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1/24/2013 6:01:00 AM
New gun laws? Mohave sheriff will just say no
Mohave County Sheriff Tom Sheahan
Mohave County Sheriff Tom Sheahan
Doug McMurdo

Mohave County Sheriff Tom Sheahan has joined a growing list of rural sheriffs who say they will not enforce gun laws that might be enacted in the wake of the Dec. 14 mass shooting in Newtown, Conn.

"If I feel a law is unconstitutional, I probably wouldn't enforce it," said Sheahan on Wednesday.

Sheahan's stance is similar to that of other sheriffs and elected officials across the country, particularly in rural areas.

"The Second Amendment is a very hot topic these days," he said, alluding to President Barack Obama's recent request that Congress ban military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.

Obama also signed 23 measures designed to close loopholes in existing gun laws - actions that do not require congressional approval.

And while Sheahan does not believe the House of Representatives would pass a ban on so-called assault weapons or high-capacity clips, he agrees something must be done to keep these types of weapons out of the hands of the mentally ill.

"The big issue is the mental health question," he said. "We deal with these issues every day and it can be real tough in rural areas.

"There's no crystal ball to help us determine what someone will do in the future."

Sheahan also said rural Arizona is "completely different" from urban New York, where strict gun laws have been in place for years.

"Our situation is unique," he said, "This is a serious issue for Arizona and throughout the West."

And he is not insensitive to the massacre of 20 children and several educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School last month.

"Certainly that was a big tragedy," he said, "but since then there has been a lot of overreaction. It really gets me when I hear comments on gun crime. Guns don't commit crimes. People do and they do it with a gun or a knife."

Sheahan doesn't believe Congress will ban assault rifles like the AR-15, or high-capacity clips. "But if they did try another ban," he said, "I would never disarm a law-abiding citizen."

Nearly 19 years ago, Congress passed the Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 and President Bill Clinton signed it into law. The law banned the manufacture and selling of certain weapons, such as AK-47s, Uzis and Tech 9s.

People who already owned weapons subject to the ban were allowed to keep them.

The law was on the books until 2004, when sunset provisions allowed it to expire. While opponents at the time said the ban did nothing to curtail violent crime, law enforcement officials across the country did not want the law to expire.

While Sheahan is far from alone in his opinion, it is at odds with the National Sheriff's Association. Larry Amerson, sheriff of Calhoun County, Ala., told the website the organization does not support confiscating weapons from American citizens, but does support Obama's recent orders.

"Nothing in those 23 executive orders calls for the banning of a magazine or firearm," he told the website. "They did call for closing loopholes about mentally ill persons legally buying firearms. They called for closing loopholes to keep people for who it would be unlawful to purchase a handgun from doing so and it called for more law enforcement in protecting our schools."

Mohave County Chief Deputy County Attorney Jace Zack declined to speak in hypothetical terms - such as a currently nonexistent law that would compel law enforcement to confiscate weapons - but he did say anybody involved in law and order would be bound to enforce laws that courts have deemed constitutional.

He did suggest, however, the sheriff could place a low priority on enforcement of such a law if it came to pass.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, November 28, 2013
Article comment by: J Skye Smith

On behalf of every person who's been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, please allow me to provide all NORMALfolks with the TRUTH: painful as it might be for ME (& please try to GRASP that it IS painful to teach yourself "pattern matching" which was NOT INHERENT to my nature in order to survive an horribly violent, drunken man sent home from the front lines in Korea with what was called "shell shock" & was renamed in the 1980s as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He beat ANY woman who was in convenient range, so I had to TEACH myself from the age of 3 or 4 yrs old to know what facial expressions & vocal tones matched certain "moods", how his footsteps would sound when he'd been drinking vs sober. I even had to know what MUSIC he'd put on the HiFi. I was NONVERBAL but read & wrote far in advance of my age & was considered a musical Savant. I was about to be labeled RETARDED until IQ tests were given.

Asperger's was not fully "known" until the 1980s. I've Empathy that goes beyond the level MANY "normal humans" & wish I could make it go AWAY: no csn do. I'm NOT Mentally Ill. Am I LD? Not really: feel more SOCIALLY crippled. I've never applied for SSI: I WORKED at gigs most people only dream of doing and no one KNEW I had AS til I came to AZ & TOLD people. BAD IDEA. NEVER AGAIN..

Posted: Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Article comment by: pl ..... do realise that this is the same Congress which has passed major legislation in recent years without even reading it (and never mind those generation-devouring wars-based-upon-packs-of-lies). Drone on, if you please, about why we shouldn't follow not only our conscience but the intent of the nation's Founding Fathers, who understood tyranny. And I'm still waiting for responsible authorities to reform the criminal justice system - characterised by former New York DEA Chief Michael Levine as being implemented by "legions of belly-crawlers in government employ" (his immediate context and other writings can be more fully stated in a future posting). Just because they have a title or a badge does not make black white or white black.

Posted: Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Article comment by: Jeff Stoneberger

@Get Real...

Mr Jeff?? I did post my last name, wouldn't it be Mr Stoneberger?

You said.."federal laws are passed by the majority of 535 responsible"

I don't care if all 535 voted the same way. Until the 2nd Amendment is repealed, any gun grabbing law is unconstitutional. Just because some freedom haters passes a law, doesn't mean its Constitutional.

Posted: Monday, January 28, 2013
Article comment by: Anason's Nephew

“Just because it becomes law by a political arm, doesn’t mean it’s legal, moral, justified, or correct.”

Uhh, yes it does until it is rescinded. What part of a representative government do you not understand? Example – stupid dress codes at BOS meetings in Mohave County. The shuruff is charged with enforcing all laws, not just those he “feels” are right.

“Wow, how witty, in a sophomoric way.”

Now THERE is the pot calling the kettle black!

Posted: Monday, January 28, 2013
Article comment by: We Must Allow The American System to Work

KSS. isn't that what the courts are for not every little sheriff with a 6 shooter?

Posted: Monday, January 28, 2013
Article comment by: Think About It

No Jimi, we just believe in building a society where there is mutual respect, where laws are enacted and enforced in a fair and just way, and there is a system of safety other that may the best shot win.

You use the slippery slope argument. Have you thought about what's next after everyone has an assault weapon?

Posted: Monday, January 28, 2013
Article comment by: Get Real

First of all Mr Jeff, federal laws are passed by the majority of 535 responsible representatives so your statement is beyond absurd. The Sheriff is charged with upholding laws, period.

Posted: Monday, January 28, 2013
Article comment by: Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

Yes, (un)Common Sense, Obama has done plenty about "that". Research the facts when you make such a statement. Deportations of illegals are up significantly under Obama. You would have been factual if you had written little was done by Bush or others until Obama.

Posted: Monday, January 28, 2013
Article comment by: Frank Harris

Some have claimed the '94 Assault Weapons Law did nothing. They don't cite any figures. They don't even research that statement for facts. Many just don't care about facts. They say it didn't work and that's that. Well after some time I've researched the FACTS which show otherwise:

• In a Department of Justice study, Jeffrey Roth and Christopher Koper find the '94 Assault Weapons Ban was responsible 6.7 percent fewer gun murders. It also says the use of assault weapons in crime declined by more than 2/3 after the ban expired
• In a Washington Post story, reporters David Fallis, James Grimaldi - the percentage of firearms seized by police in Virginia with high-capacity magazines dropped significantly during the Assault Weapons Ban. The figure has doubled since the ban expired.
• In a American Journal of Public Health Douglas Weil and Rebecca Knox write when Maryland imposed a more stringent ban on assault pistols and high-capacity magazines in 1994, it led to a 55% drop in assault pistols recovered by Baltimore Police
• Police Executive Research Forum, "Guns and Crime: Breaking New Ground by Focusing on the Local Impact," (May 2010) - 37% of police departments reported a noticeable increase in criminals’ use of assault weapons since the ban expired.

To all fair minded, intelligent Kingmanites looks at the facts - GUN CONTROL DOES WORK. No one is saying take the guns away. The proposed law targets assault weapons and high capacity clips. Rifles, shot guns, hand guns are part of our society and and will always be. Please work to eliminate the manufacture, importation and possession of assault weapons and high capacity clips. Contact congress. Thank you.

Posted: Sunday, January 27, 2013
Article comment by: Frank Lee Speaking

@Ansons Nephew

Here is the oath of office for AZ.

It clearly mentions that he will support the Constitution of the U.S. The 2nd Amendment is part of it. Read the 2nd Amendment again, especially the "shall not be infringed part.

Any law infringing on that right is clearly un-Constitutional and therefore garbage. And just because Obama and his sock puppets pass a law, that does not mean it is Constitutional. The courts will decide. But even a stacked court is not the final word, the people are

Meanwhile, many MANY sheriffs around the country are saying the same thing Sheahan is. And the feds will never have the guts to arrest a single one of them. It would be fun to see them try though.

Posted: Sunday, January 27, 2013
Article comment by: tj denton

outta here.

if you knew anything about firearms you would know that handguns fire slower ammunition, which creates more damage. also, the ar15 was found in his vehicle. liberals are just trying to exploit this shooting to further gun control and know that most people, like you will believe any spin cnn or msn has to throw out there. nice try though...really...nice try

Posted: Sunday, January 27, 2013
Article comment by: Freedom Lover

Anson's Nephew states:
"So now you are actually condoning a law enforcement officer using his “feelings” to determine which laws he will or will not enforce? Wow!"

Awww, isn't it cute how the left gets all huffy when a Constitutional savvy law enforcement agent states they will not enforce an UN-Constitutional law/executive order?
Yet Obama refused to enforce immigration laws, but the leftist hypocrites remain silent about that.

Posted: Sunday, January 27, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

“Average salary of a Civilian Government worker 129,000.00.”

This number is as incorrect today as it was when first trotted out in 2009. The average pay for government workers is roughly $82,000 – which is higher than the average for private sector workers (thanks to employers consistently screwing employees for years).

However, it must also be pointed out that federal civilian workers are more educated, there is a higher percentage of white-collar jobs in the federal government, federal workers receive better pension and health insurance than do private sector employees who have neither and many lower skilled jobs have benn contracted out by the federal government.

Posted: Sunday, January 27, 2013
Article comment by: tj denton

""– Don’t lie abortion, don’t have one. In all other cases mind you own business.""

lets use ansons liberal logic here.

dont like drug use, dont do drugs, in all other cases, mind your own business.

dont like suicide, dont kill yourself, in all other cases, mind your own business.

it makes so much sense its unreal!! we pro lifers advocate for the innocent life that is being taken in an abortion. someday, people who advocate abortion will have to answer to someone why they supported taking an innocent, helpless life. i just hope they have a good answer

Posted: Sunday, January 27, 2013
Article comment by: Freedom Lover

Anson's Nephew writes:

"Don’t lie abortion, don’t have one."

Leave it to you Mr. Nephew to write absolute nonsense.

Posted: Sunday, January 27, 2013
Article comment by: steve walker

Our sherrifs comments sounded PC. Too
Moderate for me to feel comfortable with. Mr Sheehan if you are listening
Please note that the politics were solved
more than 200 yrs ago with the ratification of the 2nd amendment and
Always remember as we fellows patriots do. This is an inaliable right and shall not be infringed upon. We cannot and will not move to the center. The mental health issue has been unlawfully passed over to the doctors. Before you know it we will all be branded insane for "clinging" to our bill of rights. How many more usurpations will YOU tolerate???
An armed society is a polite society...

Posted: Sunday, January 27, 2013
Article comment by: Banjos Playing

The sheriff is an ELECTED official. It sickens me he would make these types of statements not having any concern for the affect on HIS DEPUTIES that would actually be enforcing laws and having to deal with people treating them as agents of the government. He is a selfish, egotistical and arrogant man.

Posted: Sunday, January 27, 2013
Article comment by: V Stokes

You people are so funny. All a bunch of constitutional lawyers...but most can't even comprehend what the Sheriff is saying.

IMO it's pretty obvious that he means he will not go to people homes and confiscate weapons or magazines (they are magazines...not clips...please stop saying clips) that were legal at the time they were purchased. He is NOT saying that he would NOT enforce laws against sale of certain rifles or magazines which were made illegal by some new law, even if he did not support the law.

Prohibiting certain types of weapons and/or high capacity magazines has already been shown to be Constitutional. Just look at past laws that have since expired or current laws in CA and other states. Do you think there have not been challenges to them? Do you not think there would be immediate challenges to any new law which would put it in limbo and un-enforceable until it had gone through the courts? Notice I say law, as in "enacted by a vote in Congress". EO's are more like grounding your kid...he can obey or not...IMO. EO's may or may not be legal and constitutional, but they would be challenged just as quickly.

Personally I don't own either an AR/AK type rifle or any magazines over 10 rounds (except for my .22), never really saw the need for my uses (10 rounds and 2 extra magazines would be plenty) but I would not want laws against them.

They are not the problem. The problem is people having access who should never even touch a weapon, let alone shoot or own one. Solve that issue first.

Posted: Sunday, January 27, 2013
Article comment by: Jimi Lightfoot

“Sheriff do your job” has the typical liberal take on human rights. He expects the Sheriff to enforce any subversion of the Constitution that corrupt political powers put into law. Just because it becomes law by a political arm, doesn’t mean it’s legal, moral, justified, or correct. Gun grabbers don’t understand that one day it’s guns, the next day it’s speech. Usually both are chipped away simultaneously as we are seeing with federally enforced laws on “hate speech” and “terrorist threats.” Today it’s gun owners, one day it could be liberals depending on who’s in power.

Posted: Sunday, January 27, 2013
Article comment by: Frank Lee Speaking

@Doing Research

"Who was this guy protecting himself from by killing an unarmed person trying to help him?"

A great example of commenting on a story you did not actually bother to read.

I thought about pointing out your huge error to you.....but you seriously need practice at "doing research" so find it yourself.


Posted: Sunday, January 27, 2013
Article comment by: Frank Lee Speaking

@Sheriff, Do Your Job

"Where in the Constitution does it specifically say that citizens cannot run red lights? If I happen to feel that traffic laws are unconstitutional, does that mean I don't have to obey them?"

Wow, how witty, in a sophomoric way. Now here's the problem with your reasoning. Driving has long been established as a priveledge, not a right. However, the right to keep and bear arm IS in the constitution. Try actually reading the 2nd Amendment, and pay special attention to the words "shall not be infringed".

Posted: Sunday, January 27, 2013
Article comment by: Old School Kingmanite

From a third generation Arizonan--thank you Sheriff Sheahan! The country more than ever needs more men like you.

Posted: Saturday, January 26, 2013
Article comment by: USMC 8541

Ohh and just a thought for you that say" Sheriff do your Job" as he swore to .. NEWS FLASH He just said he would and uphold the Constitution of both the US and Arizona as well as Arizona Laws.
Never swore to uphold a Illegal order that is contrary to the Constitution, now did he ??

Lets just enforce the laws we have and stop playing with those that commit mass murders, for instance The Norway Massacre (Guns Banned in Norway By the Way) killed 69 did they mess around with trial ? No they didnt charge him with 69 counts of murder they charged him with what he did a act of Terrorism pure and simple, convicted end of story.

Posted: Saturday, January 26, 2013
Article comment by: Kudos Sheriff Shehan

How stupid some people are! Tom is stating that he doesn't have to enforce something put in place by a Presidential Executive Order. He is the highest law enforcer in the land!!. If Congress passed it as law, he would be obligated to enforce it. Although it is his duty to enforce Arizona laws over Federal, if they are not constitutional, ie, executive orders. I think Obama has gone beyond his executive responsibilities and has become a one manned government. He is acting more like a dictator than a president of a 3 branch government.

Posted: Saturday, January 26, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

Ms Athens

“Good going Sheriff.”

So now you are actually condoning a law enforcement officer using his “feelings” to determine which laws he will or will not enforce? Wow!

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