The story of some county sheriffs ignoring gun laws is drawing a lot of interest on the Internet. The sheriffs are refusing to enforce gun laws that many see as unconstitutional, NBC News reported Thursday.
Sheriff Mike Lewis of Wicomico County, Maryland, told NBC, “State police and highway patrol get their orders from the governor. I get my orders from the citizens in this county.”
Lewis is not alone. He is part of gun rights supporting law enforcement officials who joined groups like Oath Keepers and the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association. Those organizations encourage peace officers to take a stand against gun control laws.
A sheriff’s role is spelled out not in the US Constitution but in individual state constitutions. There are 3,080 sheriffs in the US. Almost all of them are elected. By contrast, almost all city police officials are appointed.
Lewis said that puts him and other like-minded sheriffs in the position to stand up to gun laws that they consider to violate the US Constitution under the Second Amendment, that guarantees the right to bear arms. Many other local law enforcement officials, however, say that moderate gun control laws don’t violate the Constitution but provide safety to the average citizen from criminals or mentally disturbed people.
“The role of a sheriff is to be the interposer between the law and the citizen,” Maryland Delegate Don Dwyer, an Anne Arundel County Republican told NBC. “He should stand between the government and citizen in every issue pertaining to the law.”
Lewis is president of the Maryland Sheriffs’ Association. He was one of the law enforcement officials who testified against the state’s Firearms Safety Act (FSA) before it was eventually passed into law last year. The FSA law is regarded as one of the strictest gun laws in the country. The act forces gun applicants to supply fingerprints and complete training to get a handgun license online. It also bans 45 types of guns and limits magazine clips to 10 rounds. It also bans gun ownership to anyone who has been involuntarily committed to a mental health treatment facility. Critics say the latter requirement could ultimately discourage some troubled people from seeking help out of concern they could be committed and lose their rights to own a gun.