By William R Fox Sr, Chairman SCOPE Genesee County
Genesee County S.C.O.P.E. has worked on Second Amendment issues with our county sheriff and our county legislators since the end of 2018. As Chairman, I reached out to our county sheriff in December of 2018; we had heard what was coming out of Albany with the Red Flag Law, the so-called safe storage law, and the many other laws that were eventually voted through both houses without much significant opposition.
We decided that we wanted to start playing offense, for once, instead of constantly playing defense.
After much discussion, we finally got a meeting with the sheriff as well as others in his office and showed him all the bills that, at that time, were on the docket to be voted on. He said that he didn’t agree with most of them. What we really wanted was for him to say that he didn’t and wouldn’t agree with the Red Flag law.
While I was trying to set up the sheriff’s attendance at our May meeting, the Red Flag Law passed, along with others. The sheriff told me that he was still Second Amendment friendly, but he felt that the Red Flag Law would be a good thing; it would help them arrest people that needed to be arrested and to get guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them. I can’t tell you how disappointed I was - as was the rest of our chapter - and I let him know that.
The sheriff did come to our May meeting where he tried to explain his point of view and then we, in turn, gave him ours. He basically said that he will still pursue getting guns out of the hands of people when the judge decides there is a good reason that they should not have them. He told us that the sheriff’s department has had good luck, in the past, going to the house and talking to people; giving them the option to give their guns to a family member or to just give them to the sheriff until they can decide whether this person should or should not have them.
Again, we tried to explain to him that No Due Process is the whole problem with this law. He said that it really isn’t any different than getting a court order from the judge and, again, I told him that we do not need another law if we already have one.
The chapter brought a lot of points against his decision to be on board with this law.
Accompanying this article, you will see two letters: one that we wrote to the sheriff highlighting our meeting with him; and a second letter to our county legislators, state officials and our county clerk. We have put them on notice that we will be watching to see where this goes.
f you haven’t already had a discussion with your county sheriff, I suggest that you do so because we are running out of options to defeat these unconstitutional laws.
To all Genesee County Legislators, Genesee County Clerk and State officials:
S.C.O.P.E. Genesee County invited County Sheriff William Sheron to our meeting in May, and as you can see by our enclosed letter, we have some serious concerns. We brought them forward to the Sheriff, and his responses are included in the said letter.
We need to be vigilant in protecting the sovereignty that our forefathers have given us and so greatly sacrificed for. It is not the government’s job to be regulating“the right to bear arms”, as protected, not granted, by the 2nd Amendment.
The Red Flag Law, aka “extreme risk protection order law” is an extremely slippery slope for our country to be headed down. We do have a problem in society, for sure, but it is a moral and ethical problem that can and should be prevented and addressed from within one’s family circle with attentiveness and discipline.
Our organization has been working very hard to try and educate both lawmakers and citizens about these unconstitutional laws coming out of the NY City controlled Albany.
We have a real problem with the Sheriff’s stance on these issues, as he feels that there is enough “due process” built into the system to protect ones rights. His process for gun confiscation isn’t any different than what we had before, and he has that oversight, but our real issue is that if due process was really contained within these older laws, why do we need another law?
This law (ERPO) also allows for a family member, neighbor, teacher, misinformed or vengeful person to anonymously report, without due cause, and request the confiscation of one’s firearms prior to an official arrest or hearing before a judge in a timely manner.
The bottom line is that our constitution is being abandoned as officials see fit. When is it going to be enough that we put a stop to law abiding citizens having their rights taken away in the name of safety and security, when criminals don’t obey these laws anyway? As we brought to the Sheriff’s attention, he knows well that there have been criminals since the beginning of time, and there will be well after we have all left this life.
We have sent you this letter to make you aware that the people for whom you work will be watching to see that people’s rights are protected, not violated, because of what someone may erroneously may say or do.
We ask you, our elected officials, to be the men and women who will valiantly stand in the gap and protect the Constitution as well as the God given rights of your constituents.
William Fox, Chapter Chair SCOPE Genesee County
To Sheriff William Sheron:
Thank you being our guest speaker at the Genesee County chapter of SCOPE on May 15th. We appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedule to address the concerns of our members and affiliated associations regarding the numerous pending and enacted new gun laws in New York State. Listed below is a summary of our concerns that were discussed:
• It’s not just a 2nd amendment infringement, but also now the 1 st, 3rd, 4th and 5th. We look to you as being responsible for protecting our constitutional rights as the highest ranking law enforcement official in our county, state and country.
• Due process should be enacted within a reasonable amount of time, i.e. 24 hours, prior to confiscation of a citizen’s guns, a fundamental constitutional right.
• Taking the firearms from a “threatening person” then leaving that person in the home or neighborhood without immediately addressing the situation with a judge may leave them even more agitated and aggravated; hence, creating a bigger threat.
• Care should be taken in the handling of the guns if taken by authorities, noting that they are personal and expensive property.
• Safe return of the confiscated firearms to the original owner(s) within a reasonable period of time, i.e. 24 hours, not 3 months.
• Family members, i.e. husbands and wives, who own their own individual guns and having both parties’ guns taken, even if only one member is formally arrested; co-ownership issues.
• The SAFE Act restricts the transfer of firearms to other people without going through licensed dealers, except for transfers to spouses or children.
• The word "transfer" in the SAFE Act applies only to a change of ownership of the weapon and not giving it to somebody to hold for a period of time, i.e. family member, while the original owner retains “ownership”.
• Guarantee that there will be no violation of our search and seizure rights by the authorities, State Troopers, Sheriffs or police, by going door to door to confiscate their personal property, i.e. firearms.
• “Mandatory reporting” in effect for teachers and administrators; handled internally and reports not forwarded to the outside law enforcement due to the “black eye” effect.
• Ammo purchases under the new safe storage act are now in violation. • Youth trap leagues are in jeopardy.
• Gun raffles will not be allowed for First Responders, Firemen, to raise funds to purchase necessary medical equipment, trucks, training; increased tax burden to citizens.
• What will happen if we get an anti-gun or unsupportive sheriff or judge in the position? This process has been started by the current officials, and there won’t be any turning back.
• Aren't there enough laws on the books already? When will enough be enough of infringing on the law abiding citizen's rights?
• When will you take a stand against these unconstitutional laws?
The following is a summary of what we understand to be your interpretation and understanding of the SAFE Act, Red Flag Law and other NYS laws that have come into effect. We also interpret this as how you plan to move forward with these laws.
• There is ample due-process protections built into the current law, and it isn't any different than police obtaining a warrant to search or seize property.
• The person who must give up their guns is entitled to a hearing within three to six days (incorrect --10 days) and can appeal any subsequent ruling to a higher court.
• It is a useful tool for local law enforcement to help ensure that people who are a threat don't have easy access to firearms.
• When police are dealing with a person who may be a threat to himself or others, it is best for a friend or family member to take possession of their firearms for safekeeping until things cool down, or when the person is under less stress… still the default option for deputies. Sheriffs’ practice of letting a friend or family member take temporary possession of firearms violates the SAFE Act.
"The claim and exercise of a constitutional right cannot thus be converted into a crime." ". . .there can be no sanction or penalty imposed upon one because of his exercise of constitutional rights." ... For it is a felony and federal crime to violate or deprive citizens of their constitutionally protected rights. Mar 27, 2009.
William R Fox Sr, Chairman SCOPE Genesee County