Lou Vallario, Garfield County Sheriff, rejects all gun background checks as unconstitutional
Last week, Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith announced on Facebook that he wouldn't enforce gun laws he considered to be unconstitutional. Now, other lawmen are joining in. Garfield County Lou Vallario has written an essay declaring the Second Amendment to be absolute, while Weld County Sheriff John Cooke also voices constitutional concerns. Only Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson suggests that people like him shouldn't be making such calls. Read their views below.
In his manifesto, originally posted on his Facebook page, Larimer County's Smith wrote that as sheriff, he would not "enforce unconstitutional federal laws...obey unconstitutional laws...allow others to violate the Constitutional Rights of those in my county."
Among the proposals he viewed as suspect were background checks. Here's an excerpt:
The only possible way to achieve "universal background checks" for private transactions of lawfully-owned firearms is to register every single firearm in existence in our nation. Otherwise, the federal government could never prove the transaction of a firearm. Anyone who fails to go through with such registration will be defined as a criminal by our federal government. That same government which has all too often has failed to enforce the current laws against criminal predators, will then start to discriminately target and prosecute law-abiding Americans who are simply exercising their Constitutionally recognized Right to keep and bear arms.Smith subsequently softened this viewpoint to some degree, with a spokesman stressing that he was merely expressing his thoughts rather than declaring that only his opinion of constitutionality counted.
In a Denver Post interview, Weld County's Cooke offered no such caveats. He said he disagreed with all of the gun-control measures promoted by the Obama administration, including universal background checks, which he sees as a slippery slope to gun registration for all.
"I'm not going to help [Obama] in any way," Cooke told the paper. "I'm not going to enforce it because it's unenforceable and because I don't have the resources. The federal government doesn't have the resources."
For his part, Vallario focuses on philosophy, not practicality. His entire missive, published on the Garfield County Republican Party's website, is below, but here's an excerpt:
Simply put, I cannot and will not compromise my rights afforded me and others under the Constitution of the United States, particularly the Second Amendment. The starting point and ending point of our position should be that the rights of law abiding citizens to "keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." That last phrase, carefully crafted by the Founding Fathers, makes this right absolute. Nothing further should be discussed. No compromise should be considered.In another section, Vallario admits that background checks didn't always seem like a crazy idea to him, but he's had a change of heart:
There was a time when I supported data bases and background checks, but now, convinced that they will not prevent evil people from being evil, I oppose ANY government intervention into the rights of law abiding citizens. As a law enforcement official, I know that criminals will not comply with these requirements. If gang-banger #1 wants to buy a gun from gang-banger #2, he will not first seek a background check. He's a criminal and does not abide by the law. Even if he did clear a background check, how will this process prevent him from shooting up a school, a mall, or a rival gang? It won't. Nor will it prevent other evil people from doing heinous things to society. Some of our most notorious serial killers never used a gun, yet they were responsible for killing hundreds of people. Therefore background checks and data bases serve no purpose other than creating a way to take honest, law-abiding citizens and turn them into criminals if they don't comply.Presumably, Arapahoe County's Robinson has to deal with more actual gang-bangers than does Garfield County's Vallario. Yet in an op-ed circulated by his office, Robinson makes it clear that he feels neither he nor any of his fellow sheriffs should be the final word on the constitutionality of anything.
Continue to read the essays of sheriff's Lou Vallario and Grayson Robinson.