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Letter: Sheriff took an oath, he must enforce laws

Sheriff took an oath, he must enforce laws

Recently, Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard was on Tom Bauerle’s radio program speaking about the NY SAFE Act and possible federal legislation that would empower federal agents within some states to enforce state laws, including gun laws.

Howard’s opinion that the act is unconstitutional and over-reaching is well-known and I, personally, agree with him. I strongly disagree with him when he indicates that he will not enforce the law.

During the interview, Howard stated, “We’re on a slippery slope.” He also said, “You can’t do something that you believe is unconstitutional.” Perhaps Howard should follow the lead of his predecessor, Pat Gallivan, and run for legislative office where laws are enacted rather than enforced.

An elected sheriff who chooses which laws to enforce and which ones to ignore concerns me. Howard took an oath to “uphold the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the state of New York.” His oath did not state that he could pick and choose those laws that he believed were constitutional, nor did it authorize him to withhold constitutional protections.

That “slippery slope” that Howard mentions is right here in Erie County, where an elected sheriff will not honor his oath of office and where constitutional guarantees are only guaranteed to some. The SAFE Act will most likely meet its demise in the state courts. Which laws or constitutional rights will this sheriff then choose to ignore?

Jennifer Common