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Editorial: Sheriffs challenge Brady Law
By Larry Pratt
Richard Mack is well-known as the first of eventually six sheriffs to take on the Brady Law. And, much to the delight of pro-gunners around the country, the Supreme Court agreed with Mack in 1995 that the federal government did not have constitutional authority to force state officials to conduct background checks.
Mack is no longer in office, but that has not stopped him from promoting constitutional issues. He is taking the lead in informing sheriffs of the authority they have as the chief law-enforcement officer in their counties.
The Constitution is quite specific in terms of what they are allowed to do. Almost all the powers which “We the People” have delegated to the federal government are listed in the 18 clauses found in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution.
Sheriffs find that when they warn the feds not to conduct an unconstitutional police action against one of their citizens, the feds back down. Sometimes the feds threaten to arrest them, but when the sheriff’s response is “game on,” the stalemate ends; the feds back down.
Earlier this year, nearly 100 sheriffs, along with many policemen and other county officials, attended the first conference of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association.
One of the encouraging things about the conference was that, while many of the sheriffs were initially unwilling to risk a confrontation with the feds, after hearing the testimonies from many of their fellow constables, they are ready.
For example, Tony DeMeo, former Jersey City cop, was elected sheriff in Nye County, Nev. He became a pivotal player in his county by protecting citizens from an abuse of power perpetrated by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
Pro-gun activists will remember the stalwart Rep. Helen Chenoweth of Idaho who served in the 1990s. Her husband, Wayne Hage, leased acreage for his ranch from the BLM. Hage had ownership of the water rights, as long as he used the water at least once a year.
Later, the BLM decided that Hage did not belong on the land, and they began to confiscate his cattle. After the second theft, Hage enlisted DeMeo’s assistance, which helped him deal with the BLM when they arrived a third time to confiscate even more cattle.
DeMeo confronted the BLM agents and backed them down to the point where Hage no longer had to worry about the BLM’s larceny. After Hage’s death, his son won a lawsuit begun by his dad against the
federales, and now a court ruling has established that the Hage family can live without fear of their government stealing their property.
There are many sheriffs willing to protect their counties if they knew what they could -- and should -- do. The Gun Owners online ( http://bit.ly/wilsonsheriffs) bookstore carries Richard Mack’s little book The County Sheriff, America’s Last Hope. If your sheriff is not aware of his powers -- and his responsibility -- please give him a copy of this book.
We can put the federal genie back in the bottle, one sheriff at a time.
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