“In 1994 President Clinton signed the Brady Bill into law . . . it was a stupid crazy law, and the national media to this day has not told the truth about the Brady Bill. It was the first time in history where the federal government attempted to commandeer the office of Sheriff for federal bidding and literally forcing us—sheriffs across the country—to participate in a gun-control law and they literally threatened to arrest us if we failed to comply. I was the first sheriff in American history to sue the federal government in the United States Supreme Court and win. Six other sheriffs joined that lawsuit and Sheriff Jay Printz and I ended up at the Supreme Court together. It cost me my re-election bid and it catapulted him. . . .” —Sheriff Richard Mack
Sheriff Richard Mack is best known for having sued the federal government in 1994 over the Brady Bill, portions of which attempted to force states to perform background checks on anyone trying to buy a handgun. He and fellow Sheriff Jay Printz won their case at the Supreme Court. Now, more than 20 years later, has their landmark victory actually done any good? Sheriff Mack told me that practically no sheriff in office today has even heard of the fight, let alone read the Supreme Court decision, and that alone is heartbreaking. Moreover, that hard-fought won appears to have done next to nothing toward empowering today’s county sheriff, even though that position is arguably the most powerful in the land.
Recently, I had the honor and pleasure of chatting with Sheriff Mack about several issues, including the concept of the “Constitutional Sheriff,” a position he feels should be mandatory in every county in America.
Which US Constitution do the Sheriffs of America to enforce the laws of their counties?
I don’t think sheriffs are familiar with either one and that’s the problem. They just take orders from the legislators and the judges, and again that’s a mistake because law enforcement is part of the Executive Branch. We are the executors of the law. There are three separate branches of the government that protect our liberties. The law-enforcement community will readily admit they are completely controlled by the other two branches. Right there, we have destroyed one-third of the checks and balances established by the separation of powers. They [sheriffs] wouldn’t know either Constitution if it hit them in the head.
Sometime in US history, sheriffs stopped studying the Constitution. When and why did this occur? Was it by design?
A lot of it happened at the end of the Civil War because the federal government became all-powerful. They also needed a way to keep sheriffs and elected officials from experimenting with things like state sovereignty, so that gave rise to the legalized bribery system known as “federal grants.” So they’ve been buying off local officials through those federal grants for a long time. I’d like to remind you all that we in law enforcement are not puppets of legislators, we are not puppets of the judicial system, we must remain independent. We must know the Constitution and we must enforce it. We have lost the Executive Branch as a means of checks and balances of the corrupt judges and politicians.
What specific wording in the Constitution gives a sheriff the right to oppose the federal government?
As soon as that sheriff takes his or her oath, they’ve made that commitment. He swore to uphold, defend, protect and preserve the Constitution—the organic one. In my lawsuit, the judge said, “Sheriff Mack was given the choice of keeping his oath or obeying the law,” and I’d say that it was the most important point that every sheriff, cop and chief of police learned in this country: when a legislative body gives you a law for you to enforce, you can tell them no to the legislators, and I believe it is our responsibility to do just that.
A historical proof of that: Rosa Parks was taken to jail and booked because of the charge: not giving her seat to a white man. I ask law-enforcement officials this: you go back into time, to September 1, 1955. Are you going to arrest her or are you going to make sure that she gets home safely? Most cops say they wouldn’t have arrested her, but I say baloney because you do the opposite today: you write all these ridiculous tickets, you force people to wear a seatbelt.
The sheriff has an obligation to say no to local and federal legislators. If anybody from the federal government commits a crime ,I will stand against them, and I will protect the people of my county because that it what I promised to do and that is what my job is for, and I will not allow them to be abused or victimized by any public official of any kind or some bureaucrat from Washington, DC. That’s what we’re supposed to do. Period. End of story.
Who is a sheriff’s boss?
The people of his county.
What can a judge tell a sheriff?
Not a damn thing.
The judge is a partner.
The sheriff is required to work with a judge, but not for a judge. If a judge tells a sheriff to go arrest somebody, the sheriff investigates it and decides what to do. In my county, I opposed the judge at times. One time, he told me to go evict a Mexican family, and I told him, “I’m not going to do this. You can try and get somebody else to do it, but I will stop them, too.”
Did any politicians ever tell you what to do?
One time early on, I went to a meeting in Phoenix, where they tried to tell me this is how it’s done. I never saw so many drunks, so many people using such foul language. These people [politicians] try to look so honorable, somebody worthy of admiration, and nothing could be further from the truth. They are not honorable, they are not good people. They have drinking problems, marital problems, morality problems, and they do not care about the people they are supposed to be serving.
The only other time was the federal government telling me to enforce the Brady Bill and I sued them. I don’t think we as Sheriffs and law enforcement should be suing. We should be doing, not suing. We should be saying no and standing firm. I do not advocate violence, but I do advocate standing strong and standing with numbers.
How can American sheriffs openly oppose the federal government and do so without retribution?
A lot of them getting together and doing it. If you only have one or two, they’ll make an example of them. We have had some stand as lone rangers. Sheriff Glenn Palmer in Grant County, Oregon has been fighting the Forest Service and protecting his citizens from the capricious laws for over 12 years, and he keeps getting re-elected in landslides.
Sheriff Dave Mattis of Bighorn County, Wyoming was the first Constitutional sheriff and he stood against the IRS and others. He had a policy that all federal agents had to check with him before they did anything in his county. Every sheriff should have that. And every federal agent should want that, because they want to do it right.
Sheriff Brad Rogers from Elkhart County, Indiana defended an Amish farmer who didn’t even vote. This guy was being attacked by the FDA telling him to pasteurize his milk. They came in a did spot inspections on his dairy farm and he passed them all. They found no diseases, nothing wrong but they kept coming after him anyway. Finally, he calls the sheriff and says, “I’m tired of this charade, I’ve opened up my property to these people when I didn’t have to, and I want to left alone now.” The sheriff told the FDA that if they came back in his county again without duly signed warrants, he would arrest them for trespassing. The FDA then threatened to arrest the sheriff for felony obstruction of justice, so Sheriff Rogers called me and we drafted a letter to the FDA. Soon after, the Amish farmer got a letter from the FDA saying everything was okay and they [FDA] haven’t been back in three years.
Imagine if every state had a dozen or more sheriffs doing just that and defending liberty as their ultimate goal. What if we had somebody who put liberty and freedom first, the rights of the individual first and against any bureaucrat coming into their county. That would spell exactly what our goal is: restoring liberty.
What if we had 3,000 sheriffs doing just this: defending liberty and the organic Constitution?
We would literally change this country tomorrow.
If you want to take back America, then have a Constitutional Sheriff in your county. A Constitutional Sheriff* is one who keeps his oath of office and knows and understands the organic Constitution, and who enforces the principles of liberty.
*Today, just over 10% of all Sheriffs in America are Constitutional Sheriffs.