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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: Friday, January 25, 2013
Article comment by: Amaryllis Smith

SOooo, you people out there who are criticizing our sheriff for wanting to protect the 2nd amendment of our constituion rather than go along with the GANG that wants to trample it think gun ban are good??
I suppose Congresswoman Dianne Fienstein's bill introduced today makes you HAPPY? Her bill will ban everything which WOULD make this current admin. Happy!!
If some of you out there want to drag Bonzelet into this discussion-at least learn how to spell his name! And I never see in the miner anyone criticizing the 55000000 babies killed since Roe vs Wade in 1974, Doesn't take a gun to do that-just selfish, self-gradifying cold hearted PEOPLE.
I suppose you are okay with disbanning Americans while congress is in the process of Giving Morsi in Egypt FOURTEEN F-14s! Those of you who are fine with disbanning Americans best watch what YOU WISH FOR!!

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: Ben There

It kinda makes me feel fuzzy in side , like he cares or something , or maybe he is trying to buy my vote...

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: Ponder This

I have one concern...."probably"???

Time to address the Constitution and ensure we have a Constitutional Sheriff.

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: anonymous anonymous

As a democrat, pro-2nd amendment who does not own a gun, anti-abortion but do not feel the need to see anyone arrested for it, leave that up to God on judgment day, he has his son Jesus to sort out the sinners and separate the goats from his sheep, same with death penalty harken back to Jesus and the adulteress, figure two folks have a opportune moment to ask for forgiveness, no chance to backslide, a terminally ill person and a condemned inmate, guess that will drive them self righteous compassionate conservatives insane they might end up somewhere a person they think they know their destinations have no say in it! I figures this whole issue will fizzle over time, its truly a Deja Vu moment, how many times does one have to see this knee jerk ban guns come up before both sides calm down and realize little is going to change!

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: American Patriot

@Doing Research
Read the story again, the guy was cussing the old man, not trying to help him.

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: George Bagube

I am amazed on how many people jump to conclusions regarding the Sheriff’s stance on the recent gun control debate. Sheriff Sheahan stated openly and clearly that he supports 2nd Amendment rights for Mohave County citizens. Just because politicians’ in Washington, D.C., may potentially decide to ban specific firearms, ammunition quantities, or large capacity magazine accessories by seeking to make it law one day in Congress, doesn’t mean that Sheriff is not within his right or power to question the constitutional aspect of future gun laws. Any law enforcement officer has complete “discretion” in everything they do under the law while enforcing it just like all other laws on the books, “they may or may not” enforce the authority to ticket you or even arrest you, but that is their discretion. By stating he “probably wouldn’t enforce it” if the Sheriff feels the law is unconstitutional, you should be thanking him for protecting you, not scorning him while he seeks to clarify if the new laws have merit while being challenged.

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: tony wise

great job sherriff. For those who are against owning a gun control please don't call anyone for help if someone breaks into your home with a gun. Just handle it yourself. Just ask the burglar to hand their gun over,,, yea right ha ha.

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: Sheriff is an embarrassment

Good to see the sheriff is like the state legislature and an embarrassment to its citizens. I would like to know why the sheriff is so concerned about and the Fast and Furious instead of solving the hundreds of unsolved sex crimes in this county. I guess he just fits in with this county full of cook shacks and gun totting nut jobs.

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: armando aldana

Sheriff Sheahan,thank you for your stand on nobama's ridiculous gun laws.we law abiding citizens should not be targeted by the white house and the misguided anti gunners if the gov. would just enforce existing laws.why wont they protect our border? gangs,criminals and the taliban are crossing the border 24/7!what will they do when we are disarmed?do you really want nobama to take your weapons?

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: az mac

The real question is will our sheriff stand up to the feds when they come for the guns.Feinstein introduced a bill today ( Thursday ) that would outlaw 158 different types of guns. If it passes it will be the first step to taking guns away.

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: Tj Denton

Is no one else paying attention to the fact that the ct shootings were comminted using two hand guns and not an assault rifle???? I feel like im screaming in a crowded room here!!!

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: Joe Schmo

Richard Carver:

Excellent point. The sheriff does not get to decide which laws he will and won't enforce, anymore than any of us get to decide what laws to obey. He knows this, he is just pontificating for the local gun nuts. If someone feels a law is unconstitutional then take the matter to court. Courts decide legal matters including the constitutionality of our laws its not up to you or me or our sheriff.

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: d l

"If I feel a law is unconstitutional, I probably wouldn't enforce it,"

While I can truly appreciate Sheahan's opinion (I also don't agree with the proposed laws) since when do cops decide which laws they're going to enforce? All I've ever heard cops say through the years is "I don't make the laws but I'm paid to enforce them."
When a cop starts picking and choosing what laws he's going to enforce, the citizens are in big trouble...

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: Former Kingmanite

"God Bless Tom Sheahan, If more American's were like him we wouldn't be having this problem in the first place" So you're thinking that if more Americans didn't abide by the laws of the land we'd all be better off? The comments by the sherriff are just further proof of the radical, narrow-minded, too afraid to think for one's self, citizens that Kingman is very well known for. The GOP is now a group that learns what to believe from the NRA, outrageously whacked-out radio and TV show hosts, and the trully frightening likes of Alex Jones.

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: Town Crier

Wow, what an absolute idiot! Another individual that doesn't really understand the 2nd amendment in which he references. You have to use your brain and some critical thinking in order to properly and accurately interpret the ACTUAL meaning of the 2nd amendment. It doesn't protect all gun ownership...idiots. Where did this sheriff learn to read?

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: Wise Up

To those whining... do some research other than the Huffington Post.

A law is not a law if it is unconstitutional...

Remember, Hitlers minion were just following the 'law' also. That didn't matter in the Nuremberg Trials.

The Sheriff is right on and he knows it.

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: The Fox Hound

I like an honest sheriff. At least he tells you up front he isn't going to do the job he was elected to do. Now if you he would just decide that we all have a right to grow whatever plants we wish we can despense with this stupid 40 year old drug war.

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: Hiram Fong


Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: Doing Research

Has no one noticed the irony of the article posted here today?

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

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: American Patriots

Good for Sheriff Sheehan, this is what American needs in this time of trouble when un American forces are trying to take over.
America might have a chance after all.

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: Much Thanks!!

Thanks Sherriff!! It's nice to know that there are still some leaders out there that are FOR the people!!

@ Excuse Me?

You answered your own question there. Uphold the Constitution of the United States

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: True American

Hats off to Sheriff Tom Sheehan, A True American Indeed! Thank you Tom from a Veteran of Foreign Wars!

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: Richard Carver

So if Tom feels a law is unconstitutional, he doesn't have to enforce it? I guess I don't feel like some of the laws Tom is enforcing now are constitutional, so do I have to obey them? Who gets to decide?

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: Del Ray

the gun ban is a knee-jerk reaction to a horrible crime due to a mad man. Tom see's through to smoke and mirrors and is correct to stand his ground.

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: A Viewer and a Reader

I just watched Sheriff Sherahan on our cable channel 57 with Earl Hamlyn a great show Sheriff Sheahan being in the paper and on TV really helps to give all of us a way to get his message. I would like to thank KDM and Earl at channel 57. for bring us this information. I read the paper everyday and watch channel 57 all the time I like all the local news we get from these folks. Earl Hamlyn does a great job for a local TV station.

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