As urban areas are pushing for more gun controls rural areas are mounting an equal amount of resistance, citizens even posting “we will not comply” signs. So far, the battle is largely confined to Western counties but spreading eastward as at least 179 counties now designate themselves as Second Amendment sanctuary counties. State sheriff associations are driving the issue for four primary reasons: it’s unconstitutional, violates due process, is unenforceable and does nothing to protect law-abiding citizens. Most probably see it also as a back door to eventual gun confiscation.
So, what does it matter what sheriffs think? Sheriffs are the only elected law enforcement agents in the United States and each must swear an oath of allegiance to the U.S. Constitution to hold that trusted office. They understand that Congress has sole authority to make law, that law must originate with and be approved by both the House and Senate (535 individuals), and that the only power belonging to the president is to execute that law, suggest, through his state of the union address, and/or sign or veto, which can be overridden.
These 535 make federal law, not just a single person, as was the case with kings and now with dictators. All executive orders that have the effect of law are unconstitutional. Presidents doing so undermine the relevancy of the Congress and is a form of tyranny. Moreover, it is well to remember that a law cannot undo an amendment to the Constitution — only another amendment and that requires the support of 3/4ths of the states, so Congress is restricted also.
Presently 29 out of 33 counties in New Mexico have opted for Second Amendment sanctuary status together with a majority in Colorado 38 of 64, Illinois 64 of 102 and Washington 24 of 39. States with fewer sanctuary counties include: Oregon with 13 of 36, Maryland 3 of 23, Nevada 5 of 16, North Carolina 1 of 100, Rhode Island 5 of 31, and Tennessee 2 of 95, thus totaling 179. In New York an additional 52 of 62 counties officially oppose the state’s SAFE Act (Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013) but they have not yet sought Second Amendment sanctuary status.
And there exists three Second Amendment sanctuary states: Alaska, Idaho and Kansas so a proper tally would include all counties in these states. Moreover, Missouri is poised to become the fourth.
These came into existence from the Sheriff’s Rebellion of 2013 when President Barack Obama, failing to get Congress to initiate his anti-Second Amendment agenda, signed 23 executive orders on Jan. 16, bypassing Congress. By Feb. 14, 2013, nine state sheriff associations, and 336 elected county sheriffs had signed pledges to defend their citizens from either Obama’s unconstitutional executive orders or any gun legislation coming out of Congress that, in effect, damaged this constitutional amendment. The states refusing to comply were, as they came on board: Utah, Florida, Georgia, Colorado, New Mexico, Nebraska, Wyoming, Indiana, and Illinois.
Even the California State Sheriffs Association’s letter to Vice President Joe Biden was stronger than expected, putting him, and the federal government, on notice.
“It is the position of CSSA, in accordance with the Constitution of the United States and the statutes of the State of California, that law-abiding persons who meet the established requirements have the right to acquire, own, possess, use, keep and bear firearms. This right shall not be infringed.”
The Utah Sheriff’s letter, aimed directly at President Obama, was the most blunt.
“We respect the Office of the President of the United States of America. But, make no mistake, as the duly-elected sheriffs of our respective counties, we will enforce the rights guaranteed to our citizens by the Constitution. No federal official will be permitted to descend upon our constituents and take from them what the Bill of Rights — in particular Amendment II — has given them. We, like you, swore a solemn oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and we are prepared to trade our lives for the preservation of its traditional interpretation.”
Wyoming made it clear what would happen to federal agents attempting to enforce their alterations of the amendment. It passed the “Firearm Protection Act,” which threatened federal officials with up to five years in prison and $5,000 in fines if convicted of attempting to enforce unconstitutional statutes or decrees infringing on the gun rights of Wyoming citizens. Reportedly, Missouri and Texas had similar legislation pending.
The Obama Administration backed down.
As mentioned, in 2013 the states of Kansas, Alaska and Idaho declared themselves Second Amendment sanctuary states. These are some of the words Kansas passed into law: “Any act, law, treaty, order, rule or regulation of the government of the United States which violates the second amendment to the Constitution of the United States is null, void and unenforceable in the state of Kansas.”
Today’s threat to the Second Amendment is not presently coming from the federal government but from state governments and politicians largely from urban areas. The Sheriff Rebellion of 2019 is county against state. Sheriffs are once again placed in the position, “Will I obey the law when such violates the Constitution which I swore, by oath, to defend.” “NO!!!” Thank God they see, and understand, their duty.
Dr. Harold Pease is a syndicated columnist. He taught history and political science for more than 30 years at Taft College.