We’re still a couple of years away from New York’s next gubernatorial election, but Lewis County Sheriff Michael P. Carpinelli is already throwing his hat into the ring. On Thursday, the upstate sheriff announced that he’s running for the Republican nomination in 2022 with a couple of swipes at current governor Andrew Cuomo.
During his announcement speech, he did not mention the governor by name, but alluded that the state is “under a regime that has not been a fair representative of everyone, hasn’t been fair at all to the police community or all first responders.”
He did not give further explanation of the claim.
“This state can’t be separated. It can’t be taken and seceded like a certain person said he wanted to do. This state can’t silence people like a certain person said he wanted to do,” Mr. Carpinelli said, perhaps alluding to one of the governor’s speeches.
In December 2018, Gov. Cuomo gave a speech at the state Bar Association in which he said, “Let this agenda be New York’s Declaration of Independence. We declare independence from this federal government’s policies. We disconnect from the nationalism, and the racism, and the chaos, and the xenophobia, and the misogyny, and the discrimination, and the dissembling of this Washington administration.”
Back in February, Sheriff Carpinelli joined me on Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co. to talk about a proposed ordinance in Lewis County that would prohibit county funds from being used to enforce New York gun laws. While Carpinelli wasn’t the one who suggested the ordinance, he did back the proposal and said he was willing to risk being removed from office by Gov. Cuomo over the issue. As the sheriff told me, while he took an oath of office to execute the laws of New York, he believes that when those laws conflict with the U.S. Constitution he is duty bound to follow the higher law.
The sheriff has been an outspoken advocate of the right to keep and bear arms long before the Second Amendment Sanctuary movement began to take hold in New York. Back in 2015, after the shootings in San Bernardino, California, Carpinelli publicly urged residents to exercise their Second Amendment rights to protect themselves and their community.
As the debate over guns intensifies, Carpinelli said now is an essential time for gun owners to protect their Second Amendment right. “When you exercise your right and your privileges, you maintain them. When you don’t, at times, we tend to lose them,” he explained.
On Facebook, the debate in response to Carpinellis’s opinion rages on. A lot of people agreed with the Sheriff. But other Lewis County residents said they don’t trust all gun owners are responsible. One commenter wrote, “This is not the Wild West.” Another wrote, “What would be the sense of having any police force if everyone is now going to be encouraged to be armed?”
Carpinelli said he doesn’t understand that logic. “We encourage our youth when they turn 18 to go out and get driver licenses. Does that mean that every kid that gets their license runs their car into a school building or a parade? No.” he argued. So I think it’s ridiculous for people to say that if you give someone the right to have a gun or a license to have it they’ll go out and do crazy things.” Carpinelli also said most licensed gun owners are responsible citizens who follow, not break, the law.
The first step in Carpinelli’s campaign is gathering some 15,000 signatures from voters in order to officially be placed on the ballot in the Republican primary. Given his support for the Second Amendment, it shouldn’t be too difficult for the sheriff to meet that threshold, particularly in upstate New York where Gov. Cuomo’s SAFE Act is still wildly unpopular. There will undoubtably be more candidates announcing their own run for the Republican nod in the months ahead, but it’s great to know there’s going to be at least one strong advocate for the Second Amendment in the race.