sheriffs enforce gun control laws
Courtesy Jeff Hulbert
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Uh oh. The New York Times has finally noticed that sheriffs in Illinois, Washington, Nevada, New Mexico and even Maryland have vowed not to enforce new gun control laws. It looks like the extent of the problem is finally starting to sink in.

(Washington Attorney General Bob) Ferguson has warned the sheriffs that they have a legal responsibility to enforce the new law in the same manner they are sworn to uphold other laws prohibiting criminal activity.

“Local law enforcement officials are entitled to their opinions about the constitutionality of any law, but those personal views do not absolve us of our duty to enforce Washington laws and protect the public,” Mr. Ferguson wrote in a letter last month.

But Bob Songer, the sheriff of Klickitat County, a rural county in southern Washington, said that the law violated gun owners’ rights.

“There is no way in hell I’m going to be going after their guns if they are honest citizens,” he said. “What I’ve told people is: I’m not giving up my guns, and I don’t expect them to give up theirs.”

The sheriff dismissed the pressure from the state’s attorney general to abide by the law.

“They are not the boss of the sheriff,” he said. “The only bosses I have are the voters of Klickitat County.”

– Simon Romero and Timothy Williams in When Sheriffs Say No: Disputes Erupt Over Enforcing New Gun Laws


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  1. It’s somewhat ironic when state officials refuse to enforce federal immigration laws and allow sanctuary cities to exist while at the same time telling sheriffs that they’re obligated to enforce state laws ‘to protect the public’.

    • That should be the standard reply to someone who says that, because the odds are pretty good that whoever says that is a-ok with sanctuary cities.

    • John McDonald,

      The statement from the Washington Attorney General is not “somewhat ironic”, it is a flat-out double standard.

      As usual, the ruling class adopts the, “rules for thee and none for me” mindset that we have seen for time immemorial.

    • “It’s somewhat ironic when state officials refuse to enforce federal immigration laws and allow sanctuary cities to exist while at the same time telling sheriffs that they’re obligated to enforce state laws ‘to protect the public’.”

      This again? Guns and new arrivals are not the same. Guns are inert objects, tools. New Arrivals are live people. No one NEEDS a gun, but we really need the new arrivals to keep the country going.

      Prices for everything are getting out of hand, and having people ready and available to work for below minimum wage (and vote the right way) are crucial to help the middle class. Besides, the new arrivals are what America is all about. The new arrivals are “…more American than any person who seeks to keep them out…”.* People born in the US have moved on from menial tasks, and into free spirited street entrepreneurship. And they need domestic workers because day care centers are too expensive.

      Truth is the birth rate in this country is declining, now below replacement numbers. New arrivals will replace all those children who aren’t born. We need new arrivals to restore the future workforce, and tax base. Growth in diversity brings us new ideas about what is important, what is needed. New arrivals have important experiences in music, food, entertainment, that we can’t experience if we don’t welcome people different from ourselves.

      We place so much value in education and making money, but the new arrivals can teach us about our selfishness, and how to have a fulfilling and robust life without all the wealth that Americans believe is the goal of life. Newcomers can show us how to thrive when everyone has enough of their needs met, and the wealth mongers are introduced to the social leveling that benefits everyone.

      So, strict gun regulation saves lives (proven science, no argument allowed), and unlimited immigration means we all are more tolerant, understanding, caring people.

      * Alexandria Occaisionally-Coherent

      • You said “proven science, no argument allowed” in regards to gun control which is a either a blatant lie or a simply serious misinformation. in rhetoric one can only validly claim a stance if they can cite CREDIBLE sources for the data. You sited nothing. I can cite dozens of sources that say you are completely wrong, that at the very least gun ownership has no correlation with violence or violent crime and may actually deter it.

        “More Guns, Less Crime” – John Lott – CDC US Firearms Mortality rates, notice that even for most states that have implemented gun control laws the death rates are basically unpredictable and often erratic. Gun ownership is on the rise significantly and the gun mortality rate is also on the rise just barely, yet gun control is on the decline and violent crime is on the decline. There is no trend whatsoever it seems from the raw data.
        “Penn and Teller: Bullsh*t” Season 3 Episode 9 – Penn and Teller

        That is just three obvious sources. The ones you will like claim as facts are like cherry picked data from *insert-biased-gun-control-organization-here* that has likely been targeted by its own allies as having incorrect data like Mom’s Demand Action, Washington Post, and Everytown have and as such are clearly unreliable sources, not even mentioning their clear loaded definitions of their own created terms.

        Just by this simple bit the rest of your argument should be ignored including that pathos based one on immigration, and I say that while not even being anti immigration. Also not accepting a dissenting argument as valid at all, that only your opinion that has no citations is correct is a sure sign of political elitist (read as tyrant) who believes their word should be unquestionable law.

        • “You said “proven science, no argument allowed” in regards to gun control which is a either a blatant lie or a simply serious misinformation.”

          Well, you asked for links to data proving gun control works. No need. Everyone knows it is true, just like they know night and day; no proof needed. When everyone knows something, it is so, period. Science deniers should be held criminally accountable for misleading the uninformed/conformed.

          “Also not accepting a dissenting argument as valid at all, that only your opinion that has no citations is correct is a sure sign of political elitist…”

          See above. When everyone knows something, that knowledge is not proof of elitism. How can it be elitism if everyone has the same knowledge/opinion?

          Oh, did you happen to follow the “*” to the bottom of the piece?

        • You must be new around here. 😉

          Sam is playing ‘Devil’s Advocate’ for fun, cash and prizes…

        • Sam, I don’t know if I should take your latest comment literally or as heavily dosed sarcasm.

          Even in the supposed gun free paradise of Australia, the 2nd largest city Melbourne has a gang war going on. Admittedly the total death and injury toll over 4-6 weeks is less than Chicago on a Tuesday morning but it is enough to make the news every day.

          And my postcode alone has over 15 thousand legally registered firearms that every day do nothing.

          Perhaps the USA should adopt the policies of gun free utopias such as Mexico or Venezuela where the government and their criminal cronies are in open war against their own citizens, or China where people can be arrested and detained in violation of their own due process, or Japan where rural areas are getting overrun with feral animals because no-one is hunting and organized crime syndicates are regarded as more aggressive corporate entities. Perhaps you should be happy with the status quo when compared with the alternatives.

          • “Sam, I don’t know if I should take your latest comment literally or as heavily dosed sarcasm.”

            The clues were all there. Did you follow the * ?

        • In accordance with Poe’s Law, you are hereby found guilty of confusing the hell out of people reading these comments.

        • Here we go again….

          This entire forum is mostly sarcasm but sometimes it is a good change of pace to fight an argument with actually rhetoric rather than humor. These are actually serious issues and some people who might want to see how to actually argue a topic rather than just say your stupid and make jokes would like to see it done from time to time.

          It seems you guys have missed my point and decided even though I was on your side and trying to show others on our side a simple effective rhetoric on how to deal with the normal arguments, as you were quite accurate in depicting how it usually goes with our opposition, somehow I am the moron?

          Oh on the point of sarcasm, if you are a writer like Jonathan Swift no notations are needed, but on a forum which is essential casual conversation without body language or in-person personality ques then notations are needed. I know you had the * Alexandria Occasionally-Coherrent but a note for (sarcasm) is better. If someone is new to the forum (I have been a reader for years) or simply doesn’t read in the same circles as most of us seem to then the notation is lost.

          • There is a lot in your comment, but let’s start with this, “… trying to show others on our side a simple effective rhetoric on how to deal with the normal arguments, as you were quite accurate in depicting how it usually goes with our opposition, somehow I am the moron?”

            Nowhere did I categorize anyone as a maroon; wasn’t my intention or need.

            Many here would like to discover a means of effectively engaging the anti-gun mafia. That means more than just using logic and fact. Effectively engaging the anti-gun mafia means an tool with which to convert the attackers to our camp; not happening. The only audience for “simple, effective rhetoric” are the unicorn herd of “undecideds”. The issue is not one of scoring debating points, but of changing an entire culture…and quickly.

            Sarcasm has two features/uses. One is to ridicule the opposition without being insulting. The other is just for fun and entertainment of tribe. If a posting or comment requires using the brain, being discerning, and avoiding superficial knee-jerk reaction, is that not all to the good?

      • Sam I Am talks about our selfishness, and equates America with wealth mongers. He sounds like all the extremist animal rights people I know who have a personality defect based on misanthropy — a human self-hatred. This self-hatred seems to have taken root in the entire Democrat Party and is rearing its ugly head with the embracing of socialism — which removes freedom from free societies. Also — make no mistake — the reason they want open borders is to gain power — which they will if successful!

      • I still cannot believe how utterly oblivious some of these idiots are to sarcasm. And telling them it’s sarcasm so they understand only serves to lower the collective intelligence of everyone in the room.

        • “And telling them it’s sarcasm so they understand only serves to lower the collective intelligence of everyone in the room.”

          Nicely done. Something for everyone. Maybe it should be considered a “complitique”? Nothing hidden…I think you composed a quite clever comment that few here (even me) could surpass.

          You do pose a dilemma. Explaining a joke means it was’t funny in the first place, but I hesitate to leave people in the dark about how to deconstruct sarcasm. Nothing is ever easy, is it?

        • “And telling them it’s sarcasm so they understand only serves to lower the collective intelligence of everyone in the room.”

          It also doesn’t work. People who don’t notice that * at the bottom, read what follows it and understand that the entire preceding set of statements was sarcasm are not going to understand that it was sarcasm when you tell them.

          It reminds me of a professor I had in college who got tired of telling people to read instructions so she wrote an exam that was a very lengthy set of instructions which at the end said “Disregard all previous statements, sign your exam book and turn it in”.

          More than half the class failed that exam.

        • Read my above comment…

          Add to it that if that many people cannot read and understand sarcasm without at least a direct notation on sarcasm, not an indirect as given, then it is a poor way to get a point across and should be revised.

          More to that point like I said I was giving a real rhetoric comment in contrast to Sam’s satire. Options right?

          Maybe you all need to take a class in reading between the lines too. I digress though, making fools of your allies only leads to resentment and enemies.

        • I just can’t resist….

          There was a quoted statement in the comment. At the end of that quote was an *. That commonly means there will be something related at the end of the article/comment. If you look closely at the * at the bottom of the comment, you will understand so much more.

  2. The Sheriffs should take this one step further and arrest any legislator that voted for these laws on criminal conspiracy charges.

    • pwrserge,

      The sad thing is, we already have federal laws in place for this very activity. Unfortunately, it appears that federal prosecutors never actually enforce it.

      • Sure they do.

        If you’re rich and bribed a college coach, SAT/ACT admin or proctor to get your kids into a private university with a good rep…

    • That wouldn’t work very well.
      The legislator who vote for this crap are almost all from King, Pierce, Snohomish, and Kitsap counties. They can get back and forth to Olympia without having to leave those four counties. So unless these sheriffs staged raids into other counties, they wouldn’t be able to arrest the legislators.

  3. Sheriff’s serve the voters and uphold the laws, not the politician who violate their oath of office…..
    You Sheriff’s have my support

  4. “(Washington Attorney General Bob) Ferguson has warned the sheriffs that they have a legal responsibility to enforce the new law in the same manner they are sworn to uphold other laws prohibiting criminal activity.”

    Yeah, coming from a ‘sanctuary city’ AG that’s a real whiz-gigger. “But only WE can exercise discretion! Obey us!” Screw these tools.

    • Dont forget about his complete blind eye to the drug problem in his state. Heroin dens…to protect the homeless drug addicts.

  5. The county sheriff IS the “chief law enforcement official in each county and IS required to uphold the Constitution of the USA and of the state.

    • Yes BUT, the sheriff has a great deal of discretion in which laws to enforce, and against whom to enforce them. The Sheriff has not DUTY to protect anyone from anything, just a general duty to do his job. And it is up to the electorate to decide whether he is doing a good job, not the State’s Attorney General.

  6. What is needed now is for these sheriff’s (and more importantly their departments) to begin demonstrating with gun rights folks in these areas.

    It is imperative that the urbanite leaders know that they will not be able to rely upon the police in these areas as they become more brazenly tyrannical. Let them know that while they may be able to use corrupt political appointments to keep compliant stooges in power within their little enclaves, they will not be able to project that power out into the hinterlands. And that if they force the issue, they will have a multitude of powerful enemies willing to resist them. This is beyond ‘politics,’ this is about strategy.

    • Unfortunately, most police departments will not be so independently minded and I doubt Sheriffs deputies will be going toe to toe with them any time soon.

      This comment system is really lousy.

  7. Long ago our LCH teacher & instructor warned of the moves politicians would take to thwart the intent and protection by the Second Amendment. Even then, he stated he’d NOT enforce measures designed to disarm the American people.

  8. I can’t read the NYT piece (paywall). Does it touch on the counter-argument to gun control (aside from its lack of association with firearm suicide and homicide rates) that enforcement will only happen in politically unprotected communities in Democrat-controlled urban areas, read: poor black neighborhoods? And enforcement will take the form of no-knock raids, stings, stop-and-frisk, and other 4A violations? I’d be surprised if the NYT bothers to cover the “disparate impact” angle but unintended consequences are not unforeseen. Their Gun War will resemble the Drug War.

  9. President Eisenhower will send in the Airborne with M1s locked and loaded and bayonets attached to force school de segregation and effectively end states rights.

    Oh wait….

  10. At the risk of sounding like my father, I fear for the future of this country. These are the events that lead to a civil war. The left leaning states are subverting the national laws in keeping illegal sanctuaries and areas populated by the right are refusing to support what is becoming an ever increasing pressure to dis-arm the citizenry. There are few paths that resolve these fundamental issues.

  11. Of course, these sheriffs aren’t the ones who invented this idea. Several “progressive” prosecutors have been refusing to prosecute certain crimes, like marijuana possession, for a little while now. Nobody gave them the authority to ignore duly enacted laws, either. The main difference is that there is a specific provision of the US constitution prohibiting the infringement of the people’s right to bear arms; there is no such provision for marijuana.

    • Exactly! Came here to post this same point.

      Either laws are laws and only get challenged in court and in future legislation, or laws are optional and we can pick and choose as much as they do!

  12. The sheriff himself probably sits at a desk all day while his deputies do actual enforcement. Does this non enforcement rule on second amendment restrictions hold true when one of their patrol guys wants to throw the book at some smartass?

  13. I noticed that the NYT very carefully does NOT provide the usual comments section on the article. This is my surprised face.

    • “I noticed that the NYT very carefully does NOT provide the usual comments section on the article.”

      Yeah, saw that. I think I know why –

      There’s no way they can defend ‘sanctuary cities’ and *not* ‘sanctuary 2A zones’ without looking like the hypocrites they really are…

  14. If I recall, several Sheriffs in NY announced their intention not to enforce various provisions of the “SAFE” (cough) act when it passed. I have heard of almost no law enforcement actions based on that law, though of course gun stores are in compliance, which is where the majority of enforcement happens.

    It’s never a good idea to pass laws that people won’t follow. All it does is create an environment where people become that much more willing to break laws. I’m not a military guy myself, but I seem to recall hearing about advice given to officers along these lines: don’t give an order you know won’t be followed.

    Anyway, I’m in favor of Sheriffs enforcing sanity through non-compliance if elected government refuses to keep its crazy in check.

    • Outlaw state of mind. I have no problem with that. Neither did my ancestors during the Revolution and subsequent. If I’m to be labeled an outlaw, might as well play the part.

    • The corollary in the Military is “never issue an order that you know will not be obeyed”.

  15. They won’t enforce 1 gun control law, they’ve had no problem enforcing the other 20,000+ ones.

  16. It’s about time to split the country up. Peacefully. Vote on it county by county Folks who don’t like the way their county votes can move. Large or very populous counties should be split up by precinct or other subdivision so that the most people within each area have a truly representative government.

    The alternative will look something like Haiti or Iraq or Syria.

    • How on earth would that work? Imagine the hassles currently experienced when, say, driving with a rifle or handgun from one state to another. Now imagine needing to know the laws county by county… or for two distinct countries, with a customs check and border enforcement every 20 miles or so. Picture this not just for guns, but for literally everything. Driving from my house to the largest city nearby would require a passport and two or three customs stops, armed or not.

    • They already know those gun laws are unlawful and unconstitutional but they will still enforce them with lethal force to keep their jewelery, costume and cushy benefits.

  17. Colorado is on this list to WRT our soon-to-be ERPO
    See rallyforourrights com
    The map is out of date, Douglas county just passed 2A sanctuary yesterday

    • Colorado is proving interesting in an area not directly related to guns, but instructive nonetheless.

      We have seen discussion here about ballot measures circumventing the representative form of government, with associated outrage about direct democracy. As explained to me, Colorado is rushing to duplicate California in detail. There is a robust energy industry in Colorado, and that upsets the nanny state. Apparently, there were two ballot initiatives over the last coupla legislative cycles, where the intent was to restrict proximity of energy development to residential (maybe also business) areas. One ballot measure would have essentially banned energy production anywhere in the state. Both ballot initiatives were handily defeated by the public, but this week, the legislature processed a bill to override the ballot initiative failures, doing what the democracy of the people couldn’t. And therein is the tale.

      To give the best motives to supporters of ballot measures, it is an opportunity to discipline representatives who ignore their constituents. The ballot initiative option is available to both left and right.

      Edmund Burke (1729-1797) mused on whether a member of parliament owed his loyalty to constituents, or the country. Burke apparently decided that constituents were secondary in matters of great importance to the nation. Essentially, representatives of the people were not meant to be message carriers only. The same dilemma faces our representatives today. But even that is not the instruction we get from Colorado regarding the energy industry. What we see in Colorado is the legislature wresting power back from the people. That is, if ballot measures pass, but the state legislature believes those measures are folly, the legislature can always put forth bills to overturn the ballot measure(s). What this means is the exercise of pure democracy (ballot measures) are not sacrosanct, immutable. So, if a state ballot measure bans whatever (guns?), the legislature can override the measure through legislative bills. When the people use democracy to damage our rights, the legislature can set things right, again.

      Politically, ballot measures are useful, in that politicians can encourage the voters to create an unpopular law, insulating legislators from public wrath at the next election. Even just the threat of a ballot measure can provide enough cover to allow lawmakers to get what they want, with little political risk. But, in the end, legislatures can, if it is advantageous, take power back, and pass a law neutralizing a ballot initiative.

      • As usual with government, you can get screwed from both ends on this.

        The progressive billionaires in Washington state have effectively hacked the initiative process to achieve totalitarian goals the legislature won’t entertain. And in WA, there’s a minimum of three years in which the legislature isn’t allowed to mess with a passed ballot initiative.

        So by the time it can be changed, there’s no momentum left to do it…or you’ve got a Democrat majority ready to heap more garbage on the statist dumpster fire.

        • It seems odd to suppose that “money” can buy what wasn’t for sale in the first place. One can observe money as a proxy for already existing preferences. Has anyone seen a study on the number of voters whose vote was changed solely by the introduction of massive amounts of cash by “outside interests”?

          I admit to not reviewing every piece of research conducted, so such an analysis may already exist, but it seems “outside money” only gives people the permission to do what they wanted, all along. Look at how all that progressive money failed to stop Trump. Well, Trump did lose the popular vote, but….

  18. “They are not the boss of the sheriff,” he said. “The only bosses I have are the voters of Klickitat County.”
    Here’s a Sheriff that knows his responsibilities and the law. Once they wake up to the power a County Sheriff wields, federal intimidation just fades to black…
    Probably read Sheriff Mack’s book, since every County Sheriff in the USA got a free copy. Once a Sheriff learns how much more power he has(only within his County though) than any State or Federal agent, they never go back to being an intimidated federal subject again. But quite a few will just take the handouts and do as they’re told instead. Some would rather be bought and paid for, than free to decide for themselves. Not the Sheriffs in this item, though.

  19. It occurs to me that state UBC-transfer laws could be hard to enforce. Bob Buyer buys a gun from Sally Seller. If Bob and Sally live in a state with 2A sanctuary counties they would be well advised to conduct their negotiations and settle the transfer in such a jurisdiction. Now, if the prosecutor(s) in their counties of residence try to bring charges they might claim that they are being tried in a jurisdiction where the crime did NOT occur.

    In turn, the constabulary and prosecute in the county where the crime DID occur are apt to lack enthusiasm to investigate, prosecute and take to trial such a case. Jurors might be reluctant to convict.

    This whole picture may make for few – if any – cases being pursued. Those that are pursued are apt to be incidental to other crimes that brought attention to the buyer or seller.

    • “It occurs to me that state UBC-transfer laws could be hard to enforce.”

      It’s not intended so much for the now as it is the ‘later’.

      It only gets ‘teeth’ with guns manufactured after the UBC law is enacted. Then a possessor has no fallback they can claim.

      It’s all a part of their long game to disarm America…

  20. One wonders if the anti’s just take it for granted that anyone employed by the government will just do whatever the government tells them to as if thoughtless automatons. If so they don’t think very highly of those employees.

    “Go catch bullets in the face and put your families at risk to terrorize your neighbors enforcing our arbitrary and totalitarian whim.” Who would oppose that?

  21. Sanctuary counties are the only way. WE WILL NOT COMPLY!
    (Where do I get that MD T-shirt?)

  22. And the war of leftard aggression begins…”I was only following orders mein herr!” Dart in Cook County is the groovy gestapo. I wonder how many county Mounties will risk their life violating the constitution?!?

  23. Good job Sheriffs,,, there are probably some State & local police that share the same sentiments as the sheriffs, the problem though is , local police & state police are under the thumbs of the Governors & Mayors… which in most cases Democrats (who SUCK)…!!!

  24. Those pesky local jurisdictions strike again.

    It’s almost as if different people, different places live differently. Its almost as if a more central govt does OK with stuff everybody wants, that works better to do together. A more central govt used so *we* can impose on *them* gets pushback. Imagine: people pursuing their own interests.

    In case it’s unclear, just listen to “All the best people voted for me for Emperor, Emperess.” – Clinton, “Every county voted against ny SAFE act, but screw-em…” Proconsul Cuomo: Emperor in waiting, or “Governing from my barstool.” – Who needs to be elected Emperess to be in charge – Cortez.

  25. A central govt that gives orders to chunks, vs taking them (“Now serving number 5.”) is just imperialism witb everybody in the same uniforms.

  26. ” Politically, ballot measures are useful, in that politicians can encourage the voters to create an unpopular law, insulating legislators from public wrath at the next election. ”

    And that’s kind of the lynch-pin behind ballot measures. The initiatives don’t spring from some noble desire to bring direct democracy to the people. They are all about providing cover for political cowardice. Their unconstitutionality aside, this is more than enough reason to put this sort of thing aside.

  27. Setting aside the moral rightness of refusing to enforce an unconstitutional law, there is another compelling reason why local law enforcement would not want to get into this.

    Confiscating guns is an extremely risky business under the best of circumstances. Sooner or later some deputy is going to get is ass shot off– and for what, the sake of a few politicians who put virtue signalling above public safety?

    This becomes especially problematical with “red flag laws”. Trying to collect guns from someone who is, supposedly, mentally unbalanced is nothing less than a suicide mission. Crashing in to some nut job’s house with a SWAT team on a surprise visit, knowing he’s got guns– what could possibly go wrong?

    If I was local law enforcement, I’d be saying never mind the constitution part of this picture, I’m not walking in to an extremely volatile and explosive situation so you can score a few political points. You want those guns, Mr. Legislator, you go get them.

    • Several people who testified at the hearings suggested this. They pointed out how it was easy to pass restrictive laws that they themselves do not have to enforce. What’s more, these types of laws only serve to make criminals out of people who have not caused harm to anyone — and they will do nothing to reduce the nation-leading crime that exists in Baltimorgue. Gun control doesn’t reduce crime, because the criminals don’t GAF about the law. God bless the Patriot Picket!

  28. What that AG ignores is that these sheriffs have prosecutorial discretion. They routinely don’t enforce every bit of law breaking that they encounter. For example, in a lot of jurisdictions, speeders aren’t usually prosecuted for traveling a set number of miles over the speed limit. And they don’t always enforce littering laws. They don’t prosecute everything because they don’t have the resources to do so, and then to keep the people in prison when convicted. So every sheriff, chief of police, etc, prioritizes what laws are enforced, and which really aren’t. That is part of their job. And, yes, that discretion is part of why voters vote for one candidate over another. Enforcing publicly unpopular laws is one of the fastest ways to get voted out of office.

  29. 1. There is. About 54,000 F.F.Ls is in the year of 04/01/2019 A.D. too In the U.S.A. Too. Regular GunDealers F.F.L.s PswnShops &Gun Dealers is (02) too. N.F.A. Too

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