Some Sheriffs across U.S. Refuse to Enforce Gun Control Laws

Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Anti-gun law Sheriff John Cooke of Weld County Colorado (photo: Michael Ciaglo, Colorado Springs Gazette, AP)

Sheriffs from one end of the United States to another are rejecting new gun control laws, either refusing to enforce them or challenging their passage in state capitols.


In Colorado, where lawmakers adopted several new gun bills in the wake of mass shootings in Aurora and in Newtown, Connecticut, many county sheriffs say they will not enforce them.


In fact, all but seven of the 62 elected sheriffs in Colorado support a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the statutes.


The new laws require background checks for private gun transfers and ban magazines of more than 15 rounds.


A similar development has occurred in New York State, which also adopted new gun control measures. There, two sheriffs said publicly they won’t enforce the laws.


Governor Andrew Cuomo called the inaction “a dangerous and frightening precedent.”


In California, a group of sheriffs lobbied Governor Jerry Brown to veto gun bills passed by the legislature, including legislation banning semiautomatic rifles with detachable magazines and lead ammunition for hunting. Brown vetoed the plan outlawing the rifles, but signed the ammunition bill.


Jon E. Lopey, the sheriff of Siskiyou County, California, one of those who met with Brown, told The New York Times: “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.”


Some of these sheriffs support the view that “county sheriffs are the ultimate arbiters of what is constitutional and what is not,” according to the Times’ Erica Goode.


Boulder County’s Joe Pelle, a sheriff who is on the other side of the fence, disagrees. “A lot of sheriffs are claiming the Constitution, saying that they’re not going to enforce this because they personally believe it violates the Second Amendment,” he told the Times. “But that stance in and of itself violates the Constitution.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Sheriffs Refuse to Enforce Laws on Gun Control (by Erica Goode, New York Times)

Americans’ Desire for Tougher Gun Laws Up 13% from a Year Ago (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)      


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