Sheriffs and Prosecutors Vow to Resist New Gun Laws

 
Russian weapons designer Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov holding his best-known creation, the AK-47, 1997.

Across the country, law enforcement agencies are telling their legislatures that they’ve had enough. From several states, they have decided to join forces in refusing to enforce laws that inappropriately limit the Second Amendment. The movement is called “Second Amendment Sanctuary”:

For instance, in New Mexico, 30 of 33 county sheriffs have signed a letter pledging to not help enforce several gun-control measures supported by Democrats in Santa Fe, according to the state’s sheriff association. The sheriffs, who are elected, say they are heeding the wishes of voters in the counties they serve. More than two dozen counties in the state have enacted ‘sanctuary’ resolutions backing the sheriffs and affirming that no tax dollars in their jurisdictions should go to enforcing the proposed laws.

Those fighting back against the sheriffs have accused them of “going rogue.”

In New Mexico, the legislature is moving forward to require background checks for most private gun sales; they are also proposing a “mental health” measure to confiscate weapons from people who others identify as a threat. “Red flag” legislation has caused most of the resistance:

A New Mexico bill passed by the state House would allow family members or those close to a gun owner to ask a court to temporarily confiscate the person’s gun if they think the person poses an immediate danger to themselves or others.

New Mexico sheriffs say that they already have legal ways to disarm dangerous people in emergencies and that the bill fails to protect the due-process rights of gun owners subject to seizure orders. If the ‘red-flag’ bill becomes law, the sheriffs say they are prepared to get judges to reconsider seizure orders if they feel the gun owner hasn’t been granted due process, according to Cibola County Sheriff Tony Mace.

In Illinois, 60 counties have approved Second Amendment Sanctuary Resolutions; sheriffs in the state of Washington have also stated that a measure approved by voters last year is “unconstitutional and unenforceable.” Sheriffs in Colorado, California, Iowa, Idaho, and New York have also protested these new gun laws.

Why is this resistance happening now? For one, it is symptomatic of a disagreement between rural and urban areas. An entire state is being held accountable for enforcing stricter gun laws although overwhelmingly, most gun violence occurs in the cities. In addition, law enforcement is watching the continuous erosion of the Second Amendment and know these actions not only bode poorly for the citizenry, but eventually could limit law enforcement’s access to and use of guns.

I think the sheriffs and prosecutors are setting an excellent example of just one way to make life more difficult for those on the Left who want to impose foolish restrictions on the public for political gain. Could the sheriffs be pandering to the gun lobby? Perhaps. Ultimately, though, their own agencies could be at risk, and the time to act is now. I like what Sheriff Bob Songer of Klickitat County Washington told Reuters :

Unfortunately for the governor and the attorney general, they’re not my boss. My only boss is the people that elected me to office.

I hope we see even more resistance at many different levels against the infringement of our gun rights.

Published in Guns
Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s growing community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

There are 24 comments.

  1. Member

    Wow. How interesting!

    • #1
    • March 12, 2019, at 3:46 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  2. Member

    Do we decry sanctuary cities and support this? Although I have little knowledge of governance in the Southwest (or Washington or Illinois), this seems like a matter of whose ox is being gored.

    • #2
    • March 12, 2019, at 4:05 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  3. Inactive

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Do we decry sanctuary cities and support this? Although I have little knowledge of governance in the Southwest, this seems like a matter of whose ox is being gored.

    The difference is that those sheriffs are defending an inalienable right protected by the Constitution. Sanctuary cities are aiding and abetting illegal activity by foreigners to the detriment of law-abiding Americans.

    • #3
    • March 12, 2019, at 4:09 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  4. Member

    Hoyacon (View Comment):
    Hoyacon

    Do we decry sanctuary cities and support this? Although I have little knowledge of governance in the Southwest, this seems like a matter of whose ox is being gored.

    And just where in the Constitution do you see an Article or Amendment that supports the so-called “sanctuary city” movement?

    • #4
    • March 12, 2019, at 4:10 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  5. Member

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Do we decry sanctuary cities and support this? Although I have little knowledge of governance in the Southwest (or Washington or Illinois), this seems like a matter of whose ox is being gored.

    Is why I’m very careful about how I decry sanctuary cities. 

    • #5
    • March 12, 2019, at 4:13 PM PDT
    • Like
  6. Member

    Jim McConnell (View Comment):

    Hoyacon (View Comment):
    Hoyacon

    Do we decry sanctuary cities and support this? Although I have little knowledge of governance in the Southwest, this seems like a matter of whose ox is being gored.

    And just where in the Constitution do you see an Article that supports the so-called “sanctuary city” movement?

     Amendments 9 and 10, perhaps. 

    • #6
    • March 12, 2019, at 4:14 PM PDT
    • Like
  7. Member

    Mike "Lash" LaRoche (View Comment):

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Do we decry sanctuary cities and support this? Although I have little knowledge of governance in the Southwest, this seems like a matter of whose ox is being gored.

    The difference is that those sheriffs are defending an inalienable right protected by the Constitution. Sanctuary cities are aiding and abetting illegal activity by foreigners to the detriment of law-abiding Americans.

    Playing devil’s advocate to an extent, this may be a matter of perspective–more in the former case than the latter. I have no desire to defend sanctuary cities, but the question of whether these bills trample an “inalienable right” is a matter for the courts. I regard the ballot box and those actions that stem from electing certain people as a significant right itself. Can we really be worried about federal law enforcement attempting to overturn a presidential election and not be worried about local law enforcement defying “the will of the people” by disregarding certain laws enacted by elected officials?

    • #7
    • March 12, 2019, at 4:20 PM PDT
    • Like
  8. Member

    This is an urban vs rural divide, especially in the State of Washington. This will also come to Oregon in the near future. New Mexico is a mixed bag of artists and New Age types, but there are still enough county sheriff’s that have the support of rural residents that are not sleeping in yurts, pyramids, and are not making a living producing yard art – like a coyote wearing a bandana yard décor. California still has some deplorable holdouts. Arizona doesn’t have this problem at this time. 

    • #8
    • March 12, 2019, at 4:38 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  9. Thatcher

    Seattle basically runs the state of Washington. Good on those rural Sheriffs.

    • #9
    • March 12, 2019, at 5:19 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  10. Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    From what I’ve read, their resistance is to try to minimize the impact of the laws, rather than only defy them. It depends on the locale, the sheriff, and the law being passed.

    • #10
    • March 12, 2019, at 5:38 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  11. Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    From what I’ve read, their resistance is to try to minimize the impact of the laws, rather than only defy them. It depends on the locale, the sheriff, and the law being passed.

    I am uncomfortable to say the least on this issue, but where is the line between defying and minimizing impact? If something is truly discretionary, I trust law enforcement to know where to draw the distinction. And it’s a good thing for people to know the extent to which law enforcement disagrees with elected representatives. But if the law is clearly broken, the remedy is in the courts and at the ballot box.

    • #11
    • March 12, 2019, at 5:50 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  12. Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    From what I’ve read, their resistance is to try to minimize the impact of the laws, rather than only defy them. It depends on the locale, the sheriff, and the law being passed.

    I am uncomfortable to say the least on this issue, but where is the line between defying and minimizing impact? If something is truly discretionary, I trust law enforcement to know where to draw the line. And it’s a good thing for people to know the extent to which law enforcement disagrees with elected representatives. But if the law is clearly broken, the remedy is in the courts and at the ballot box.

    I think I understand what you are saying, @hoyacon. You’d like people to go through the court system in every state, maybe even to the Supreme Court, to prove the laws violate the Second Amendment. I guess I trust the discretion of the Sheriffs for now, since many are consulting with their county commissioners and the prosecutors, too, as well as with each other. Maybe they’ll realize that the best step is to take it to the courts so they don’t put themselves in jeopardy. I also hope there is a movement so significant by sheriffs that other states won’t continue to pass stupid legislation. I know–I’m dreaming.

    • #12
    • March 12, 2019, at 5:54 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  13. Member

    Hoyacon (View Comment):
    But if the law is clearly broken, the remedy is in the courts and at the ballot box.

    This is also a path to a remedy. There is more than one mechanism.

    • #13
    • March 12, 2019, at 6:00 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  14. Member

    Seems to me they are taking their oaths of office far more seriously than the pandering politicians in the legislature.

    • #14
    • March 12, 2019, at 6:34 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  15. Member

    Wise or foolish, the juxtaposition of “sanctuary” policies for invaders and for gun ownership provides an opportunity to get open-minded leftists thinking about the rule of law.

    • #15
    • March 12, 2019, at 6:49 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  16. Member

    Rodin (View Comment):

    Seems to me they are taking their oaths of office far more seriously than the pandering politicians in the legislature.

    What constitutes “pandering”? And, quite frankly, who appointed certain sheriffs to decide where to draw the line on the Constitution?

    This is a difficult issue for conservatives because of our Second Amendment sympathies. Yet we usually support “the system.” I have no issue with law enforcement speaking out about the passage of certain laws. I do have a problem with defiance of those laws by those who were not elected to defy them.

    • #16
    • March 12, 2019, at 6:56 PM PDT
    • Like
  17. Member

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Rodin (View Comment):

    Seems to me they are taking their oaths of office far more seriously than the pandering politicians in the legislature.

    What constitutes “pandering”? And, quite frankly, who appointed certain sheriffs to decide where to draw the line on the Constitution?

    This is a difficult issue for conservatives because of our Second Amendment sympathies. Yet we usually support “the system.” I have no issue with law enforcement speaking out about the passage of certain laws. I do have a problem with defiance of those laws by those who were not elected to defy them.

    So if you are in the military and are ordered to commit a war crime, then who are you to defy an order? Your reductionism glosses over a lot of questions regarding the potential conflicts in an obligation to honor the constitution while executing the laws. 

    • #17
    • March 12, 2019, at 7:08 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  18. Thatcher

    Rodin (View Comment):

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Rodin (View Comment):

    Seems to me they are taking their oaths of office far more seriously than the pandering politicians in the legislature.

    What constitutes “pandering”? And, quite frankly, who appointed certain sheriffs to decide where to draw the line on the Constitution?

    This is a difficult issue for conservatives because of our Second Amendment sympathies. Yet we usually support “the system.” I have no issue with law enforcement speaking out about the passage of certain laws. I do have a problem with defiance of those laws by those who were not elected to defy them.

    So if you are in the military and are ordered to commit a war crime, then who are you to defy an order? Your reductionism glosses over a lot of questions regarding the potential conflicts in an obligation to honor the constitution while executing the laws.

    Members of the US military are trained to be able to identify illegal orders and are required to not take them.

    • #18
    • March 12, 2019, at 7:18 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  19. Member

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Rodin (View Comment):

    Seems to me they are taking their oaths of office far more seriously than the pandering politicians in the legislature.

    What constitutes “pandering”? And, quite frankly, who appointed certain sheriffs to decide where to draw the line on the Constitution?

    This is a difficult issue for conservatives because of our Second Amendment sympathies. Yet we usually support “the system.” I have no issue with law enforcement speaking out about the passage of certain laws. I do have a problem with defiance of those laws by those who were not elected to defy them.

    Before the Civil War there were several jurisdictions in northern states that defied the federal government when it came to enforcing the fugitive slave laws. Nowadays we look on those resisters as good guys. There were a couple of hotbeds of defiance in southwest Michigan, where I live now. Some of the resisters were individuals, but state and local governments also resisted. 

    After the Civil War there were jurisdictions in the south that defied the federal government when it came to Reconstruction. Some of the resisters were individuals, and some were state and local governments. Nowadays we look on those resisters as bad guys who created problems that we are still living with.

    I have a problem with simple formulas for how these things should work.

    • #19
    • March 12, 2019, at 11:10 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  20. Member
    1. There is a spectrum of laws the state legislature might enact that would generate more or less public sympathy for sheriffs who think they could not enforce them. For example, if the state legislature passed a law that said, “It is unlawful for any person who is not an employee of the government to possess a firearm,” many people would understand why a sheriff would not enforce that law. The law clearly violates the rights of the people. There may be some question about whether the particular law in New Mexico rises to that level.
    2. Which brings up that the sheriffs are refusing to enforce particular laws that the sheriffs have concluded violate the rights of the people, based on other laws that supersede the laws of New Mexico (the US Constitution). The sheriffs are not (as I understand it) refusing to enforce any law related to firearms – just particular ones. Here are two contrasts with the refusal by immigration sanctuary cities: i) the immigration sanctuary cities are blanket refusing to cooperate on enforcing any immigration laws, not just specific immigration laws; and ii) the immigration sanctuary cities are refusing the cooperate on enforcing the law based on policy, not based on any argument that the immigration laws violate some superseding law.
    • #20
    • March 13, 2019, at 4:21 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  21. Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    I’ve been mulling over this post, and especially @hoyacon‘s comments, since I am a person who believes in following the law. I probably would not have been the person who broke the law to answer a more important calling. So I’m wondering why all these sheriffs, who are probably oriented similarly to my own beliefs, if not more, would risk defying, or potentially defying, the law.

    I suspect (and it’s only a guess) that many of them from a global perspective are disgusted by the Left’s efforts to take away our rights. The Second Amendment, in particular, is not just about owning guns and the regulations that go with it. When you come right down to it, guns are our last resource to protect ourselves from tyranny. They aren’t just for sport, but ultimately they help us protect our families. I’m always reminded of the stories that when the state convinces people to give up their guns, all is lost.

    I wonder if these sheriffs are making a shot across the bow (okay, pun intended). That they are making a stand, not as a group of gun nuts, but as enforcers of the law, the men and women who protect us from tyrannical forces, who are meant to keep the justice. I suspect, although it’s easy to skim over, that many of them are verbally protesting, and may try to work around the law as much as possible (like those areas where they have authority), such as red flag cases, which could be mightily abused. I know these cases ultimately must be proved, but how long will that take, and how long will the person be left unarmed and vulnerable.

    Whether their protests are effective, time will tell.

     

    • #21
    • March 13, 2019, at 6:17 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  22. Member

    @susanquinn , I see the possibility that at least some of the sheriffs may be “saber-rattling” (to borrow another weapons related metaphor).

    Nonetheless, some of them may also be reflecting another aspect of the rural / urban divide. Much of New Mexico is very sparsely populated. People use firearms as tools of their livelihood, to protect themselves, their families, and their livestock from animal predators. They may also need to self-protect against the occasional criminal (the nearest sheriff’s substation may be 30 – 45 or more minutes away). So, the sheriffs may see an armed populace as a necessary ally. 

    • #22
    • March 13, 2019, at 6:51 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  23. Coolidge

    When an unconstitutional process like a “red flag” law can deprive you of your guns that you are otherwise owning legally, your second amendment rights are being infringed upon. New Mexico Governor Grisham is speaking out of both sides of her mouth.

    • #23
    • March 13, 2019, at 12:11 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  24. Thatcher

    I am all for this, and it gives me hope when the left comes house to house for guns, all law enforcement won’t participate. 

    • #24
    • March 14, 2019, at 4:45 AM PDT
    • 5 likes