Paul Bonnifield: Not a popularity contest

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My first thought when I read Wednesday’s article about Sheriff Garrett Wiggins’ stance on enforcing Colorado’s new gun laws was that someone needs a reality check.

Consider what would happen if the following should occur:

1) There is a heinous murder.

2) The killer has a long record of gun-related violence. He often is unstable. He publicly has threatened the victim.

3) The murder weapon was purchased in Routt County.

4) The killer chose to purchase the gun in Routt County because he knew Sheriff Wiggins was not enforcing gun legislation.

The crime could be anywhere in the United States. The sheriff and the county soon would be involved in numerous civil and criminal cases. At the very least, it would destroy Wiggins’ professional career. Officers closely aligned with him also would have their careers destroyed. The county would have to pay thousands of dollars in legal expenses.

Sheriff Wiggins, it is the courts that interpret laws, administer punishment and rule on constitutionality. Sheriffs have some leeway in setting priorities, but refusing to enforce a law because you don’t agree with it is not a priority. All the arguments offered by Wiggins to justify his decision never would be allowed in a courtroom. Using the above example, the only question in the courtroom would be the extent of negligence of duty and the appropriate criminal or civil action to be taken.

Being a sheriff is not a popularity contest. A sheriff is to enforce the law and protect the people — even those laws he or she doesn’t agree with. When a law is hard to enforce, law officers must work harder. Sheriff Wiggins, how hard did you work to enforce unenforceable drug laws? If you want to write laws, get elected to the Legislature. If you want to interpret laws, become a judge.

Paul Bonnifield

Yampa

Comments

jerry carlton 1 year, 1 month ago

Paul Did you ever serve in the military or work in law enforcement?

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Eric J. Bowman 1 year ago

Not sure what that has to do with anything. No, I haven't, yet after expressing my opinions on this issue I came across this letter to his constituents from the Arapahoe County Sheriff:

http://extras.mnginteractive.com/live/media/site36/2013/0122/20130122_044227_SheriffRobinsonGunViolencePerspective.pdf

Huh. Exactly the same points I was making. Which must mean I formulate my opinions by listening to qualified experts, as opposed to Limbaugh or Hannity. How else do I come up with the same arguments, as a man with this resume?

http://www.calea.org/user-profile/mr-j-grayson-robinson

Being an informed voter means having educated opinions on many, many more subjects than any of our experience covers. Not that any opinion not based on personal experience must be invalid, otherwise how would democracy work?

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Joe Meglen 1 year, 1 month ago

Paul,

Sheriff Wiggins, along with the majority of Colorado Sheriffs, do enforce the law. The Constitution is the Supereme Rule of Law and the Constituion trumps unconsitutional state laws. Sheriff Wiggins took an oath to uphold the Constitution, which he is doing. We need to be thankful that we have a Sheriff that honors his oath and protects the freedoms documented in the Contitution.

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Eric J. Bowman 1 year ago

Absolutely not. The constitution the Sheriff took an oath to uphold, clearly lays out that it is the Judicial Branch which determines the constitutionality of laws. When a Sheriff declares he won't enforce the law because in his opinion it's unconstitutional, he is expressly violating his oath, in ignorance of the separation of powers at the core of our constitution.

http://extras.mnginteractive.com/live/media/site36/2013/0122/20130122_044227_SheriffRobinsonGunViolencePerspective.pdf http://www.co.arapahoe.co.us/departments/SH/index.asp http://www.calea.org/user-profile/mr-j-grayson-robinson

That's a Sheriff who does get it. I would be thankful if we had a Sheriff who followed his oath by keeping to his place as laid out by the constitution, and not letting his personal opinions cloud his professional judgment.

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Don Thayer 1 year ago

President Lincoln violated the U S Constitution when he freed the slaves.

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Chris Hadlock 1 year, 1 month ago

Jerry, what is the basis for your question on these articles? Why does it matter whether an individual has served in that capacity when it comes to discussing these issues? Are the opinions of those individuals somehow less important? Please clarify.

While I may or may not approve of the stance Sheriff Wiggins has taken, he certainly has not violated any oath IMHO. Elected Officials are political creatures and you can expect them to act and speak as such. Before accusing anyone of violating any oaths, perhaps we should hold off passing judgement until we can measure actual actions and policies instead of rhetoric. Discussion is a good thing, we should all practice listening more. Just because an individual advocates a belief different than your own does not make them radical or in violation of their oath of office.

Joe, will you accept these laws if they are found to be Consitutional by the Supreme Court? Do you accept existing firearm regulations, or are you advocating armed insurrection against our democratically elected Gov't.

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Joe Meglen 1 year ago

Chris, we have systemic corruption in all three branches of the federal government, four if you include the controlled media. This rot has infected most states as well with the erosion of state's rights the last 150 years. The Supreme Court is a political organization which routinely finds that unconstitutional laws are constitutional. Obamcare is a recent example. Sadly, our "democratically elected Gov't" is a criminal organization that operates nothing like we were taught in our political science cources.

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Joe Meglen 1 year ago

Chris, I accidently hit the send button before fully answering your question. Completing my prior response to you: It began to dawn on me that the government did not have my best interests at heart when I found myself drafted and shipped to Ft. Ord in 1969. Since that time my faith in the government's noble causes, and interest in doing the right thing, has not improved. So, if the Supreme Court found that unconstitutional state gun control laws were constitutional, then no I would not accept this corrupt decision. To do so would be a breach of principle and a betrayal of my unalienable rights.

The original intent of our limited constitutional government was to protect individual freedom. How far we have degenerated from that position. Now, the purpose of government is to allow those that control it to plunder those that don't.

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Brian Kotowski 1 year, 1 month ago

Sheriff Wiggins is an elected official. Time for the outraged to put their money where their outrage is and launch a recall.

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Don Thayer 1 year ago

President Obama ordered the INS to stop deporting young illegal immigrants who entered the United States as children if they meet certain requirements. Let's recall him.

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Eric J. Bowman 1 year ago

Why? The next election will suffice. I think I know what question will be foremost at the candidate's forum... Although the Sheriff could wise up and walk back his remarks, most likely I've already made my mind up not to vote for him again, due to his politicization of his office.

The last thing I want in a Sheriff, is one who politicizes his office, as it makes citizens on the other side of the political divide feel he's there to protect and serve his ideological fellow travelers at the expense of all others. This diminishes respect for the Sheriff's department in the community, which is detrimental to the department's ability to function effectively.

While a segment of the population will support such a Sheriff, the rest will feel alienated, creating a rift in the community. The result is less effective law enforcement (due to less cooperation), to the detriment of even his supporters. This is why, to me, the absolute worst thing any Sheriff can do for any community, is politicize his office.

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Don Thayer 1 year ago

President Obama politicized the Connecticut shooting in order to encourage Congress and the American people to violate the U S Constitution.

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Eric J. Bowman 1 year ago

Well, we expect Presidents to politicize their offices. And congresscritters, state representatives, city council... but not Sheriffs. They must put their biases aside and serve the entire community, or law enforcement breaks down when the 2/3 of the community who aren't in the Sheriff's political party lose respect for the office and the department.

So all these "Obama does it too" arguments are strawmen, and you're preaching to the choir since I think he ought to be impeached, anyway. So stop changing the subject -- this is about how a Sheriff politicizing his office has a detrimental effect on public safety, and is strictly a local issue.

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Don Thayer 1 year ago

The next election will also suffice for Sheriff Wiggins. Or do you want to recall him while leaving Obama in office?

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Joe Meglen 1 year ago

Eric,

You mistake integrity and courage for politicization.

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Scott Wedel 1 year ago

I think Diane Mitsch Bush had a wonderful week. Got popular commonsense gun regulations passed. Got extremists to make such overreaching statements that even Rob Douglas in the local paper criticizes Sheriff Wiggins.

Besides being something she believes in, she improved her political position. About as good as it gets for an elected official.

The person that had a bad week was Sheriff Wiggins. He made controversial statements that are out of touch with the county's electorate, but he cannot retract them without alienating his base. He just created a powerful campaign issue that he will have to overcome if he is to be reelected as sheriff.

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jerry carlton 1 year ago

Chris Did you ever serve in the military or work in law enforcement? I have done both. I am merely looking for a left wing, hand wringing liberal who has done either. There must be some out there but I have yet to hear from one.

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Eric J. Bowman 1 year ago

Pat Tillman. Big fan of Noam Chomsky. Thought Iraq was as naked a war crime as they get...

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Scott Wedel 1 year ago

Jerry,

At the voting booth, your ill-informed vote counts the same as my ill-informed vote

in a democracy, a person's resume and experiences don't mean much unless the person can communicate what their experiences has taught them. If you want to share your insights as it relates to these issues from your experiences in the military and law enforcement then please do so. Maybe that will alter some people's mind. I doubt anyone will disagree with "lefties" just because you served in the military and law enforcement.

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Chris Hadlock 1 year ago

Jerry,

Don't believe that I have expressed a solid opinion anywhere to be automatically labeled a "hand wringing liberal" I have asked some pointed questions and have discussed some of my thinking about ancillary issues but not much more. Quote me and prove me wrong......

My question remains unanswered. What is it about serving in military or Law enforcement that makes your opinion more valuable than those individuals that have chosen other careers?

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Kevin Nerney 1 year ago

Chris, not that I would ever speak for someone else, but what I think Jerry is requesting is "How can someone who has lived through various events in real life still be a lefty liberal". I have law enforcement in my background and my Dad and Son were and/or are Marines. When you get out of your perverbial cubicle and get down and dirty out in the street and see things first hand, unfiltered you can learn a lot about human nature and also how the "system" works. I can't tell you how many incidents I was involved in on the streets of NY that ended up in the paper or on the news. When I read the articles I had to double check the location time and date in order to be sure they were talking about the same case. Remember there are three sides to every story. My side, your side and the truth. Isn't there an old saying about why did the liberal democrat become a republican? he was mugged!

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Eric J. Bowman 1 year ago

"Sheriffs have some leeway in setting priorities, but refusing to enforce a law because you don’t agree with it is not a priority."

Exactly.

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Don Thayer 1 year ago

Is Sheriff Wiggins simply reassuring the people that he isn't coming for their guns? Is he simply replying to emails and phone calls he's gotten? Does your quote apply to President Obama and Senate Democrats?

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Eric J. Bowman 1 year ago

Why should he have to do that, when nothing in the legislation requires him to take such action? What does this have to do with national politics? Why would a Sheriff want to lose more votes through politicizing his office, than explain to constituents that "he is required by statute to keep and preserve the peace, serve and execute all processes, writs, precepts and orders issued or made by lawful authorities"?

My point is, a Sheriff stands to lose more votes by misunderstanding his job description, than he stands to gain by pandering to those who literally request that he state that it would be unconstitutional for him to do his job.

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PJ Howe 1 year ago

Sherriff Wiggins should enforce the law, all laws, no matter how impractical they are to enforce. To adequately enforce these laws, the Sherriff must first know what guns (and clips) exist in the county, what type they are, and who owns them. How are these new gun laws to be enforced? Door to door inspections? Should these be warranted or not-warranted as unwarranted inspections are much easier and more efficient? How about a neighbor tip line so you can turn in those dirty gun owners who pass their rifle down to their kids? Yes, Sherriff, enforce the laws. Let's start by enforcing the speed limit. 1 mph over is a violation of the laws enacted by legislature and should be enforced. These tickets can easily be avoided by always driving 5-10 mph under the posted limit. I can only image the uproar when Paul, Sherry and others that are in a tizzy about Sherriff Wiggins's comments when they start receiving these tickets and they are then fully enforced by the county judge, which, by law, he must.

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jerry carlton 1 year ago

Chris Where in my post did I say my opinion was worth more than anbody elses? Putting words in my mouth?

Kevin You said exactly what I would have said but much better than I could have. I am rather a poor typer and not very eloquent.

Eric I am sure Pat Tillman would be happy having you speak for him. Who is Noam Chomsky?

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Eric J. Bowman 1 year ago

I'm not speaking for him, merely stating what he had said in public, what his brother has said about him in public, and Google's your friend as far as Chomsky.

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jerry carlton 1 year ago

Looks like Chomsky's main claim to fame is selling T-shirts. I am impressed.

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Scott Glynn 1 year ago

Did he say "won't". I suppose he did. But I think the bigger issue is can he. The existing magazines owned by private citizens are grandfathered as legal. The new ones do not have a "sell by" date to determine if they were previously purchased or not. What do you want the guy to do? I would be willing to bet if he had a probable cause to enter a store that sold ammunition and there were illegal magazines in inventory, he would enforce the law. He just can't do that to Johnny Citizen.

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