Security

Breaking News! Sheriff Plans on Upholding Constitution

It speaks volumes about the current gun control hysteria when a county sheriff states that he plans on upholding the Constitution and his statement is considered news. Ada County sheriff, Gary Raney, did exactly that in a “Reader’s View” editorial in the Idaho Statesman.

As an elected official and a sheriff, I have the great honor to take an oath of office. Very few occupations include the special pride that comes with the trust inherent in an oath of office, but mine does.

In that oath, I swore to uphold the Constitution and laws that we live under in this great nation. Those words were my promise that I would not use my own personal interests to decide what is right and wrong. I swore to work within our system of law and justice to fairly enforce what you, through your elected representatives in the Legislature and Congress, have decided should be the law of our land. Those laws are set upon a foundation of checks and balances, embodied in the separation of powers between the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government.

When we forsake the law or disregard those checks and balances, we take the first step down the path towards anarchy.

I have been asked many times in the past couple of weeks whether I will uphold my oath to defend the Constitution and proclaim an intolerance of federal action against the Second Amendment.

Many others have indulged that pressure and now we see Oregon sheriffs, Wyoming legislators and others making hollow promises to protect you from the intrusions of the federal government. Let me respectfully remind you that we are the federal government, the state government and the local government.

I did not swear to uphold just part of the Constitution. Our Constitution includes the right to keep and bear arms, but it also includes the “supremacy clause” that says that every state shall abide by the laws passed by our Congress.

So, despite the fact that I personally oppose some of the gun control measures currently under consideration, my oath requires me to uphold the laws that are passed by our federal and state representatives.

When we disagree with those laws, the checks and balances built into our government point us toward the proper remedy: changing the laws or challenging them in the judicial branch. As to whether or not the president has the power to issue executive orders limiting our Constitutional rights, that is another matter to be decided by the Supreme Court, not by 44 different sheriffs in Idaho.

We live in the greatest society the world has ever seen and we enjoy that because of the founding principles our forefathers established in our Constitution. It would be hypocritical and irresponsible of me to forsake that Constitution and the wisdom of generations that have followed it.

I fear that passions have led people into a rally of mistruth. It is time we truly respect the Constitution and our system of justice. Regardless of your personal opinion on the Second Amendment, embrace everyone’s liberty and use our well-established process to pass laws and contest them.

Hollow promises and threats will only divert people from doing the right thing — honoring the truth and being involved in a process whereby our rights and liberties are protected by a respect of the law, not by rhetoric.

Raney’s statement is news because his position is in the minority among Idaho sheriffs. Consider, for example, Madison County Sheriff Roy Klingler.

President Obama introduced proposals for sweeping federal gun control. Klingler said ahead of that announcement, he had no reservations being outspoken against gun control legislation.

“I personally am sick and tired of the government putting regulations in place that affect our personal rights, our property rights and the Constitution,” said Klingler.

“I think these states passing these laws are out of control,” he said. On Wednesday, the White House will propose federal firearms control — something Klingler said he cannot support.

Or, the newly elected Canyon County Sheriff.

Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue says he won’t enforce any new federal firearms restrictions, joining a chorus of county sheriffs across the U.S. who have publicly denounced President Barack Obama’s executive orders.

As I pointed out in an earlier post,  the Idaho State Legislature is contemplating legislation, to be introduced by Senator Marv Hagedorn, revisiting the state’s ban on guns in schools and courthouses. Considering a recent event when a group of scouts visited the Capitol, I wonder if the Legislators might decide to follow through on plans to eliminate the ban on guns in schools and courthouses but reinstate a ban where their own personal safety is a concern.

A man with a handgun used a tour for Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts as cover to inspect legislators’ desks and reach into a waste bin on the House floor.

Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill said: “To think that somebody is bold enough to have followed these children around with a sidearm in plain sight — who is also bold enough to go through trash cans, take pictures of representatives’ desks and shuffle their papers — all of that created a great deal of concern.”

As a result, public access to the House and Senate chambers has been suspended on weekends and after 6 p.m. weekdays, though the Capitol remains open until 10 p.m.

The man attached himself to an evening tour led by freshman Rep. James Holtzclaw, R-Meridian, who had been asked by a constituent to show the Cubs and Scouts around. “I thought he was a parent,” Holtzclaw said, noting that the troop leader assumed the man was a security officer because of his gun.

The man’s identity is unknown. He left the Capitol after an unarmed guard confronted him. The man said something like, “If I’m not being arrested or detained, I don’t have to answer your questions.”

Guns and long knives were banned in the Capitol from 1996 to 2008 by executive order. Gov. Butch Otter let the order expire, citing a 2008 law in which the Legislature said it had exclusive power to regulate guns in Idaho.

Signs were erected outside the House and Senate galleries after the 2012 Occupy protests. They list prohibitions: food, drinks, men wearing hats, signs, sitting on rails, cellphones, distracting noises. Bags are subject to search. But there is no firearm ban.

The unknown man was obeying the law. He was “carrying”, but left his hat outside the Capitol. Once they reinstate the firearm ban in the Capitol, we can file this under “political hypocrisy”.

What are the Chances of a Ban on Assault Weapons?

We know that support for a ban on semi-automatic weapons has slipped over the last decade.

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It will be interesting to see if attitudes change as a result of the latest tragedies. Eric Voeten, writing at The Monkey Cage, offers an interesting argument that recent Court rulings might actually make a ban on Assault Weapons more likely.

In the aftermath of yesterday’s tragedy, several experts argue that new gun control measures are unlikely to succeed in part because of recent Court rulings that have strengthened the second amendment, including last week’s Seventh Circuit ruling written by Richard Posner, who cites this Monkey Cage post in the opinion! I suspect this is true for some gun control measures but not for others. Indeed, it may strengthen the case for some forms of gun control.

Consider a ban on “assault weapons,” something that plausibly could have prevented  yesterday’s tragedy or could have limited the number of victims.  There is no defensive rationale for owning semi-automatic weapons that hold 10 rounds or more. No-one hunts with these weapons. People may enjoy owning them and shooting them but that is a fairly limited rationale. The case against a ban on semi-automatic weapons rests strongly on a “slippery slope” logic: the idea that once you start outlawing some weapons legislators will gradually impose more severe restrictions.

Recent Supreme Court rulings undermine that logic. The more credible the protection of core Second Amendment rights, the less credible the slippery slope argument. That is: fewer people should be concerned that the government is going to take away their hunting rifle or handgun next if the Supreme Court firmly protects Second Amendment rights. [A ban on semi-automatic rifle almost certainly does not violate the Second Amendment].

I am not saying that the NRA will buy this argument but contrary to gun control more generally,bans on semi-automatic rifles are popular with the public. If legislators feel assured that the Supreme Court protects core gun rights, then they have at least an argument to their constituents for accepting such a ban. A ban on the manufacturing and sale of semi-automatic rifles would also have important spillover effects for Central America, where many massacres are committed with assault weapons purchased in the U.S.. This may matter too in certain key states. In short, I don’t think it is so unlikely that the next Congress will pass a new and improved version of the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 and I think that we will hear pro-gun control advocates using the Second Amendment rulings as an argument in favor of such a ban.

Clackamas Deja vu

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It sounds familiar doesn’t it? A gunman, dressed in body armor, wearing a mask and carrying an assault rifle, goes on a shooting rampage before taking his own life.

In this case, it was in the Portland, Oregon Clackamas Town Center Mall.

What follows will also be familiar. Stories from the survivors. Theories as to what caused the shooter to do what he did. The narrative will be numbingly familiar, but there will be no serious discussion about gun control. The only gun control that Americans seem willing to accept is the one from gun manufacturers- make assault rifles so cheap, they jam before the carnage gets too massive.

Look Under a Rock- There is Jim DeMint

The Right Wing bloggers are in a feeding frenzy blaming Obama and Sec. of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, for failing to catch the “crotch bomber”.

Tea bagging Senator Jim DeMint (R SC) appeared on Fox News to express his “concern” about the failure of the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) to “connect the dots”.

Asked by host Chris Wallace whether he was concerned that “the Obama administration has not done as good a job as it should have in connecting the dots,” DeMint replied “Chris, I am concerned, because it’s related to another issue that we’re dealing with now in the Senate. The administration is intent on unionizing and submitting our airport security to union bosses’ collective bargaining”

DeMint adds the odd interjection about “another issue” because he is trying to deflect the fact that he is responsible for the lack of leadership at TSA. What DeMint fails to mention (and Wallace does not call him on) is that the good Senator from South Carolina has a hold on the conformation of Erroll Southers as head of TSA. Why would DeMint jeopardize the Nation’s security by refusing to confirm a leader at TSA who could effectively coordinate airport security? Because he is afraid Southers might possibly allow airport screeners to unionize.

Of course, it is not just DeMint willing to obstruct National Security for political points.

…over one hundred Republican Representatives voted against a 2010 appropriations bill which set aside $1.1 billion for explosives detection systems.  These are the same kind of systems which would theoretically detect the kind of explosives Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab had attached to him when he tried to blow up flight 253.

The “No Everything” Republican party strikes again.