Sheriff must enforce laws

Fulton County Sheriff Thomas Lorey is one of a number of county sheriffs across New York state who have taken a stand against the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013. Lorey has joined with other sheriffs in a federal lawsuit challenging some of the provisions of the gun regulation, which was passed in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., elementary school massacre.

While Lorey and the other sheriffs certainly have the right to challenge the constitutionality of the SAFE Act in court, we believe Lorey went too far when he stated publicly at a Jan. 11 anti-SAFE Act rally that he would not enforce “any part of the SAFE Act until it goes through the courts and is finally decided.”

It’s inappropriate for law-enforcement officials to decide which laws they will or won’t enforce based on their own interpretation of the Constitution. It may well be the courts will decide to eliminate parts of the SAFE Act, and it may be true that aspects of the law are unwise or unworkable, but those things are not for Lorey or the other sheriffs to decide on their own.

There are many controversial laws that honorable people can and do disagree with, but law-enforcement officials should maintain a dispassionate, apolitical approach to enforcing the law because that’s their job and our system of justice. Lorey has provided honorable service over the years, but his statement could cause some to question how he might handle other laws he personally disagrees with.