Oneida County Sheriff Maciol’s position on the NY SAFE act

Sheriff Maciol responds to the New York SAFE Act.

Over the past few weeks, a number of county residents have inquired as to Sheriff Maciol’s position regarding the recently passed New York SAFE Act.  Sheriff Maciol had this to say, “As a gun owner and strong supporter of the Second Amendment, I do not support any part of this law that restricts the law abiding citizens of Oneida County and standby the position previously articulated by the New York State Sheriffs’ Association.”

Since Governor Cuomo’s announcement of the NY SAFE Act, Sheriff Maciol, along with  Undersheriff Robert Swenszkowski, have been diligently educating themselves about this new law.  As it pertains to the NY SAFE Act, the Sheriff and Undersheriff have researched the powers of the Office of Sheriff, related case law, and statutory duties, in order to evaluate the legal authority of the Sheriff.  “It is not my prerogative to pick and choose which laws I want to enforce and which I don’t.  Such discrimination would be merely a different form of the “tyranny” which some feel the NY SAFE Act embodies.” said Sheriff Maciol.  The Sheriff believes that such arbitrary use of executive power to determine who shall be subject to the law and who shall not, is the very definition of tyranny.

The Sheriff cannot abstain from enforcing laws based on his own interpretation that it may conflict with the Constitution.  Chief Justice John Marshall famously said, “It is emphatically the province and duty of the Judicial Department to say what the law is.”  Accordingly, it is up to the court system to decide whether the law is unconstitutional or not.  This is a basic function of our system of checks and balances between the three branches of government, and is reserved entirely to the judiciary.  The process of judicial review is already at work throughout New York in a number of cases brought before various courts in the state.  A Buffalo-area lawyer has gone to court contending the ban is unconstitutional and a judge there has ordered the state to answer by April.  Over 1000 people that have joined as plaintiffs and filed suit in Albany County Court contending the governor’s use of a Message of Necessity to push the bill through was flawed.  State lawyers will have to be in court on March 11, 2013 to explain why the court shouldn’t issue an injunction halting the law.  Additionally, there is a pending lawsuit originating out of Westchester County also addressing the NY SAFE Act.  This is the process that citizens must abide by, which was established by our founding fathers.  There also remains the possibility of the repeal of the NY SAFE Act through legislative action.  Citizens are encouraged to contact their respective Senators and Assemblypersons to give them input on this issue.

During the 2013 New York State Sheriff’s Association’s winter conference, Sheriff Maciol, along with Undersheriff Swenszkowski, participated in the drafting of the NYSSA letter in response to the NY SAFE Act and continue to stand by the responsible actions of the Association and its members.  The NYSSA Association letter to Governor Cuomo was supported by Sheriff Maciol and 51 fellow Sheriffs of New York.

The NY SAFE act has a number of implementations that will help law enforcement and the public for enhancing effective gun control regarding individuals that should not have access to weapons.  However, there are many parts of this law, such as the redefinition of “assault weapon” and the ammunition capacity restraints, that will not contribute meaningfully towards crime prevention.  Sheriff Maciol believes restrictions in this law will only affect law abiding citizens and encroaches on the Second Amendment, and because of this he does not support it.  Sheriff Maciol states, “I consider the manner that the NY SAFE Act was deliberated and passed to be irresponsible and a disservice to the citizens of New York State .  I will continue to advocate that changes be made to the NY SAFE Act to restore the rights of gun owners that have been so carelessly taken away.”

The people of New York State are in a unique situation as they now have a state gun control law that is even more restrictive than the federal regulations being considered.  Sheriff Maciol is calling upon the NY State Senate and Assembly to revise the NY SAFE Act restrictions on magazine capacity, assault weapon classification, and registration of such weapons, to mirror the law prior to the NY SAFE Act being implemented.

Sheriff Maciol feels that In addition to the recommendations of the New York State Sheriff’s Association, focus should also be concentrated on the criminal element in relation to firearms enforcement.  Funding could then be directed to county law enforcement agencies in order to combat gun crimes and the criminals that possess guns illegally through the creation of task forces, localgun reward programs, and shared intelligence within the law enforcement community.

Sheriff Maciol declared, “I am fortunate to live in a country which allows me to voice my displeasure with the very law I am required to enforce.  But I cannot, in good conscience avail myself of one right conferred by the Constitution, and at the same time assume the authority conferred by that same document to others within our system of government.  To forego due process and ignore the law as it stands, would be an injustice to the people of this County, and would be as abhorrent to the Constitution as some say this new law is. Our government has a duty to its citizens to preserve their rights and not infringe upon them.  The office I hold is one of great importance. It calls for responsible decisions and actions.  I hold the Oath of Office I took to defend the Constitution very seriously and whole heartedly stand by it and the citizens of Oneida County .” 

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