NYT notices hot new trend among sheriffs: ignore gun-control laws

posted at 9:41 am on December 16, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

What happens when legislatures pass unworkable or just plain stupid laws? Thanks to the innovators at the White House, who love to ignore laws in their own signature legislation when they become inconvenient (like employer mandates in ObamaCare), other executive-branch enforcement agencies have begun to follow suit.  The New York Times reports that law-enforcement agencies are taking the Obama administration lead on ignoring laws about which the White House probably cares a lot more:

When Sheriff John Cooke of Weld County explains in speeches why he is not enforcing the state’s new gun laws, he holds up two 30-round magazines. One, he says, he had before July 1, when the law banning the possession, sale or transfer of the large-capacity magazines went into effect. The other, he “maybe” obtained afterward.

He shuffles the magazines, which look identical, and then challenges the audience to tell the difference.

“How is a deputy or an officer supposed to know which is which?” he asks.

It’s not just Colorado where law enforcement is refusing to enforce the unenforceable, either.  Governor Andrew Cuomo had to correct a badly-written and hastily-passed gun-control law, but police in New York aren’t any more interested in enforcing it than their brethren in Colorado:

In New York State, where Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed one of the toughest gun law packages in the nation last January, two sheriffs have said publicly they would not enforce the laws — inaction that Mr. Cuomo said would set “a dangerous and frightening precedent.” The sheriffs’ refusal is unlikely to have much effect in the state: According to the state’s Division of Criminal Justice Services, since 2010 sheriffs have filed less than 2 percent of the two most common felony gun charges. The vast majority of charges are filed by the state or local police.

Add California to the list, too:

And in California, a delegation of sheriffs met with Gov. Jerry Brown this fall to try to persuade him to veto gun bills passed by the Legislature, including measures banning semiautomatic rifles with detachable magazines and lead ammunition for hunting (Mr. Brown signed the ammunition bill but vetoed the bill outlawing the rifles).

“Our way of life means nothing to these politicians, and our interests are not being promoted in the legislative halls of Sacramento or Washington, D.C.,” said Jon E. Lopey, the sheriff of Siskiyou County, Calif., one of those who met with Governor Brown. He said enforcing gun laws was not a priority for him, and he added that residents of his rural region near the Oregon border are equally frustrated by regulations imposed by the federal Forest Service and the Environmental Protection Agency.

I expect the Obama administration and the Department of Justice to express their shock, shock at the defiance of the separation of powers inherent in these actions.  And I’m sure they’d get right on them, except that the White House and the DoJ have their hands full trying to address a couple of other issues:

  • The unilateral decision not to enforce several of the statutory deadlines in ObamaCare that Congress passed under the direction of the Obama administration
  • Eric Holder’s refusal to comply with Congressional subpoenas through the specious use of executive privilege
  • The harassing of conservative groups by the IRS, which has produced no action from the DoJ despite a multitude of evidence produced by Congress
  • The attempt by HHS to limit the freedom of religious expression to “worship” spaces only without Congressional involvement
  • The investigation of the NSA’s domestic surveillance by James Clapper, who lied to Congress about the extent of that domestic surveillance in the first place

And so on. If this imperial-executive model is good enough for the federal government, don’t expect the states to eschew it for very long for their own priorities.


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That constitution is such an unimportant and dated peice of paper.

I have a co-worker that says that Sherrifs are the last line of defense on the constitution. Not sure how that is but he swears they have the ability to protect the constitution at all costs.

acyl72 on December 16, 2013 at 9:45 AM

Zing!

Nice Ed

cmsinaz on December 16, 2013 at 9:47 AM

Ignore laws for me but not for thee

cmsinaz on December 16, 2013 at 9:48 AM

Harvard Law Review

Flange on December 16, 2013 at 9:49 AM

Haven’t they been pretty much ignoring the gun laws that have existed forever? Do we have a high prosecution rate of arrests and convictions of people who cannot legally own a gun?

Cindy Munford on December 16, 2013 at 9:50 AM

My sheriff rocks, he told a citizen gathering that approving CC permits would never be held up over politics. My renewal got signed the day I did the paperwork, it damn near reached the mailbox before I got home.

Bishop on December 16, 2013 at 9:51 AM

And so on. If this imperial-executive model is good enough for the federal government, don’t expect the states to eschew it for very long for their own priorities.

Wish that were the case in MD.

Or as I call it, DC’s armpit.

Gatsu on December 16, 2013 at 9:52 AM

The foundation of our country, the rule of law is failing. Is anarchy just around the corner? Just by coincidence heading to the gun store today to buy more ammo. Better to be prepared.

amr on December 16, 2013 at 9:53 AM

I have a co-worker that says that Sherrifs are the last line of defense on the constitution. Not sure how that is but he swears they have the ability to protect the constitution at all costs.

acyl72 on December 16, 2013 at 9:45 AM

The answer’s simple. In most, if not all, states the sheriffs are elected by the people in counties/parishes they serve. And, the ones I know don’t as a rule care one whit about enforcing ridiculous laws that have no relationship to reality when they’ve got true criminals out there to chase.

TXUS on December 16, 2013 at 9:53 AM

The comments on nyt are highlarious

How dare the sherrifs not follow the laws

Funny they have no problem with Obama not following the laws because of those obstructionist GOP

Hypocrites

cmsinaz on December 16, 2013 at 9:54 AM

I love that picture of the rat-eared wonder showing off his shooting skills.

But seriously, why should the Executive Branch be the only lawless governmental entity?

Happy Nomad on December 16, 2013 at 9:54 AM

Too bad it’s the sheriff’s and not the local PD’s. Gotta love the Sheriff’s department, but it’s the locals that will make the difference one way or the other.

Free Indeed on December 16, 2013 at 9:59 AM

OT- Harvard evacuates four buildings under suspicion of bomb scare. Wonder if the Cambridge police are acting stupidly. My guess is that somebody just didn’t want to take finals today.

Happy Nomad on December 16, 2013 at 10:02 AM

Harvard Law Review

Flange on December 16, 2013 at 9:49 AM

I’ll see your Harvard Law Review and raise you a Constitutional Scallop Scholar.

Mimzey on December 16, 2013 at 10:04 AM

Happy Nomad on December 16, 2013 at 9:54 AM

Are you kidding? The charlatan wouldn’t have known which end of the rifle to point at the target if his handlers hadn’t shown him.

TXUS on December 16, 2013 at 10:05 AM

It’s good to have you back posting on a regular basis Ed.

celtic warrior on December 16, 2013 at 10:06 AM

Exactly. So long as we can get away with it, why do we local yokels have to obey the law if the nation’s top law enforcers don’t have to? Why shouldn’t WE start thinking and acting like mercenaries if that’s how our would-be overlords operate?

Aitch748 on December 16, 2013 at 10:07 AM

ANTI Gun Laws are passed by LIBERALS…

…and as everyone knows, liberals think that the TOP LAW of the Land, The Constitution, is a “living and breathing document” that can be molded, ignored and/or mutilated anyway you want in order to achieve your desired outcome…

The same goes for any unconstitutional gun laws that definitely “infringe” upon you constitutional 2nd amendment rights!….IGNORE THEM !!

BigSven on December 16, 2013 at 10:09 AM

The problem is that the law is there for use when the person violating it is one who the Sheriff dislikes for some reason. When everything is illegal, you better be friends with the law enforcers.

DaNang67 on December 16, 2013 at 10:10 AM

Shire Reeve (sheriff) the highest execcutive officer of a county. The job is to enforce the law. This person is put in office by the inhabitants of the county to enforce the county and other laws. These people will generally support law enforcement of laws with which they have input and/or agree. When bad laws are imposed by outsiders, with which the county does not agree, then that enforcement takes last priority.

Why do you think the feds are beefing up all their pistol packin’ mamas? Because under posse comitatus, the only enforcement action the feds have is the FBI and Marshal Service, and the alphabet federal agencies. They can’t use the military. They can’t reasonably use the National Guard unless the people and the Governor agree (Do you really think you gould get a Guardsman to shoot mama?). So what do you think would happen if a thousand federal officers would descend on a county with 100,000 people? If the people did not agree with the reason for the federal enforcement, the Sheriff has the power to deputize, say 100,000, armed citizens to remove the federal officials. Under the posse comitatus, the Sheriff has the right and obligation to summon the ENTIRE population of inhabitants to enforce the law. I think that makes the locally elected Sheriff a purty durn powerful office.

Old Country Boy on December 16, 2013 at 10:13 AM

I’m starting to carry concealed when I have to visit relatives in the northeast. I really don’t give a crap that my CCW is out of my jurisdiction – I’ve had it with unconstitutional gun laws. If I’m ever in a situation where I have to draw my gun, dealing with the law will be the least of my worries.

crrr6 on December 16, 2013 at 10:14 AM

Unlike Governors, Senators and Congresspersons, Sheriffs are required to do their jobs by interacting with, working among, the voters.

It’s one thing to muse over concepts from a tidy clean room, it’s another thing to contend with applications in the muddy, dirty world.

Lourdes on December 16, 2013 at 10:17 AM

CT is still trying to figure out how to make their stupid new gun law work and it’s been in effect for almost a year now. They have the same problem. How do you identify a banned magazine from one that was owned before the law passed. The simple answer is you can’t. The complicated answer is they want to assign serial numbers to the legally owned magazines and register each one with the owner on a card. Of course there is a $35 dollar registration fee for each magazine. I am pretty sure they don’t realize exactly how many of those there are in the state. And more are coming in daily until they figure out what to do.

Glad I moved away from there.

Johnnyreb on December 16, 2013 at 10:19 AM

Too bad it’s the sheriff’s and not the local PD’s. Gotta love the Sheriff’s department, but it’s the locals that will make the difference one way or the other.

Free Indeed on December 16, 2013 at 9:59 AM

Not true. The municipal police are employees of their respective city councils. Sheriffs hold elected non-political positions. They are accountable to the people of their respective counties, and they have jurisdiction in the cities within their counties as well.

gryphon202 on December 16, 2013 at 10:21 AM

Only Obama could make shooting a $1500 shotgun look gay.

Murphy9 on December 16, 2013 at 10:31 AM

Are you kidding? The charlatan wouldn’t have known which end of the rifle to point at the target if his handlers hadn’t shown him.

TXUS on December 16, 2013 at 10:05 AM

No seriously, I want to see Obama fire that rifle exactly as he’s holding it in that picture!

Happy Nomad on December 16, 2013 at 10:34 AM

Old Country Boy on December 16, 2013 at 10:13 AM

The sheriff of the county where most of my ranch sits likes to deputize some of the long-time ranch owners when he needs some extra help. I regularly refuse this volunteer post since I don’t want to be in a position to have to read any criminal their rights. And, if they are illegals trespassing on my property and they’re armed, the last place they’re going to end up is in the comfort of a jail.

TXUS on December 16, 2013 at 10:38 AM

No seriously, I want to see Obama fire that rifle exactly as he’s holding it in that picture!

Happy Nomad on December 16, 2013 at 10:34 AM

Yep, that would be fun, especially as high up as the butt is on his shoulder and pressed so hard to his cheek. He’d be lucky to hit the target if it was just 10 ft away, and if it was anything bigger than a .22, it would be laugh-out-loud funny to watch him react. Whoever was handling him for the photo op didn’t themselves know how to hold/target a rifle.

TXUS on December 16, 2013 at 10:44 AM

Next step:

Nationalize all the police forces. Do for Law enforcement what was done for education. Don’t stop yet libs, we still have 2 ply lying around!

WryTrvllr on December 16, 2013 at 10:45 AM

CT is still trying to figure out how to make their stupid new gun law work and it’s been in effect for almost a year now. They have the same problem. How do you identify a banned magazine from one that was owned before the law passed. The simple answer is you can’t. The complicated answer is they want to assign serial numbers to the legally owned magazines and register each one with the owner on a card. Of course there is a $35 dollar registration fee for each magazine. I am pretty sure they don’t realize exactly how many of those there are in the state. And more are coming in daily until they figure out what to do.

Glad I moved away from there.

Johnnyreb on December 16, 2013 at 10:19 AM

I’m glad you did, too. Just as I’m sure the “authorities” there are salivating at the expected revenue from that $35/magazine registration fee.

I’ve yet to see any “gun law” that wasn’t as much about revenue enhancement as it was about disarming the citizenry. The “best and brightest” want your guns and your money in their control.

What do they trust you with?

They’re still trying to figure that one out. Except for the foaming-at-the-mouth ones who just want to exterminate everybody else, that is.

They define you breathing as a threat to Holy Mother Gaia.

(CO2, you know.)

clear ether

eon

eon on December 16, 2013 at 10:48 AM

I have a co-worker that says that Sherrifs are the last line of defense on the constitution. Not sure how that is but he swears they have the ability to protect the constitution at all costs.

acyl72 on December 16, 2013 at 9:45 AM

He is correct, because they are the only law enforcers elected by the people and not a government entity. Police officers are hired by a city and are beholden to it. Usually their actions coincide with the desires of residents, but not always. Remember, they are beholden to the city, and not the people. I’ll say it again because its important… sheriffs are the only law enforcement beholden to the people and not a government entity.

If you have a chance to meet Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America, ask him to tell you about sheriffs and the role they play… and the many occasions where they’ve threatened to lock up federal agents who were overstepping the 2nd Amendment rights of citizens. He told me a half dozen in a half-hour car ride.

(I got a chance to meet him when a very conservative friend of mine was giving him a ride from the airport to a machine gun shoot being held at a rural shooting range. Great guy!)

dominigan on December 16, 2013 at 10:49 AM

–snip– The complicated answer is they want to assign serial numbers to the legally owned magazines and register each one with the owner on a card. Of course there is a $35 dollar registration fee for each magazine. I am pretty sure they don’t realize exactly how many of those there are in the state.

–snip–.

Johnnyreb on December 16, 2013 at 10:19 AM

I think they had a fair idea of how many magazines there are. One the one hand, they harass law-abiding gun owners with ridiculous fees and reduce the demand for more magazines. And, as a bonus, the state treasury gets a lot of money if the magazines are indeed registered.

Kevin K. on December 16, 2013 at 10:50 AM

People should start ignoring the law too.

lea on December 16, 2013 at 10:50 AM

I’m starting to carry concealed when I have to visit relatives in the northeast. I really don’t give a crap that my CCW is out of my jurisdiction – I’ve had it with unconstitutional gun laws. If I’m ever in a situation where I have to draw my gun, dealing with the law will be the least of my worries.

crrr6 on December 16, 2013 at 10:14 AM

Absolutely not worth it. You’re one car accident away from a felony (the EMTs find it). You’re one piddly traffic stop away from a felony (Deputy Dumas who g0t dumped by his girl last night decides to search). You’re one resentful Liberal relative away from having a “dime dropped on you” for a felony. You’re one good detective away from a felony when he picks up the outline of your weapon when you reach into the cooler at the Quickie Mart.

Do your homework: avoid the bad neighborhoods; have your vehicle in top condition; travel at the best times; maintain situational awareness.

Do not: forfeit your right it gun ownership due to error; do not forfeit your right to vote; do not lose tens of thousands of dollars to the courts and lost income and higher insurance costs.

M240H on December 16, 2013 at 10:51 AM

Well the ONLY way anyone could ever possibly see TOTUS firing a rifle would first require that he’s pictured actually holding one (since the photo being discussed is TOTUS holding a shotgun)…….the bruise or black eye or fallin on his butt would be equally humorous!

Katfish on December 16, 2013 at 11:01 AM

This is a terrible trend, and for one reason only: if law enforcement can pick and choose which laws to enforce, then very quickly laws are only enforced against those persons who are on the local “enemies list”.

And you no longer have any rule of law at all, but instead the rule of whim and patronage, with laws existing only for show.

If everyone is outside the law in some way or another, then how can an “outlaw” be considered to be any less respectable than anyone else? And why not then rely on your own private organization for security, who you can trust because of family ties,rather than on the public authorities, who you know are corrupt?

This is how La Cosa Nostra rose to power in Italy, and later NYC. These are the conditions which lead there.

Tom Servo on December 16, 2013 at 11:02 AM

Love that photo Ed!

Keep that cheekbone clamped to the gunstock when you pull the trigger, Barry.

That’s how it’s done, right?

MarkT on December 16, 2013 at 11:05 AM

M240H on December 16, 2013 at 10:51 AM

Excellent advice, you saved me from telling crrr6 (and anyone else who was thinking about carrying in a non-CHL state) the same thing.

TXUS on December 16, 2013 at 11:07 AM

… deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed …

Lost in Jersey on December 16, 2013 at 11:13 AM

If this imperial-executive model is good enough for the federal government, don’t expect the states to eschew it for very long for their own priorities.

Nor should we expect that the citizenry themselves will eschew it for their own priorities, as well.

Midas on December 16, 2013 at 11:24 AM

This is a terrible trend, and for one reason only: if law enforcement can pick and choose which laws to enforce, then very quickly laws are only enforced against those persons who are on the local “enemies list”.

So you are for the enforcing of unconstitutional federal law? If you are, just come out and say it.

And you no longer have any rule of law at all, but instead the rule of whim and patronage, with laws existing only for show.

This is what we’re living NOW at the federal level. If you fear this scenario so much, what are you going to do about it now that it’s come to pass?

If everyone is outside the law in some way or another, then how can an “outlaw” be considered to be any less respectable than anyone else? And why not then rely on your own private organization for security, who you can trust because of family ties,rather than on the public authorities, who you know are corrupt?

You have “not enforcing the law” confused with “enforcing the constitution.” Try again.

This is how La Cosa Nostra rose to power in Italy, and later NYC. These are the conditions which lead there.

Tom Servo on December 16, 2013 at 11:02 AM

La Cosa Nostra IS our federal government. Set up a bunch of rules and break them. You got any better ideas, feel free. But if elected county sheriffs doing this bothers you, I bet you are really really pissed off at los federales, right? Right?!

gryphon202 on December 16, 2013 at 11:29 AM

I’m starting to carry concealed when I have to visit relatives in the northeast. I really don’t give a crap that my CCW is out of my jurisdiction – I’ve had it with unconstitutional gun laws. If I’m ever in a situation where I have to draw my gun, dealing with the law will be the least of my worries.

crrr6 on December 16, 2013 at 10:14 AM

If you haven’t already, check the CCW reciprocity list for your state. Your CCW may be perfectly legal some of the states you visit – but probably not all, especially if NY or NJ are on your list.
Colorado has CCW reciprocity agreements with 30 states – including New Hampshire and Pennsylvania (WRT northeast states).

dentarthurdent on December 16, 2013 at 11:32 AM

Too bad it’s the sheriff’s and not the local PD’s. Gotta love the Sheriff’s department, but it’s the locals that will make the difference one way or the other.

Free Indeed on December 16, 2013 at 9:59 AM

The answer’s simple. In most, if not all, states the sheriffs are elected by the people in counties/parishes they serve. And, the ones I know don’t as a rule care one whit about enforcing ridiculous laws that have no relationship to reality when they’ve got true criminals out there to chase.

TXUS on December 16, 2013 at 9:53 AM

Bingo Tex. Local law enforcement typically serves at the whim of some city or county official, not directly to the people. Which is exactly why it is very important to vet your candidates for sheriff.

JusDreamin on December 16, 2013 at 12:05 PM

God Bless the sheriffs. But note that it is the local PDs that are getting all the military equipment to “suppress insurrection”. Remember The O’s “civilian army, as large, well-funded, and equipped as the military”? Add up all the militarized local PDs, the “security” branches of the Post office, Social Security Admin, IRS, etc., etc., etc., and I suspect he’s already there. When you have to rely on your last line of defense as your first line, you’re in trouble.

Skptk on December 16, 2013 at 12:27 PM

Absolutely not worth it. You’re one car accident away from a felony (the EMTs find it). You’re one piddly traffic stop away from a felony (Deputy Dumas who g0t dumped by his girl last night decides to search). You’re one resentful Liberal relative away from having a “dime dropped on you” for a felony. You’re one good detective away from a felony when he picks up the outline of your weapon when you reach into the cooler at the Quickie Mart.

M240H on December 16, 2013 at 10:51 AM

I’ve never carried on my person when driving for those very reasons (lock box, separated ammo, all of that) and always used deep concealed for other times. My holster does not print whatsoever and figured that the likelihood of a cop pointing to my genitals as probable cause is lower than the chances that I’d have to use my weapon to save my life.

But, you’re probably right. I haven’t always carried in hostile territory, but I guess I’ll stop.

crrr6 on December 16, 2013 at 12:28 PM

Colorado has CCW reciprocity agreements with 30 states – including New Hampshire and Pennsylvania (WRT northeast states).

dentarthurdent on December 16, 2013 at 11:32 AM

Colorado has CCW reciprocity with NH for NH resident permit holders only. I only know because I looked at picking up NH in case I ever have to travel through GA, which does not honor my VA permit but decided that it wasn’t worth the expense right now.

http://www.usacarry.com/concealed_carry_permit_reciprocity_maps.html

We really need national reciprocity to get rid of all this craziness.

crrr6 on December 16, 2013 at 12:40 PM

crrr6 on December 16, 2013 at 12:40 PM

I was thinking that too, as I read this thread.

dogsoldier on December 16, 2013 at 12:52 PM

We really need national reciprocity to get rid of all this craziness.

crrr6 on December 16, 2013 at 12:40 PM

Yes we do.
I’ve always been concerned about traveling cross country to my family in Maine, and what I would need to do to have my CCW with me, and not be concerned about which states I drive through.

dentarthurdent on December 16, 2013 at 1:08 PM

AS I have argued before – the states should just start wiping out parts of the federal register by not enforcing them.

Zomcon JEM on December 16, 2013 at 5:03 PM

God Bless the sheriffs. But note that it is the local PDs that are getting all the military equipment to “suppress insurrection”. Remember The O’s “civilian army, as large, well-funded, and equipped as the military”? Add up all the militarized local PDs, the “security” branches of the Post office, Social Security Admin, IRS, etc., etc., etc., and I suspect he’s already there. When you have to rely on your last line of defense as your first line, you’re in trouble.

Skptk on December 16, 2013 at 12:27 PM

As I said upthread, municipal police are employed by their respective city councils. This is not surprising, disconcerting though it is. While I believe with my entire heart and soul that being armed is incumbent upon a free people for their own self-defense, I also think it is right and proper to look to county sheriffs for aid as professional law enforcers. cf. subsidiarity

gryphon202 on December 16, 2013 at 5:31 PM

If I’m ever in a situation where I have to draw my gun, dealing with the law will be the least of my worries.

crrr6 on December 16, 2013 at 10:14 AM

Just tell the cops that when the thug attacked you with the gun you peed on him and he was so upset that he committed suicide. Shot himself twice in the chest and once in the head.

Oldnuke on December 16, 2013 at 6:24 PM

Old Country Boy on December 16, 2013 at 10:13 AM

I’m very late to this thread, but very well said, Sir.

PointnClick on December 17, 2013 at 1:45 AM

They can’t use the military. They can’t reasonably use the National Guard unless the people and the Governor agree (Do you really think you could get a Guardsman to shoot mama?).

How quickly they forget…
Look at the forlorn kid from OK as he says “I hope I don’t have to shoot someone” (for ignoring an illegal order of martial law). The only person we see violence being visited upon is (wait for it)… GRANNY!

rhodeymark on December 17, 2013 at 7:20 AM