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Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of BizPac Review.
The rule of law should reign supreme in any peaceful society, and when the law is broken society’s enforcers should do their duty to the best of their ability. But what if a law is oppressive or unjust? What if a law called for segregation, as it once did not so long ago, or even Nazi or Soviet-style genocide? Would society’s enforcers, the police, have a duty to disobey?
That’s what former Graham County, Arizona sheriff Richard Mack and his organization, the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, believes should happen if Federal agents try to enforce what they view as unconstitutional and oppressive gun, tax, or land management laws in their counties.
According to the Washington Post, Mack has enlisted “several hundred” of the nation’s over 3,000 sheriffs as direct members of his organization and that hundreds more are sympathetic to their cause. At the group’s 2014 convention, several dozen sheriffs even signed a declaration that they would actively resist any federal agent who conducts certain unconstitutional activities in their jurisdictions such as unlawfully seizing or trying to register firearms.
The signed statement ends with these words, “There is no greater obligation or responsibility of any government officer than to protect the rights of the people. Thus, any conduct contrary to the United States Constitution, Declaration of Independence, or the Bill of Rights will be dealt with as criminal activity.”
The association’s logic revolves around the 10th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, a key part of the separation of powers expressed by our nation’s founders. “We further reaffirm that ‘The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.'”
Mack told the Post, “The government was forcing me to participate in a gun control scheme that I knew was unconstitutional. When all law enforcement is forced into that position by state or federal legislators, which one do we side with? And I believe there is a proper way to conduct oneself in knowing the difference between enforcing stupid laws and enforcing the principles of the Constitution.”
The principle of the “lesser magistrate” being a bulwark against an oppressive and tyrannical larger governmental entity certainly applies here. According to Mack, “I have never advocated violence. I spent 20 years in law enforcement without ever beating up anybody … when you have no place else to go, when all the courts are against you, all the legislators are against you, where else do you go? I believe to the local county sheriff … and if that means standing against the federal government, then so damn be it.”
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