KALISPELL, Mont. - Sanders County Sheriff Tom Rummel and Ravalli County Sheriff Chris Hoffman have announced that they won't be enforcing any gun control regulations they deem to be unconstitutional.
In an interview with NBC Montana, Hoffman said that he and his deputies will not participate in the confiscation of weapons or the enforcement of laws that he believes goes against the constitution.
"The local law enforcement is prohibited from enforcing federal law in any case. We will not participate in confiscation of weapons or limiting people's rights outside of the constitution," said Ravalli County Sheriff Chris Hoffman.
Tom Rummell also spoke with NBC Montana, saying that he believes that a potential assault weapons ban would be unconstitutional, and that he won't allow his deputies to enforce regulations enacted by congress or executive orders that would circumvent "the constitutional rights of the citizens of Sanders County."
"Myself and the rest of the sheriffs in the United States that have taken a stand against this…are standing up for our citizens," said Sanders County Sheriff Tom Rummel.
Rummell is one of a group of lawmakers, and law officers, current and past, who are pushing sheriffs around Montana to take similar stances, encouraging them to go a step further if they wish and "not permit federal officers to enforce any new federal gun control against citizens in their counties."
That group includes Sanders County Sheriff Tom Rummel, Wibaux County Sheriff Darby Harrington, former Ravalli County Sheriff and NRA Board of Directors member Jay Printz, Senator Terry Murphy, Representative Krayton Kerns and Montana Shooting Sports Association President Gary Marbut.
The group's letter to sheriffs around Montana can be found here.
The following is the text of Rummel's letter:
January 22, 2013
Ladies and Gentlemen of Sanders County
By now you are all well aware of the grievous criminal event that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary. I am sure you are also aware of the proposed gun control rules and regulations the President is considering in the wake of this tragedy.
The intent of this letter is to clear up any doubts you, the law abiding citizens, may have on my stance on gun control and the Constitution. I have taken an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of United States and the state of Montana. Myself and my deputies take that responsibility very seriously. Our right to self defense is first and foremost God given. This right is then protected in both the United States and Montana State Constitutions.
My duty as Sheriff is to make sure you, the citizens, are protected from the criminal, whether that criminal come with a weapon, or a pen.
There is also a broader spectrum that needs to be considered. Once this line is crossed and the integrity of the Constitution has been compromised, where does this stop. Are our freedoms of speech, religion, press and assembly next to fall by the mere stroke of a pen.
I do believe history is replete with the consequences unarmed citizens have suffered at the hands of a despot. Heaven forbid that we as citizens of the greatest nation the world has ever known would suffer the same.
I, therefore want you to know that myself and my deputies will not enforce any federal regulations enacted by congress, or executive orders of the President circumventing the constitutional rights of the citizens of Sanders County. So help me God.
In your service,
Sanders County Sheriff
NBC Montana stopped by Sykes Diner in downtown Kalispell on Wednesday, to get people's reactions to the apparently growing movement.
"I support them 100 percent because they're doing what they were elected to do," said Kalispell resident Rick Delapp. "They took an oath to protect the constitution. They didn't take an oath to a president. They didn't take an oath to a republican or democratic party."
"I think that's great. I want people to protect the constitution…to protect our individual rights. We have the right to bear arms and that's very important and very essential," said Fortine resident Linda Curtis.
"They're wrong for not supporting [getting rid of assault rifles]," said Kalispell resident Becky West. "There are some people out there that are not thinking straight and they think ‘Oh, okay, let's just go in and shoot everybody.'"
NBC Montana also spoke with the Montana Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association Executive Director Jim Smith. He said that the association may decide on a unified position on calls for tighter gun control at an upcoming meeting.