The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Editorials

December 29, 2013

Sheriffs ignoring gun laws are following Obama's example

(Continued)

In their view, the law, as written, doesn’t really matter anymore if they perceive it as inconvenient, immoral, too nationalistic or anything else they find personally objectionable. The law is no longer what it says but what they want it to say, or what they decide to enforce.

I think the whole problem for the sheriffs is a failure of marketing. They need to take a page from the advocates of illegal immigration. They should simply describe the areas where they will not be enforcing certain gun laws as “Sanctuary Cities.”

How American is the concept of sanctuary? I mean, it says it right there on the Statue of Liberty: "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore." And, of course, what it meant to include was, "and don’t worry about abiding by our immigration laws.”

The sheriffs need to make sure that they conflate legal and illegal gun ownership. They should contend, ceaselessly, that anybody who opposes illegal gun ownership is opposed to gun ownership in general. Because that is the mantra on immigration: Anybody who opposes illegal immigration is “anti-immigrant.”

That means the sheriffs need to scrub troublesome words like “law” and “illegal” out of any discussions of the issue so they don’t muddy the narrative.

Anybody packing heat illegally will simply be described as “lacking proper documentation” for the right to carry his or her weapon. Why should the absence of a few slips of paper matter?

If the sheriffs get any grief from the public or other government officials, they should follow the example of our elected leaders. They should say there is a need for “comprehensive firearm reform” that will provide a “pathway to gun ownership." Everybody who is breaking the law every day in the meantime gets a pass because Congress can’t get its act together, which is to say that Congress hasn’t passed the kind of legislation the sheriffs want.

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