Larry Pratt: County sheriffs can stop federal over-reach
Hundreds of supporters in Tulsa heard the president of Gun Owners of America explain how ordinary citizens can slow the federal government’s rush to more gun control.
Larry Pratt, president of Gun Owners of America, told a packed luncheon of the Tulsa County Men’s Republican Club that county sheriff’s across the nation are starting to stand up to federal officials not only in gun control but other areas where local leaders constitutionally are supposed to have the last word.
“We are in a real battle,” Pratt said of the drive for more gun control by President Obama and liberal members of Congress. “The enemies of freedom have an agenda. We have divorced our biblical understanding and replaced it with politics.”
Pratt said U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-South Dakota, and Sen. David Vitter, R-Louisiana, introduced their Respecting States’ Rights and Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, which would guarantee the rights of gun owners to carry concealed weapons across state lines in accordance with the laws of individual states. The bill balances the constitutional rights protected by the Second Amendment with the rights of each state to enforce its own laws regarding concealed firearms.
“Rather than establish a national standard, our bill will ensure that law-abiding citizens are able to carry concealed firearms while at the same time respecting the laws of the respective states they visit,” Thune wrote on his website. In 2009, a similar bill almost passed the Senate. U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn and U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, both Republicans, voted for the measure.
Thune’s bill does not establish national standards for concealed carry, and it does not provide for a national carry permit, nor does it allow individual gun owners to circumvent the laws of their home states. The bill is supported the National Rifle Association, Gun Owners of America, National Shooting Sports Foundation, Passenger-Cargo Security Group and Women Against Gun Control.
“We have let our employees tell us when we can have a gun,” Pratt told the GOP crowd. “We are seeing a growing awareness. We can’t win back America unless we spend some time on our knees.”
Part of that strategy is on a county level, he said.
Federal authorities have overstepped the boundaries of the 10th Amendment. Pratt said feds from the Environmental Protection Agency and others don’t have the jurisdiction they want everyone to believe they do have.
“Sheriffs all over the nation are telling feds from the EPA, if you don’t want to get arrested, stay out of my county,” Pratt said.
He gave an example of federal authorities wanted to shut down a dairy farmer for selling unprocessed milk. They wanted to confiscate the farmer’s equipment and livestock and stop his operation. The local county sheriff stepped in and the farm was spared.
“So far, in many cases, they have backed down,” Pratt said. “They are telling federal authorities, if you come in my county, come see me first. I will tell you if you can take action in my county.
“We need sheriffs who will stand in the breech.”
If a federal official is arrested, convicted and sentenced to more than 367 days, they lose their license to carry firearms, Pratt said. Five states are working on legislation to do that.
“The states and the sheriffs are not looking for trouble,” Pratt said. “They just want the feds to go read the U.S. Constitution.”
Because of the power of county sheriff, those elections may be more important than congressional seats, he said.
Pratt praised efforts by State Rep. Mike Ritze to invite a gun manufacturer to Oklahoma after Colorado passed a state law prohibiting what that company makes.
Pratt gave an award to Tulsa’s Joe Wanenmacher, the owner of the Tulsa Firearms Show (April 6 and 7) for his decades of service to firearms and safety.
Former City Councilor Bill Christiansen said he would not support any efforts toward gun control if he is elected mayor this year. He criticized Democrat Kathy Taylor for siding with New York Mayor Richard Bloomberg in advocating a ban on handguns.
In a straw poll at the luncheon, Christiansen got 80 percent of the votes over Taylor and Mayor Dewey Bartlett, who did not attend.
The Tulsa County Republican Men’s Club meets for lunch every Tuesday at the Hibachi Grill on Memorial Drive at 74th Street.