding themselves as “constitutional sheriffs” or as self-appointed arbiters of the legality of any law. Sheriffs from other states have also participated in initiatives to disprove the absurd claim that Donald J. Trump, the former president, won the 2020 election.

The disagreement in New York has straddled the line between outspoken criticism and sly resistance, including promises of selective — and occasional — enforcement.

Richard C. Giardino, the Republican sheriff of Fulton County, which is located northwest of Albany, stated, “I have to enforce it because I pledged to defend the laws, but I may use as much discretion as I want. “If someone deliberately breaks the law, they will be dealt with in a certain way. We won’t prosecute someone for a criminal, though, if they entered their barbershop with their carry hidden because they were uninformed that the laws had changed.

In addition to organisations like the New York State Sheriffs’ Association, who called the new law a “thoughtless, reactionary action” that seeks to “restrain and punish law-abiding citizens,” such criticism has come from Greene County, in the Hudson Valley, to Erie County, which is home to Buffalo, the state’s second-largest city.

Sheriff of Niagara County Mike Filicetti added a Ronald Reagan quotation to his email, saying, “We will take the complaint, but it will go to the bottom of my stack.” No arrests will be made without my consent, and I give it a very, very low priority.

Since the law’s implementation on Sept. 1, it has reportedly only sometimes been applied, at least anecdotally. The mostly rural Montgomery County, west of Albany, sheriff Jeff Smith said that his agency had not received any requests to enforce the new legislation, observing that “virtually every family” within his jurisdiction was armed in some way.

Republican Sheriff Smith claimed that while he understood the intent of lawmakers to stop mass shootings and bloodshed, the intent of the gun bill unintentionally singled out legitimate gun owners.

He declared, “The pendulum swung much too far.

It is against the law in New York to bring a firearm onto any private property, including a house, unless the owner has posted “clear and obvious signs” stating that such weapons are permitted. Some sheriffs have produced their own signs and given them to locals and businesses that support gun rights.

According to Sheriff Giardino, “I don’t think you could find one situation in this nation, in the history of the United States, when a sign stated, “SCHOOL ZONE NO GUNS PERMITTED,” and it stopped an active shooter.

Given that sheriffs’ requests for law and order are frequently accompanied by complaints that the state is in chaos, crime is out of control, and that the Legislature has given lawbreakers more authority, advocates of the law believe that the opposition is not real.

As a Brooklyn Democrat who supported the legislation, State Senator Zellnor Myrie remarked, “To turn around and say ‘For the laws that we don’t like, or we may disagree with politically, we will refuse to enforce,’ to me is the height of hypocrisy.

Sheriffs, according to Everytown for Gun Safety President John Feinblatt, “endangere their colleagues in law enforcement” in addition to the general public.

Sheriffs should direct their ire at the Supreme Court, Mr. Myrie continued, noting that Justice Clarence Thomas, an avowed conservative, wrote the majority opinion in the case New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen, which specifically noted a historical basis for restrictions in “sensitive places.”

State Senator Zellnor Myrie said law-and-order sheriffs can’t pick the laws they enforce.

According to Kelly Roskam, the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions’ head of law and policy, the Supreme Court left several open-ended issues for lower courts to decide. Lack of clarity in the court’s constitutionality test, which determines whether a sensitive location is the same as or sufficiently comparable to one that existed at the time the Second Amendment was adopted in the late 18th century, presents one specific issue.

When it comes to guns, “we have different issues than people who ratified the Constitution,” she remarked. There will probably be legal challenges to these statutes, and the outcomes will vary depending on the judge.

According to David Pucino, the deputy chief counsel at the Giffords Law Center, which works to stop gun violence, the country has a long history of barring hidden firearms in facilities like airports, courthouses, and establishments that sell alcohol.

Mr. Pucino called the sheriffs’ words “ideological statements,” as he has done before. “And that is not a suitable foundation for a sheriff to enforce or not enforce laws,” the speaker said.

The argument highlights a wider divide between more conservative law enforcement and elected officials upstate and Democratic politicians in Albany, who are largely supported by liberals from downstate. The epidemic widened the rift, with to some sheriffs disobeying Covid occupancy restrictions for Thanksgiving feasts in 2020 and other Republican county officials refusing to comply with mask regulations in schools.

Sheriff Todd Hood of Madison County, east of Syracuse, claims that “firearms are what made our nation great” and that “a lot of the individuals who are doing this are New York City lawmakers and they have no idea.”

Sheriff Hood, a Republican, declared that “there are distinct folks up here.” It is operated entirely differently.

Even if the statute is reversed, according to Jeffrey A. Fagan, a legal professor at Columbia University, Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul and Albany lawmakers successfully tested the boundaries of the Bruen judgement.

He said that New York’s response to Bruen was roughly on par with what other states did throughout the nation. “To make a very significant message, the governor and the Legislature were thrusting out their chins.”

Ms. Hochul claims that before the passage of the gun measure, she and her team talked with several state and local law enforcement officers. On the eve of the law’s implementation in late August, Ms. Hochul remarked, “It was an exhausting procedure, but it was essential.”

In his office, sheriff Robert Milby has a book on self-defense.

There were some issues with the implementation, such as worries from certain military re-enactors who cancelled events for fear of breaking the new legislation. Officials in the state’s North Country’s six million-acre Adirondack Park questioned Ms. Hochul on the issue of whether firearms would be permitted there.

Sheriff Milby, a Republican who was elected in November, stressed that although he would not be aggressively chasing violators of the new legislation, his deputies, who numbered less than 100 in a county with roughly 100,000 residents, would react to any reports regarding hidden weapons that might come in.

Most importantly, he claimed that his office receives “an awful lot of calls” from locals who are perplexed by the rule, many of whom are “quite pro-Second Amendment.”

Since September 1 it has essentially been as clear as mud, he added.

Regarding accountability, Sheriff Milby claimed that prior to Thursday’s ruling, the opinions in Wayne County were unambiguous.

In what is being described as an unconstitutional conniption fit, the governor has allegedly just thumbed her nose at the Supreme Court, according to a very strong opinion in this county, he said. She has definitely overstepped.

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