Sheriff should enforce law while working to reverse it

On Jan. 11, a significant number of private citizens gathered at the Springville Field and Stream Club for an event billed as “Shot Heard around New York State.” The assembled protesters exercised their First Amendment rights and rallied against the NY SAFE Act. Because of the controversial nature of this legislation, its ultimate fate seems likely to be decided by the courts. This is exactly the way that our political system is meant to function.

However, there was at least one participant at the rally who appears not to respect our democratic system of government. Erie County Sheriff Timothy Howard had every right to attend and protest as a private citizen. But he attended in full uniform, and spoke against the SAFE Act, in what uninformed members of the public could easily construe as a statement of official public policy. Howard has previously stated that he would not enforce the SAFE Act.

It appears he feels that the privilege of his office and his rights supersede the constitutional rights of supporters of the SAFE Act. If trampling on the rights of others and failing to uphold his oath of office are indeed his intent, it would be interesting to know what Howard feels democracy is, and how he would define a police state.

If the sheriff’s future conduct is to continue in the same manner as he has previously exhibited, perhaps he would like to address why he should not be officially censured, suspended, recalled or even prosecuted.

Charles J. Mohr