In the wake of the first anniversary of the Newtown, Conn., school shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School and another gun tragedy in Colorado, the nation continues to debate ways to reduce gun violence. Many states, including Connecticut, Maryland, New York, and Delaware, have passed new laws requiring background checks for all gun purchases and prohibitions on certain types of guns despite vocal opposition from National Rifle Association and others. However, implementing these new laws may be more difficult than lawmakers anticipated, as an article in the New York Times points out.
In Colorado, where another gun-fueled tragedy unfolded at Arapahoe High School, some county sheriffs are choosing not to enforce new gun laws, drawing attention to governance issues in an already thorny area of public policy.
“Some sheriffs, like Sheriff Cooke, are refusing to enforce the laws, saying that they are too vague and violate Second Amendment rights. Many more say that enforcement will be “a very low priority,” as several sheriffs put it. All but seven of the 62 elected sheriffs in Colorado signed on in May to a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the statutes.”
While the coalition of sheriffs is unlikely to actually change existing gun-control laws, the public opposition of a growing number of sheriffs across the country has highlighted a divide between rural and urban law enforcement responsibilities. In parts of the country where guns are popular, legislation may not be enough to guarantee enforcement, which may put lawmakers in a tricky situation. As more states mull more gun-control legislation, the implementation of gun laws may become even more important.