Erie County has seen a strong resistance to the NY SAFE Act.  In addition to local gun rights advocates, several elected officials, including the county’s top cop, have been vocal critics of the law.

“I believe in my heart and my soul that it’s unconstitutional,” said Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard.

The Republican Sheriff has not only joined a lawsuit seeking to overturn the SAFE Act, he announced last week he won’t enforce it.  It’s a position that’s made him a target.

“We elect a sheriff. We don’t elect a king. Kings get to make their own laws. Sheriffs get to follow the laws as written,” State Assemblyman Sean Ryan said. 

The Buffalo Democrat said Howard’s refusal to enforce the SAFE Act could literally put people’s lives at risk.  Those convicted of domestic violence, who have an order of protection against them, would have their firearms confiscated under the SAFE Act. 

“Safety of victims of domestic violence isn’t a Republican or Democratic issue. It’s an issue for all society to be concerned with,” Ryan said.

Howard balked at the suggestions his opposition to the law would put anyone in the community in danger, and suggested the SAFE Act is the real public threat. 

“That is endangering people inNew York. It’s endangering the public and it’s endangering police and we’re supposed to say oh thank you, we’ll accept this and say nothing about it?” Howard asked.

Howard said his office is committed to protecting victims of domestic violence with the laws already on the books.  In the wake of the Vito Lopez scandal, Howard questioned whether or not an Assembly Democrat should be raising the issue.

“Let them go back and get their own house in order, particularly if he wants to talk about domestic violence,” said Howard. 

Howard pointed out that the district attorney has the ability to file charges under the SAFE Act.  For Ryan that’s not good enough.

“As a top law enforcement individual in the county, your job is to enforce the laws. You don’t have the authority to pick and choose,” Ryan said.

Ryan suggested the Governor could remove Howard from office for not enforcing the law.  Howard had a simple message response.

“If he thinks he can, go ahead and try,” Howard added.