After Obama signed 23 executive orders for stricter gun control measures, with proposals to Congress, opposition to his proposals is growing among state law enforcement officials and lawmakers.
The Huffington Post reports that two sheriffs in Oregon, Linn County Sheriff Tim Mueller and Crook County Sheriff Jim Hensley, have announced they will not enforce the new federal gun laws. The sheriffs, in a joint letter to Vice President Joe Biden, said they will not enforce laws they believe are unconstitutional.
CNN reports that Sheriff Mueller posted the letter to the sheriff department's Facebook page.The letter has received about 60,000 likes.
According to The Huffiington Post, Mueller and Hensley wrote:
"We must not allow, nor shall we tolerate, the actions of criminals, no matter how heinous the crimes, to prompt politicians to enact laws that will infringe upon the liberties of responsible citizens who have broken no laws."USA Today reports the letter alleged that some politicians were "attempting to exploit the deaths of innocent victims" by pushing laws that would violate the rights of law-abiding citizens. Sheriff Mueller said having taken an oath to uphold the Constitution, he would not support laws which violate their rights.
In an interview with AP, he said he felt compelled to speak out because while sheriffs were not consulted by Biden's task force, their constituents have been making inquiries about the impact of new gun control laws.
He said: "We're restricted and prohibited from enforcing all types of federal laws, including immigration laws. It would be unreasonable for anyone to think that I would enforce a federal firearms law."
The sheriff reckons that Biden would probably not receive his letter, but said: "It needed to be said, so I said it... I tried to be as respectful as possible, but I also needed to get my point across."
The Examiner reports that Minnesota's Pine County Sheriff Robin Cole, also wrote a letter to his constituents assuring that he will "refuse" to enforce any federal law that he believes infringes the Second Amendment.
According to The Huffington Post, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ken.) said he would introduce legislation to block Obama's gun control executive orders.
Measures are being pushed in Missouri, Texas, South Carolina and North Dakota state legislatures to empower state authorities to ignore federal gun laws, The Examiner reports.
The website lists some of the measures across the states:
In Missouri Representative Casey Guernsey proposed the House Bill 170, the Missouri 2nd Amendment Preservation Act, that would "nullify any and all federal acts, orders, laws, statutes, rules, or regulations of the federal government on personal firearms, firearm accessories, and ammunition."
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) has proposed a state legislation that would make make it illegal to enforce in Mississippi any "unconstitutional" gun control policy of the Obama administration.
In South Carolina, joint resolution S 0224 is proposed to "nullify in South Carolina any Presidential Executive order restricting, abridging, or otherwise infringing upon a citizens second amendment right to keep and bear arms."
In North Carolina, lawmakers proposed Measure Actions for HB 1183 on Jan. 11, 2013. The bill forbids "state governmental entities from providing aid and assistance to the federal government or any other governmental entity for the investigation, enforcement, and prosecution of federal firearms laws not in force as of January 1, 2013."
In Texas, the proposed Second Amendment Preservation Act (HB553) nullifies "potentially anything from the federal government that contravenes in the State of Texas."
The Huffington Post reports that a Republican lawmaker in Tennessee has proposed legislation to ban enforcement of any new federal gun control law. State Rep. Joe Carr 's(R-Murfreesboro) bill makes it a misdemeanor for federal law enforcement to enforce any new federal gun bans in Tennessee.
According to Carr, the proposal will empower residents to "defend themselves from tyranny." He said: “In light of recent comments and actions taken by President Obama and Vice President (Joe) Biden, I believe it is necessary that Tennessee proactively promote, maintain and defend Tennessee’s sovereignty guaranteed to it in the 10th Amendment to the Constitution... Additionally, this blatant assault on the Second Amendment by the Obama Administration is a systematic effort to disarm the law abiding citizens of the United States.”
Wyoming state Rep. Kendell Kroeker (R-Evansville), also introduced legislation to make enforcement of any new gun control laws a felony in the state.
The Huffington Post, however, reports that Jeffrey Fisher, a Stanford University law professor and former Supreme Court law clerk, said the proposed state laws violate the Constitution. He said: "It is elementary that a state cannot pass a statute that blocks enforcement of an otherwise enforceable federal law."
CNN reports that its Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin, said it is not for local officials to decide which laws are constitutional. He said: "A sheriff does not get to decide whether laws are constitutional. Unless a court invalidates a law, he's obligated to enforce it."
Another CNN legal analyst Paul Callan, said that in spite of the pronouncements of the sheriffs, it is the "FBI [that will] be enforcing them, treasury agents will enforce them. It won't be local police who would be out making sure federal gun regulations are enforced."
CNN also points out that in spite of the moves by officials and state lawmakers, recent surveys show that more Americans support stricter gun control laws after the Newtown tragedy.
CNN reports: "By a 51%-45% margin, Americans questioned in a new Pew Research Center poll said it was more important to control gun ownership than to protect gun rights. And by a 52%-35% margin, a new ABC News/Washington Post survey indicates the public says it is more likely to support some forms of gun control after last month's massacre. However, the polls showed continuing divisions along political and gender lines."