WASHINGTON, January 18 (By Maria Young for RIA Novosti) Across America, there is a growing barrage of fervent and emotional opposition from law enforcement officials and lawmakers to the gun restrictions proposed by US President Barack Obama on Wednesday.
“We must not allow… 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,” said Linn County, Oregon Sheriff Tim Mueller in an open letter this week to Vice President Joe Biden, who made gun control recommendations to Obama.
Obama asked Congress to pass a broad list of proposals including a ban on military-style assault weapons and armor-piercing ammunition, a 10-round limit on ammunition magazine clips, and comprehensive background checks for anyone trying to buy a gun.
“Any federal regulation enacted by Congress or by executive order of the President offending the constitutional rights of my citizens shall not be enforced by me or by my deputies, nor will I permit the enforcement of any unconstitutional regulations or orders by federal officers within the borders of Linn County,” Mueller wrote.
A handful of other county sheriffs across the country have expressed similar views.
Pine County, Minnesota Sheriff Robin Cole told local citizens in an open letter that “the right to keep and bear firearms is fundamental to our individual freedom and that firearms are a part of life in our county.”
“It comes down to an issue of the power of the federal government,” Cole told RIA Novosti, adding the mass shootings America has seen in recent months won’t be resolved by stricter gun control.
“As far as those incidents, those are horrible things, my heart bleeds for those people, but is it access to firearms or is it people with mental illness having access to society in general?” he asked.
State and local officials in at least eight states have publicly voiced their resistance to the proposals.
"If someone kicks open my door and they're entering my home, I'd like as many bullets as I could to protect my children, and if I only have three, then the ability for me to protect my family is greatly diminished," Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant said, according to The Associated Press.
“What we're doing now is saying, `We're standing against the federal government taking away our civil liberties,'" he said.
Bryant has asked Mississippi legislators to pass a law making it illegal to enforce any order by Obama that violates the Constitution.
There are similar bills under consideration in Tennessee, Wyoming, Utah, Alaska and Missouri.
The flurry of activity may indicate just how strong the opposition is to some of Obama’s proposals, and the challenge he faces in getting legislation passed.
But it’s unlikely the bills being filed by state officials will have a lasting or significant impact in gun restrictions or enforcement, say Constitutional law experts.
“The federal government cannot and is not telling state officials what they can and can’t do,” said Susan Low Bloch, a professor of Constitutional law at Georgetown University Law Center, in an interview with RIA Novosti.
“If it’s a federal ban it will be enforced by federal officers and any state laws that conflict would be pre-empted,” she said.
Bloch said state officials who believe a particular law is unconstitutional would typically challenge it in court.
“But they’re not able to set a sheriff at the state boundary and prevent federal agents from entering,” she said.
“There are ways for state officials to express their disagreement and you can say whatever you want, but in terms of arresting federal agents, that’s not the way this would be handled. It would end up in court and I believe the court would say, ‘sorry you can’t do that.’”