Robert Milby, Wayne County’s new sheriff, has been in law enforcement most of his adult life, earning praise and promotions for conscientious service. But recently, Sheriff Milby has attracted attention for a different approach to the law: ignoring it.
Sheriff Milby is among at least a half-dozen sheriffs in upstate New York who have said they have no intention of aggressively enforcing gun regulations that state lawmakers passed last summer, forbidding concealed weapons in so-called sensitive areas — a long list of public spaces including, but not limited to, government buildings and religious centers, health facilities and homeless shelters, schools and subways, stadiums and state parks, and, of course, Times Square.
“It’s basically everywhere,” said Sheriff Milby, in a recent interview in his office in Wayne County, east of Rochester. “If anyone thinks we’re going to go out and take a proactive stance against this, that’s not going to happen.” …
“I have to enforce it because I swore to uphold the laws, but I can use as much discretion as I want,” said Richard C. Giardino, the Republican sheriff in Fulton County, northwest of Albany. “If someone intentionally flouts the law, then they’re going to be handled one way. But if someone was unaware that the rules have changed, then we’re not going to charge someone with a felony because they went into their barbershop with their carry concealed.”
Such criticism has been heard from Greene County, in the Hudson Valley, to Erie County, home to Buffalo, the state’s second-largest city, as well as from groups like the New York State Sheriffs’ Association, which called the new law a “thoughtless, reactionary action” that aims to “restrain and punish law-abiding citizens.”
“We will take the complaint, but it will go to the bottom of my stack,” said Mike Filicetti, the Niagara County sheriff, who appends a Ronald Reagan quote to his emails. “There will be no arrests made without my authorization and it’s a very, very low priority for me.”
— Jesse McKinley and