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Sheriff Howard: No edict to deputies on SAFE Act

Jim Ranney/WBFO News

Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard is clarifying his recent comments regarding New York's new gun control law.Howard made headlines last week when he said he would not enforce the NY SAFE Act.  Today he told reporters that he has not issued any formal order to his deputies not to enforce the law, saying officers have some discretion in how they exercise the law.

"Deputies are free, or have the opportunity to a certain level, to decide how to spend their resources," Howard said.

"I'm not going to waste the resources, our limited resources of overworked deputies, by telling them to enforce something that has very little chance of surviving in the courts."

The sheriff says he believes the law is unenforceable and will eventually be declared unconstitutional. He told reporters Thursday that his opposition to the law does not mean he rejects all laws pertaining to gun control.

"I believe in enforcing the laws we've already got instead of being a politician that pretends to make us safer because they pass a law without talking to the people that have to enforce it...that do the prosecutions to see it's not going to work.  It's not going to make us safer," Howard said.

Howard has received both praise and criticism for his opposition to New York's new gun control law. Critics say the sheriff can not pick and choose the laws he wants to enforce.

Howard, who is running for re-election this year, has filed a 'friend of the court' brief in a lawsuit seeking to overturn the SAFE Act.