The Democrat-controlled Maryland state legislature is attempting to pass into law a number of gun control measures that would strictly limit and restrict the Second Amendment-protected gun rights of law-abiding citizens in the state, but at least one county sheriff will have none of that on his watch.
The Salisbury Daily Times reported that Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis was in the state capital of Annapolis on Monday to testify against several of the 19 different gun control-related bills that were up for consideration by lawmakers.
Though Lewis didn’t necessarily oppose all of the measures currently being reviewed, he felt compelled to speak out against certain bills that would “further encroach or infringe upon law-abiding citizens’ right to bear arms.”
His over-arching message — delivered via testimony before lawmakers and to supporters following his testimony — was that if such bills were passed into law, “We will not comply.”
Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis told a crowd in a House of Delegates overflow room that if a bill to regulate long guns is passed, he “will not comply.” https://t.co/iMydMkTTs2 pic.twitter.com/emW3WRWrgy
— Capital Gazette (@capgaznews) February 26, 2019
“We are going to let them know that we are sick and tired of being penalized for Baltimore City’s inability to control crime,” he told cheering gun rights supporters following his testimony. “We’ve got your back, and my closing arguments will be: If these bills pass, we will not comply.”
Lewis mostly took issue with a bill known as H.B. 786, which would impose a requirement of a state license to purchase or possess a long gun, such as a rifle or shotgun. State law already requires a permit to own or purchase a handgun.
While that bill doesn’t explicitly call for the confiscation of unlicensed long guns, it would impose a criminal penalty of up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine for violations of the licensing requirement.
Lewis also took issue with H.B. 612, which would add certain versions of the AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle to the state’s list of heavily regulated weaponry, a potential law that Lewis — who owns a number of AR-15 rifles himself — is worried could lead to confiscation of such weapons without compensation.
“There are bills that would truly make it a suicide mission for a sheriff deputy or a Maryland state trooper,” Lewis told the local media. “There are just so many reasons why this is unjust and unconstitutional.”
“Law-abiding citizens are repeatedly being penalized because of Baltimore City’s inability to control their crime,” he continued. “And I’m sorry — I’m not someone’s puppet. I’m going to stand up for what I think is unjust and unconstitutional to the American people, including those living in the state in Maryland.”
“If I don’t uphold the laws already established by our Founding Fathers, then we as a country are no better than any other country that enslaves and impoverishes their citizens for their own leaders’ power and personal gain,” the sheriff added.
Speaking to a reporter from the Capital Gazette, Lewis said of H.B. 786, “The way the bill is written, it is impossible to comply. I can’t send (my deputies) on a suicide mission.” This bill would also ban private sales in the state as well as impose license requirements on long guns.
Lewis noted that sending out his deputies to try to enforce such laws against otherwise law-abiding gun owners could lead to conflict and tragedy, as some of those gun owners could choose to fight back and defend their rights from infringement by the state.
The Gazette noted that this isn’t the first time that Lewis has spoken out strongly in defense of the Second Amendment, as he first made his staunch position on the rights of gun owners known in 2014 when he vowed in no uncertain terms — even warning of a potential “civil war” — to oppose and refuse to enforce any federal gun control laws imposed by the prior Obama administration that would infringe upon the Constitution.
Thank goodness there are law enforcement officials out there like Sheriff Lewis, who understand that their loyalty lies first with the U.S. and state constitutions, above any sort of legislation that would infringe upon the rights protected by those fundamental documents.
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