Civil Disobedience: Gun Rights Group Vows to Ignore New York's Safe Act

| by Dabney Bailey
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New York’s Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act has had a rocky history. Gov. Andrew Cuomo pushed the bill through the legislature early January, and gun rights activists have been fighting against the new law ever since.

Some sheriffs have stated that they refuse to enforce the law, lawsuits threaten to defeat the law, and now gun rights proponents have promised to ignore the law completely.

Melody Burns, a New York talk show host, told gun supporters at a rally, “Do not comply. I just want to remind you — do not comply!”

She spoke to several hundred gun rights supporters who gathered around the state Capitol on Tuesday to protest the SAFE Act. Where protests and angry letters have failed in the past, these protestors hope to make an impact through civil disobedience. What good is a law when normally law-abiding citizens openly ignore it?

Ignoring a state law might seem risky, but these citizens have the support of law enforcement. Lewis County Sheriff Michael Carpinelli said at the rally, “I just want to tell you all: Thank you, don’t give up, keep using your voice.’ I am not about to enforce this act.”

Chemung County Sheriff Christopher Moss spoke with Gov. Cuomo last month in an attempt to get Cuomo to drop the law. Cuomo allegedly used the opportunity to tell the sheriffs to keep their opinions to themselves. “We told the governor that we were elected officials and we had a constituency just like he did, and that we were responsible to them, and we had the right as elected officials to give our opinion on the act,” Moss said.

It’s a sticky situation for the sheriffs. As elected officials (and as U.S. citizens in general), they are well within their rights to express their distaste for the SAFE Act. However, refusing to perform certain duties as public officials is grounds for dismissal, regardless of how much these sheriffs are personally opposed to the laws.

Right now, these sheriffs are acting as a buffer between the state and gun owners. If gun rights supporters no longer have an understanding with the local law enforcement, then their civil disobedience might end rather quickly with a few jail sentences. 

Source: Democrat and Chronicle