This trend is especially pronounced in states that have very strict gun laws, such as New York and Maryland.
Sheriff Tony Desmond of Scoharie County, New York, has publicly announced that he will not enforce the SAFE Act, the state’s hard line gun control law that passed in 2013.
“If you have an (assault) weapon, which under the SAFE Act is considered illegal, I don’t look at it as being illegal just because someone said it was,” he said.
Other New York Sheriffs, while stopping short of refusing to enforce the SAFE Act outright, are instructing their officers to use personal discretion in punishing violators.
“I feel as an elected official and a chief law enforcement officer of the county it would be irresponsible for me to say, ‘I’m not going to enforce a law I personally disagree with,’” said Sheriff Richard Devlin of Otsego County. “[But] I won’t do anything as far as confiscating weapons. We’re not checking out registrations. People that are lawfully using a firearm for target shooting, we’re not bothering those people.”
According to the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA), there are at least 484 sheriffs around the nation who oppose federal gun control in one form or another. In Colorado, 55 of the state’s 62 sheriffs banded together to sue the state government to overturn the strict gun laws that passed the state legislature in 2013. (The case was dismissed).
The founder of the CSPOA, a former Sheriff from Arizona, says that sheriffs are upholding their duties by opposing gun control.
“I studied what the Founding Fathers meant about the Second Amendment, the right to keep and bear arms, and the conclusion is inescapable,” said Richard Mack, the founder of CSPOA. “There’s no way around it. Gun control in America is against the law.”