ALL TOGETHER NOW, IN UNISON, LET'S EXPRESS OUR CONDOLENCES TO THE FAMILIES OF THE UMPQUA COMMUNITY COLLEGE NINE
HERE’S ONE REASON WHY BANNING ASSAULT RIFLES AND LARGE CAPACITY MAGAZINES AND INSTITUTING UNIVERSAL BACKGROUND CHECKS IS SO DIFFICULT
The Sheriff Investigating The Oregon Shooting Believes Some Seriously Fringe Things About Guns
Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin, who is overseeing much of the law enforcement response to, believes some highly unusual things about gun rights and the Constitution. Two years ago, when Vice President Joe Biden was spearheading the Obama administration’s response to the Sandy Hook school shooting, Hanlin wrote Biden . The letter is also riddled with language commonly used by the “,” a right-wing veterans and law enforcement group that is .
Several aspects of this letter are worth noting, but the most revealing part of the letter may be the unusual way that Hanlin introduces his pledge to oppose federal officials. “The United States Supreme Court has ruled that when a Sheriff chooses to enforce an unconstitutional directive, he is violating his Constitutional Oath. I will NOT violate my Constitutional Oath.”
|THE OATH KEEPERS|
This rhetoric, which focuses on an oath to follow the Constitution and a refusal to violate that oath, is . The Oath Keepers describe themselves as an “association of current and formerly serving military, police, and first responders, who pledge to fulfill the oath all military and police take to ‘defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.'” Oath Keepers played a major role in the between federal agents and supporters of the racist Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy in 2014. Their website prominently touts their offer to in order to “protect her against unlawful arrest” (Davis’s attorneys declined this offer).
Though the Oath Keepers align themselves with the Constitution, they are also about government officials “disarm[ing] the American people,” “confiscat[ing] the property of the American people, including food and other essential supplies,” and “blockad[ing] American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps.” Their founder once warned that America could be ruled by a “dominatrix-in-chief” named “Hitlery” who would .
Sheriff Hanlin, it should be noted, is far from alone in his willingness to stand against federal officials. The Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, a group led by Oath Keeper board member Richard Mack, claims that .
Hanlin’s letter also contains a number of statements suggesting that he holds views about the Constitution that place him well to the right of even the most conservative members of the Supreme Court. Hanlin’s letter implies, for example, that the Obama administration was considering proposals that would violate the Second Amendment at the time of this letter, but this implication is not true.
|SANDY HOOK DECEMBER 14, 2012|
The administration in the wake of Sandy Hook — universal background checks, an assault rifle ban and a ban on high capacity magazines. All of these are constitutional gun regulations. As Justice Antonin Scalia explained in the Supreme Court’s decision, “nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill,” and background checks are an essential element of such prohibitions. Similarly, assault rifle and high capacity magazine bans fit within ‘s statement that the government may still ban “dangerous and unusual weapons.”
Hanlin’s letter also blurs the line between a matter that is lawfully within state officials’ discretion and something much more akin to insurrection. Under the Supreme Court’s “,” states may refuse to enforce federal laws that they do not wish to devote their resources to enforcing. For this reason, provided that state law gives him the discretion to do so, Hanlin is permitted to deny his department’s resources to federal officials seeking to enforce federal gun laws.
What Hanlin may not do, however, is unilaterally assign himself the power to decide what is or is not constitutional and then refuse to “permit the enforcement” of federal laws by “federal officers within the borders of Douglas County Oregon.” This rule stretches back at least as far as the late nineteenth century, when California after the marshal shot and killed a man who threatened the life of a sitting supreme court justice. In ordering the charges dropped, the Supreme Court explained that a federal official who “is held in custody in violation of the Constitution or a law of the United States, or for an act done or omitted in pursuance of a law of the United States. . . must be discharged.”
|"THE SANDY HOOK SHOOTING -FULLY EXPOSED"|
If Hanlin believes that the federal government is acting unconstitutionally, he can file a lawsuit challenging the federal government’s action. But local sheriffs are not permitted to use the powers of their office to thwart federal officials trying to carry out their own duties.
The reason why local sheriffs do not have this power should be obvious. If local law enforcement did have the power to decide on their own what the Constitution says, and then to enforce their idiosyncratic notions about our founding document against federal officials, then this would be a recipe for armed conflicts between federal and local officials.
TPM's Catherine Thompson reports that Hanlin also posted a link on Facebook to a called "The Sandy Hook Shooting - Fully Exposed."
NOW IT'S MY TURN: Let’s take a moment to remember that Hanlin’s letter was written a month after 20 young children between the ages of five and seven got their stomachs ripped open, their guts splattered across the floor and their heads blown apart by Adam Lanza and either a Bushmaster XM15-E2S or a Glock 20SF. Hanlin’s letter talks about “freedoms guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution” to freely own and use guns but nowhere in the letter is one other guaranteed right as noted in our Declaration of Independence – the right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. I suppose Hanlin expressed his sadness and offered his condolences – as public officials often do following a mass shooting – to the parents, brothers and sisters of the 20 children gunned down in Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012, those children who will never have the opportunity to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness nor will they ever be able to enjoy the and rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution.
I’m assuming that Sheriff Hanlin believes that this exchange of the lives of 20 youngsters for the freedom to bear arms is a fair exchange.
I suspect that the parents of those children do not.
|SANDY HOOK CHILDREN|