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Hullabaloo


Thursday, November 05, 2015

 
Support your local constitutional expert

by digby

Another county in Oregon passed a measure on Tuesday allowing the sheriff to ignore federal and state law, instructing him to "interpret the constitution" as he sees fit.  This is yet another example of the mainstreaming of right wing extremists. I wrote about it for Salon this morning:

Just a couple of months ago, we witnessed yet another horrific mass shooting, this time in Roseburg, Oregon. A young man with a penchant for guns and a lot of problems went into a community college classroom and started shooting people. We all looked on in shock, as we always do. Gun control leaders and others spoke out, as they always do, and political leaders took to the airwaves to say that this time, finally, this country had reached the limits of its patience. This time, surely, everything would have to change. And inevitably, the very next thought for most people watching was: “If they couldn’t do anything about this after Newtown, what makes anyone think they’ll do something now?”
But something did happen this time, something we hadn’t seen before. In the close knit community of Roseburg, the local gun proliferation advocates stepped up immediately to defend their right to bear arms, even as nine dead bodies, riddled with gunshots, lay in the morgue. When the president came to comfort the families, this is what greeted him.
As the story unfolded, it was revealed that the local sheriff John Hanlin’s Facebook page featured a notorious conspiracy video suggesting that the government staged the Sandy Hook massacre. He wrote beneath the video, “This makes me wonder who we can trust anymore … watch, listen and keep an open mind.” Hanlin, like a number of sheriffs around the country, had also written a letter two years before to Vice President Joe Biden saying he would never comply with any gun control law coming from the Obama administration. After the mass shooting in his own jurisdiction, he told the press that he didn’t believe the conspiracy video but made it quite clear that he had not changed his mind on gun control.
The wording of Hanlin’s letter suggested that he was affiliated with a group of sheriffs around the nation who had pledged to “oppose and disallow” any federal moves to regulate guns in the wake of Newtown. This group was led by a famous ex-sheriff by the name of Richard Mack who had been associated with the NRA and the gun rights movement since the ’90s. Mack had recently formed a group called the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA) composed of law enforcement officers who see the group as “the one who can say to the feds, ‘Beyond these bounds you shall not pass.’”
The “oppose and disallow” pledge was later endorsed by the Oath Keepers, another law enforcement and ex-military organization allegedly dedicated to preserving the constitution by opposing the federal government, along with others such as the John Birch Society and Gun Owners of America. They called themselves the “Liberty Coalition”, all of them dedicated to a belief in defying the federal government in the event the federal government defies the Constitution. Who decides what constitutes a defiance of the constitution is not specified, but they do seem to all agree that anything but totally unfettered gun rights is a step toward totalitarianism.
Up until now, this phenomenon was about law enforcement officers openly refusing to enforce federal laws with which they disagree. Indeed, another Oregon Sheriff (and something of a gun rights celebrity) by the name of Tim Mueller also wrote a letter to Vice President Biden and stated explicitly:
“Any federal regulation enacted by Congress or by executive order of the President offending the constitutional rights of my citizens shall not be enforced by me or my deputies. I refuse to participate, or stand idly by, while my citizens are turned into criminals due to the unconstitutional actions of misguided politicians.”
You’ll note that his refusal to enforce federal law wasn’t confined to the 2nd Amendment.
But it appears the movement is no longer confined to federal matters. People are deciding that these sheriffs have the right to reject state laws with which they disagreeas well. Just this week, Coos County Oregon passed a measure which allows the sheriff to refuse to enforce both state and federal gun laws he believes are unconstitutional. It also stipulates that no money or resources may be used to enforce the state’s newly expanded background checks. This county neighbors Roseburg. The measure passed with 60 percent of the vote. It is the third Oregon county to pass such a measure.
Read on. There's more.