At least four sheriffs have announced that they will not enforce federal regulation that President Barack Obama laid out in his package of gun control proposals last week Wednesday, while legislators in three states have vowed to introduce legislation that would make it illegal to enforce a federal gun ban in their states.
The most public rejection of Obama's gun-control initiatives was issued by two Oregon sheriffs, Linn County Sheriff Tim Mueller and Crook County Sheriff Jim Hensley, who sent a letter to Vice President Joe Biden this week saying they won't enforce any federal regulation "offending the constitutional rights of my citizens."
Both sheriffs said they will not permit federal officers to come to their counties to enforce any new federal gun laws that ban now-legal weapons.
Mueller posted the letter on his sheriff's department Facebook page and, as of Jan. 17, had garnered more than 60,000 likes and shares.
Pine County, Minnesota Sheriff Robin K. Cole also issued a statement in the wake of Obama's Wednesday announcement saying his department and deputies will not enforce "any mandate, regulation or administrative rule that violates the United States Constitution or its various amendments. I would view any such mandate, regulation or administrative rule illegal and refuse to carry it out."
Sheriff Denny Peyman of Jackson County, Ky., said that he, too, would disobey any directive from the Obama administration during a town hall meeting. On Wednesday, however, Peyman told CNN that he would enforce new gun control laws only if they are approved by Congress.
The National Sheriffs' Association has repudiated the sheriffs' actions, noting the courts, not law enforcement officials, are the only entity with the power to interpret law.
CNN Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin said on Wednesday that it is not up to local officials to interpret the Constitution and cherry-pick which laws they will enforce and which ones they won't
"A sheriff does not get to decide whether laws are constitutional," Toobin said. "Unless a court invalidates a law, he's obligated to enforce it."
Meanwhile, state lawmakers in Wyoming, Texas and Tennessee, as well as Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, have vowed to make it illegal to enforce any executive order by the president that they believe violates the Constitution.
Wyoming state Rep. Kendell Kroeker (R-Evansville) introduced legislation last week to make enforcement of any ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines a felony in the state. Kroeker's bill would imprison federal agents for up to five years in prison and fine them $50,000 for attempting to enforce such bans in Wyoming.
Texas state Rep. Steve Toth (R-The Woodlands) introduced legislation making it illegal for enforcement of a federal ban in Texas. "At some point there needs to be a showdown between the states and the federal government over the Supremacy Clause," he told WOAI 1200-AM on Wednesday. "It is our responsibility to push back when those laws are infringed by King Obama."
Tennessee state Rep. Joe Carr (R-Murfreesboro) announced Wednesday that he will introduce a bill making it a misdemeanor for federal law enforcement agencies to enforce any new federal gun bans in Tennessee. Carr said the proposed legislation will allow residents to "defend themselves from tyranny."
In Mississippi, Gov. Phil Bryant, urged the Legislature to make it illegal to enforce any executive order by the president that violates the Constitution.
"If someone kicks open my door and they're entering my home, I'd like as many bullets as I could to protect my children, and if I only have three, then the ability for me to protect my family is greatly diminished," Bryant said. "And what we're doing now is saying, 'We're standing against the federal government taking away our civil liberties.'"
Legal analysts agree that, for the most part, sheriffs and state lawmakers are merely blowing off some rhetorical, symbolic steam and have no real recourse in challenging Obama's initiatives and anticipated new gun control laws.
For more, go to:
-- Oregon sheriff: 'Unconstitutional' gun control laws won't be enforced
-- Gun law backlash begins: More local govt. officials refuse to enforce new laws
-- Oregon sheriffs balk at enforcing new gun laws
-- Joe Carr, Tennessee Legislator, Proposes Gun Control Law Ban
-- It's Time for Sheriffs to Enforce Gun Laws, Not Break Them
-- Wyoming Ban On Federal Gun Bans Proposed By State Lawmaker
-- Steve Toth Proposes Banning Federal Gun Bans In Texas
-- Federal laws are not optional
-- Sheriffs, State Lawmakers Push Back on Gun Control
-- Carr: Americans should be able to 'defend themselves'