Powell County Sheriff Scott F. Howard has promised to refuse to enforce any “unconstitutional” federal gun regulations, joining at least four other Montana sheriffs in expressing such resistance.
In a letter dated Jan. 21 to Vice President Joe Biden, Howard also says he won’t permit “the enforcement of any unconstitutional regulations by federal offices within the borders of Powell County.”
Howard joins the sheriffs of Lake, Ravalli, Sanders and Wibaux counties, along with several across the nation, in resisting potential new regulations in the wake of the shooting of more than 20 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in December.
“In the wake of recent criminal events, politicians are attempting to exploit the deaths of innocent victims by advocating for laws that would prevent honest, law-abiding Americans from possessing certain firearms and ammunition magazines,” he wrote. “We are Americans. 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 new laws.”
Howard was not immediately available for comment Thursday afternoon.
A letter emailed to Montana sheriffs and posted online from the chairmen of the Montana House and Senate judiciary committees, Rep. Krayton Kerns, R-Laurel, and Sen. Terry Murphy, R-Cardwell, urges Montana sheriffs to refuse to enforce any new federal gun laws or regulations and refuse to permit any enforcement by others of federal gun laws.
The letter also is signed by sheriffs Tom Rummel of Sanders County and Darby Harrington of Wibaux County; Gary Marbut, president of the Montana Shooting Sports Association; and Jay Printz, former sheriff of Ravalli County and member of the board of directors of the National Rifle Association; and a plaintiff in the federal lawsuit that rendered unconstitutional parts of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, or the Brady Bill.
Ravalli County Sheriff Chris Hoffman and Lake County Sheriff Jay Doyle say they would not participate if the federal government ordered the confiscation of certain guns.
Marbut has promoted a bill to prohibit state enforcement of new gun or ammunition laws statewide. It’s being carried by Kerns.
Marbut said Thursday he got the idea when he was in New York, waiting to appear on the “Glenn Beck Program,” and talking with former Judge Anthony Napolitano about the “Sheriff’s First” legislation Marbut has championed several times. That bill would prohibit certain federal law enforcement actions without the local sheriff’s approval.
“Napolitano said you don’t have to do that, just don’t help enforce the laws,” Marbut said.
Marbut said about 60 sheriffs nationwide have publicly indicated they would not enforce new federal gun laws.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.