Some rural sheriffs in the U.S. are refusing to enforce gun laws, and even disregarding judges and elected leaders.
“State police and highway patrol get their orders from the governor,” Sheriff Mike Lewis of Wicomico County, Md., recently told NBC News. “I get my orders from the citizens in this county.”
“I made a vow and a commitment that as long as I’m the sheriff of this county I will not allow the federal government to come in here and strip my law-abiding citizens of the right to bear arms,” added Sheriff Lewis. “If they attempt to do that it will be an all-out civil war. Because I will stand toe-to-toe with my people.”
Sheriff Lewis didn't mention that the Civil War had already been fought (and lost) more than a century ago, making federal laws the law of the land.
“If you are a sheriff in Maryland you must take an oath to uphold the law and the Constitution,” countered Maryland State Sen. Brian Frosh (D). "It’s not up to a sheriff to decide what’s constitutional and what isn’t. That’s what our courts are for.”
Unofficial law enforcement groups such as the Oath Keepers, Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association have been encouraging law enforcement agencies to ignore gun control laws, and follow the laws that they like.
The Southern Poverty Law Center noted in 2010 that Matthew Fairfield, of the Oath Keepers, was accused of storing a live napalm bomb in his Cleveland home.
Georgia Oath Keeper Darren Huff was arrested for allegedly planning to violently take control of a Madisonville, Tenn., courthouse in 2010 to prevent Walter Francis Fitzpatrick from going on trial, noted the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Fitzpatrick, a member of a "Patriot" group, tried to place an entire grand jury under arrest, reported Talking Points Memo.
Maryland Delegate Don Dwyer, a Republican, made the startling claim that sheriffs should act like judges.
“The role of a sheriff is to be the interposer between the law and the citizen,” Dwyer told NBC News. “He should stand between the government and citizen in every issue pertaining to the law.”
Dwyer claims that sheriffs can nullify, or ignore, any law that they personally believe is unconstitutional based upon "nullification" writings, not actual law, of James Madison in the Virginia Resolution of 1798, which was written in secret.
Schoharie County Sheriff Tony Desmond opposes New York's SAFE Act so much he's decided not to enforce it. He dismissed democratically-elected officials who voted for the SAFE act as "someone."
“If you have an [assault] weapon, which under the SAFE Act is considered illegal, I don’t look at it as being illegal just because someone said it was,” stated Sheriff Desmond.
Weld County Sheriff John Cooke in Colorado claimed he had authority that exceeded a federal judge.
“It’s not [the judge’s] job to tell me what I can and can’t enforce,” Sheriff Cooke told NBC News. “I’m still the one that has to say where do I put my priorities and resources? And it’s not going to be there.”