A high-profile former sheriff who once sued the U.S. government over its gun regulations – and won – says it’s the local sheriff who will have to defend Americans when and if the feds start banning and confiscating guns.
Richard Mack, a former sheriff in Graham County, Ariz., joined with then-Ravalli County Sheriff Jay Printz in a lawsuit against Washington when Bill Clinton demanded sheriffs enforce provisions of the Brady Bill gun-control law.
He won. And since then he’s been at the front of a movement that highlights the responsibility of local sheriffs.
Now, as Washington gears up to consider imperious plans to limit guns, require fingerprinting and registration, impose additional taxes and fees, ban particular features or functions outright, and even confiscate weapons of self-defense, Mack has told WND that there’s hope remaining in local law enforcement.
It’s not complicated, he said.
“Gun control is illegal, and it’s against the Constitution,” he said. “What people don’t realize is that the Second Amendment was designed to protect us from the power of the federal government.”
He said he would expect sheriffs across the country to defend the rights of ordinary Americans.
“I hope and pray America’s sheriffs won’t allow any more gun control,” Mack said. “The sheriffs need to be united in letting the federal government know that we’re not going to allow it.
“In the ’90s when I was the sheriff of Graham County, Ariz., we worked with other sheriffs and stopped two or three Brady Bills,” he recalled, a fight that he’s been detailing in seminars with sheriffs.
He said the office is critical, as it’s not only in law enforcement, but also is elected directly by the people.
“Out of 200 sheriffs with whom I’ve met, I’ve only had one give me a wishy-washy answer. That one said he would try to take the federal government to court,” Mack said. “Most of them have said they would lay down their lives first rather than allow any more federal control. They also said they would do everything they could to stop gun control and gun confiscation.”
Alan Stang at News With Views wrote about another battle Mack encountered while sheriff. A bridge had washed out and parents were driving children 26 miles to school, which physically was located only half a mile across a river.
The county decided the fix the bridge and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers warned that an environmental study alone would take 10 years. Mack promised to provide protection for the workers, and said he’d call out a posse if needed.
The bridge was built.
Stang wrote about other close encounter between sheriffs and the feds:
“In 1997, in Nye County, Nev., federal agents arrived to seize cattle that belonged to rancher Wayne Hage. The sheriff gave them a choice: skedaddle or be arrested. They skedaddled. … In Idaho, a 74-year-old rancher shot an endangered gray wolf which had killed one of his calves. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sent three armed agents to serve a warrant. Lemhi County Sheriff Brett Barslou said that was ‘inappropriate, heavy-handed and dangerously close to excessive force.’ More than 500 people turned out for a rally in the small towns of Challis and Salmon to support the sheriff and the rancher and to tell the federal government to back off.”
Mack, who’s written “The Magic of Gun Control,” said if there is an actual specific plan to start taking Americans’ weapons, he expects a response.
“If the federal government wants to start a new Civil War, all they need to do is go ahead with gun confiscation,” Mack said.
“We are not going to back down. We are not going to give in. And we are not going to concede one more inch,” Knox said.
He was responding to questions about America’s response to plans like those from Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., to demand gun registration, bans and fingerprinting in the wake of the Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut.
“Unfortunately, the president and other anti-rights politicians are not doing anything to keep what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary from happening again,” he said. “Instead they are going after law-abiding gun owners and targeting commonly owned firearms and ammunition feeding devices. Their proposed restrictions on these items would have had no impact on what happened at Sandy Hook, and, if passed, would not stop the next craven murderer from wreaking just as much havoc and destruction.”
Gun Owners of America Executive Director Larry Pratt shares Mack’s opinion.
“The county sheriffs need to act and make new deputies to stop federal authority in the counties,” Pratt told WND. “This is a defensible idea. He can deputize people to serve since they are the ones who voted for him to represent them. A lot of citizens would stand up for their Second Amendment rights if they were protected by the sheriff.”
He cited a move that already is surging among states to adopt laws and use the Tenth Amendment to curb federal activity. The Tenth Amendment simply reserves to the states and the people all responsibilities not specifically assigned to Washington in the Constitution.
Pratt noted the move that over the past few years has seen eight states adopt laws that exempt firearms made, sold and kept in the state from federal oversight. The federal government has taken the issue to court, where it remains at this point.
“A number of states are passing laws that use the Tenth Amendment to curb federal control. Their law says that if a gun is made in the state and sold in the state, that the federal government has no control over it,” Pratt said.
He provided additional examples of what already has resulted from sheriffs’ disputes with the feds.
“In Elkhart County, Ind., there was a farmer who produced raw milk. The Department of Justice was investigating the farmer and was trying to shut down the farm,” Pratt said. “Elkhart County Sheriff Brad Rogers defended the farmer by saying that without a warrant signed by a judge and without probable cause, they had no jurisdiction to investigate the farmer within his jurisdiction of Elkhart County.”
“Rogers said that if they didn’t leave, he would arrest them. The DoJ threatened to arrest him, but Rogers sent his deputies to defend the farmer,” Pratt said. “The feds have had to back off.”
He also said local officials in New Mexico burned trees from a small parcel of federal land to halt a raging forest fire.
“The sheriff is the chief officer in the county even on federal land if the land is in the county,” Pratt said.
But Washington is not idle. Barack Obama said he will put the weight of his office behind gun control, and Feinstein even has proposed a federal gun buyback program that has been endorsed by about 40 members of Congress.
Feinstein’s dedication to eliminating the Second Amendment is unquestioned.
The California Democrat was one of sponsors of the so-called “Brady Bill,” the 1995 “assault weapons” ban. Faced with the limitations placed in the version that was making its way through Congress, Feinstein said, “If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States, for an outright ban, picking up every gun in America, Mr. and Mrs. America, turn ‘em all in.”
Mack, who is also the founder of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, said Feinstein is a “polimagician,” a political leader who believes his or her policies will work magic for their constituents.
“They think they’re special and better than everyone else. Feinstein’s [own] concealed carry permit is the product of this elitist attitude,” Mack said. He said Congress and Obama simply are loading their political agenda onto the backs of the victims of Sandy Hook.
He said gun control through history produces one result: “Genocide.”
Pratt warned that Washington’s strategy will accomplish nothing but creating vast new ranks of felons in America.
“A lot of Americans spend an awful lot of money on these guns. I don’t think there will be very many who will willingly accept $200 for a gun that they paid $500 to $1,000 for,” Pratt said.
The last two major gun rights cases that went before the U.S. Supreme Court were decided in favor of gun rights, and as a followup the Second Amendment Foundation has been taking on local and state restrictions.
Recently, a federal judge struck down a North Carolina provision that authorizes a ban on firearms and ammunition outside homes during “a declared emergency,” determining that violates the Second Amendment.
WND reported earlier when residents of King, N.C., were startled by the banishment of firearms during a “declared snow emergency.”
Judge Malcolm J. Howard wrote, “[T]he court finds that the statutes at issue here are subject to strict scrutiny. … While the bans imposed pursuant to these statutes may be limited in duration, it cannot be overlooked that the statutes strip peaceable, law abiding citizens of the right to arm themselves in defense of hearth and home, striking at the very core of the Second Amendment.”
“When SAF attorney Alan Gura won the Heller case at the Supreme Court,” noted SAF Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb, “the gun ban crowd said that we were a ‘one-trick-pony’ and that we would never knock out another gun law. Well, SAF has now knocked out gun laws in Maryland, Illinois and North Carolina.”