Tuesday, March 12, 2019

WSJ: Rural Sheriffs Defy New Gun Measures

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal had this article about a growing movement among sheriffs in states that are enacting a growing number of gun control laws like so-called "universal" background checks.  Sheriffs say they will not enforce such laws:
In swaths of rural America, county sheriffs, prosecutors and other local officials are mounting resistance to gun-control measures moving through legislatures in Democratic-led states.

The “Second Amendment sanctuary” movement has taken hold in more than 100 counties in several states, including New Mexico and Illinois, where local law-enforcement and county leaders are saying they won’t enforce new legislation that infringes on the constitutional right to bear arms.

For instance, in New Mexico, 30 of 33 county sheriffs have signed a letter pledging to not help enforce several gun-control measures supported by Democrats in Santa Fe, according to the state’s sheriff association. The sheriffs, who are elected, say they are heeding the wishes of voters in the counties they serve. More than two dozen counties in the state have enacted “sanctuary” resolutions backing the sheriffs and affirming that no tax dollars in their jurisdictions should go to enforcing the proposed laws.
The Journal notes that a number of these sheriffs view this as a "conservative version" of sanctuary cities that protect immigrants who are in the country illegally.  The article also showed a graphic that points out the urban/rural divide on several issues including gun rights.
Source: Pew Research Center web survey of 3,930 U.S. adults conducted March 13-27 and April 4-18, 2017; margin of error 2.8 percentage points
It's not just sheriff's that are questioning the new laws. 
“We’re all part of the same state, but almost all the crime we’re seeing and the weapons we’re seeing are coming out of the city,” said Brandon Zanotti, the Democratic state’s attorney of Williamson County in Illinois located 300 miles south of Chicago.

Mr. Zanotti objects to proposed restrictions on semiautomatic weapons in Illinois because, he says, they would burden law enforcement and turn otherwise law-abiding citizens into criminals.

Sheriffs and prosecutors have discretion to decide whether to arrest or charge someone for committing a crime, but that flexibility is case-by-case, says Norman Williams, a Willamette University law professor. He drew a distinction between prosecutorial discretion and a categorical refusal to enforce a law. The latter undermines the rule of law, he said.
Sheriff's and prosecutors are elected and those in rural areas tend to share the views of those who elected them. 

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