Some critics have pointed to New York State's new gun control law as chilling in its scope and intent. But new allegations coming from sheriffs may add to the outcry, as some authorities maintain that Gov. Andrew Cuomo pushed local sheriffs to stop publicly speaking out against the SAFE Act, the gun-control law he signed in January. One source, in fact, told a local outlet that the governor threatened sheriffs' jobs if they don't comply.
Law enforcement officials were reportedly summonsed to Albany last month, where they met with the governor about the contentious issue. It's no secret that sheriffs have come out to publicly oppose the law, sharing their concerns with the public at large. But during the meeting at the capitol, Cuomo allegedly asked them to stop being so vocal.
"The governor was of the opinion that the sheriffs around the state should not be interjecting their personal opinions in reference to the law," Chemung County Sheriff Christopher Moss told the Times Union.
A Stag Arms AR-15 rifle with 30 round, left, and 10 round magazines in New Britain, Conn., Wednesday, April 10, 2013. Credit: AP
Cuomo's comments to authorities, though, about not publicly speaking out against the bill may have crossed beyond simply recommending silence -- at least according to one anonymous source. The Times Union has more:
One person briefed on the meeting said Cuomo threatened to remove sheriffs from office, a little-used power afforded the state's chief executive under the state constitution. Moss would not confirm this. He did say the meeting was heated at times, but overall he described it as "cordial."
[Sheriffs' Association Executive Director Peter] Kehoe did not return calls, and Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi declined to comment. An administration official, speaking anonymously because he was not authorized to discuss a private meeting, "strongly" denied Cuomo had threatened to remove any sheriff.
Regardless of what was said at the meeting, the Sheriffs' Association has joined other politicians in filing an amicus curiae brief that would support a federal challenge to the gun control law. Rather than protesting the measure, itself, Sheriff John York of Livingston County said that the main issue is that the state's resident's did not have input on its contents and how it was enacted. So it is more the method through which it was passed that is in question.
Following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, the SAFE Act was passed and signed by Cuomo. As National Review notes, "Parts of the bill have needed modification because they were unclear or impossible to comply with. The new law put strict limits on the size of magazines in addition to broadening the definition of an assault weapon, a class which is banned."
Some sheriffs have said that they will not enforce the law. With Cuomo welcoming any legal challenges, it appears the battle over gun control in New York State is just beginning.
(H/T: Times Union)