“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution protects an individual’s right to keep and bear arms, yet many sheriffs across the country feel that laws within their states are violating that amendment.
Across the country, states are passing laws that restrict the use and possession of guns. Some laws are raising the minimum age to buy guns while others are requiring that guns be taken away from individuals who are putting others or themselves at risk.
With that being said, sheriffs across the country are putting their foot down and stating publicly that they simply won’t enforce these state laws that limit or violate their constituents’ constitutional rights. These new laws are raising concerns about the rights of the American people as well as the problem that sheriffs are facing on the job.
How it Started
As a response to public outcry against recent mass shootings, states such as Washington and Colorado have implemented laws to increase regulations on the gun buying and owning process. While some see this as a step in the right direction and will reduce public shootings, others are viewing this as an overreach of state powers.
Sheriffs in Washington are refusing to enforce the recent I-1639 state law that raises the buying age of guns, requires a tighter background check and considers it to be a crime if guns are stored unsafely. Regardless of the state’s intentions with the new laws, some rural area sheriffs have strong beliefs that the I-1639 law violates the Second Amendment.
In Colorado, the red flag bill is getting extreme backlash from rural area sheriffs (and others) for the same reason. The red flag bill was proposed as a way to try and control people’s actions in regards to gun usage. Anyone can petition the court for a temporary extreme risk protection order which essentially requires a person to hand over their firearms if there is enough evidence that proves a risk of safety to others or themselves. Sheriffs that opposed the bill stated that mental health should be more of the focus instead of restricting someone’s constitutional rights.
What Sheriffs are Doing
As an elected official, sheriffs are being put in an uncomfortable position when enforcing these laws. While they are elected to protect their communities (just like any other law enforcement officer), they are autonomous and have the discretion to choose which laws they will enforce.
Many citizens are asking, “Do sheriffs really have the right to do this?” and the answer they receive is another question, “Do states really have the right to infringe upon constitutional rights?”. Again, the answer is anything but simple.
The Bigger Picture
More people are speaking out and saying that the refusal to enforce gun control laws is politically motivated, however, sheriffs insist that their job is to protect the rights of the people they serve. Regardless of who is politically correct, the bigger issue is that more sheriffs are having to face this problem on the job, taking time and focus away from other issues.
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