This article first appeared at the McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Wednesday, August 27, 2014:
In just the last five years, both Oath Keepers and the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA) have reported increased numbers of members and influence. For instance, in February CSPOA announced that more than 480 of the country’s 3080 county sheriffs have signed up and enlisted in their campaign, promising to uphold their oaths to defend the constitutions of their states and the federal government. This has made NBC News nervous and, in their latest report, Gun Laws, four writers investigated the growing constitutional Sheriff movement.
Franklin Shook, a member of the board of Oath Keepers, explained that “What Oath Keepers is saying is: when you get an order to go to somebody’s house to collect one of these [illegal] guns, just stand down.” He added:
Say peacefully: I refuse to carry out an unlawful order, and we … will do everything in our power to keep public pressure on your side to keep you from getting in trouble for standing down.
That makes Oath Keepers extremely dangerous to the system.
Sheriff Richard Mack – known popularly as just Sheriff Mack – tells of the time when he realized that he not only had to stand up for his own oath of office but that he was called as well to remind his fellow county sheriffs of their own responsibilities to uphold their own:
Back in 1988 I left the job I loved to move to Arizona to run for Graham County Sheriff. Nobody thought I could win … I won [and] then I ran for reelection in 1992. I won again.
Soon thereafter the Brady Bill was signed into law by [President] Bill Clinton. Three federal agents showed up at our Arizona Sheriffs’ Association meeting and handed us each a document from the Department of the Treasury which detailed what our “orders” were to comply with the Brady Bill.
All the sheriffs were shocked and against it. However, each sheriff said there was nothing we could do about it [saying] “You can’t fight City Hall.” … I disagreed and decided to sue my own government. Everybody said I was crazy and I could not win. Six other sheriffs from various parts of the USA joined the lawsuit. The case [Printz v. United States] went all the way to the US Supreme Court and miracle of miracles, we won!
As the movement has grown, so has the pushback from the gun controllers like NBC news, who claim that it is essentially a protest movement rather than an educational movement resulting in sheriffs pushing back against overweening government regulation. Sheriff Mike Lewis, Wicomico County, Maryland, can’t understand why he is being targeted merely for supporting and defending the Constitution:
Why are we being penalized? Why are we being crucified because we’re standing up for our Second Amendment rights? Why does everybody look at us like are right-wing nuts because we’re standing up for our constitutional rights?
The answer, of course, is that as more and more county sheriffs recognize the seriousness of their responsibility under their oaths of office and, in the process, become Constitutional Sheriffs, they represent a real challenge and an increasing threat to gun controllers who wish to impose federal regulations onto local citizens. For example, Sheriff Tony Desmond of Schoharie County, New York, put it simply: “if you have an assault weapon which under the state’s [new] SAFE act is considered illegal, I don’t look at it as being illegal just because someone says it is.” Sheriff John Cook of Weld County, Colorado, is another who takes his oath of office seriously. Cook was one of nine sheriffs who sued the state of Colorado over its gun control laws passed last summer. Said Cook, “It’s not the judge’s job to tell me what I can and can’t enforce. I’m still the one who has to say where do I put my priorities and resources? It’s not going to be there.”
Author Jeff Wright in his The Citizens Last Stand: Are You Ready?, explains the concept of the sovereign citizen and how delegation of limited authority of those citizens flows upwards from the citizens themselves to the county, to the state, and ultimately to the federal government:
This authority flows upwards from the sovereign citizens through the counties to the states and the federal government. It does not flow downwards to the citizens. Even when it is an issue of federal jurisdiction, whenever an employee or official of the federal government enters a county to perform their duties under the law, they must report to the County Sheriff. In all cases, the states and the federal government are ultimately subservient to the people.
It is therefore the responsibility of the County Sheriff to ensure that the rights and liberties of citizens are upheld, and to protect them from usurpation or abrogation by either the state or the federal government.
The authors at NBC news, however, see things a little differently. They view the Constitutional Sheriff movement as one of protest – that they are mainly a political action group designed to thwart the efforts of gun controllers to impose their will on citizens. In simple fact, however, these actions that are resisting federal and state incursions into precious constitutional rights flow from the education enjoyed by the Constitutional Sheriffs and their increasing recognition that they are the last line of defense against overweening government.
What the growth of the Constitutional Sheriff’s movement, and its recognition as a threat by NBC news and others, illustrates is the effectiveness of an educational program which is then followed by political action. It is one of the necessary pieces of the puzzle to be put in place as the efforts to restore the Republic continue: education first, action later.