EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

December 22, 2013

Column: Law enforcement officials must enforce laws

Since when do county sheriffs get to decide which state laws they will enforce? Furthermore, when did they become the arbiters of what is or isn’t constitutional?

Ask the citizens of Colorado (I used to be one) who are now confronted by rebellious elected “law” officers who say they aren’t going to enforce a package of new gun controls that makes their state one of the saner and possibly safer venues in the nation. They consider the new statutes vague and a violation of the Second Amendment rights of gun owners. In fact, all but seven of the state’s 62 sheriffs signed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the new statues.

The last time anyone looked, these law enforcement paragons -- whose main duties include serving subpoenas, warrants and running the jails where inmates are housed because, among other things, they used a firearm in the commission of a crime -- had no say about the constitutionality of a law. That responsibility in every place I know of in this land belongs to the courts.

So who’s in charge in Colorado? Apparently it’s not the legislature or the governor or the judiciary; it’s the county Mounties. If they are allowed to get away with this, these badge-wearing, gun-toting successors to the Earps and the Hickoks, like their predecessors, are pretty much a law unto themselves. By the way, Wyatt Earp and Bill Hickok took it on themselves to ban the carrying and brandishing of firearms in certain areas of their jurisdictions despite the Second Amendment.

Few states have more reason than Colorado to try to keep guns out of the hands of crazies and to ban the use of such things as 30-bullet magazines. The state has been the site of two of the highest profile massacres in the history of such tragedies: the mass slaying first at Columbine High School and then the more recent fusillade of death and destruction launched in an Aurora theater filled with Batman fans.

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