Huffpost Denver

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Jason Salzman Headshot

"Sheriffs, Put on Your Badges and Arrest the Feds!"

Posted: Updated:
Getty Images
Getty Images

Larry Pratt, Executive Director of Gun Owners of America, spoke in Durango this week in support of efforts to recall State Rep. Mike McLachlan, who sinned by supporting gun-safety legislation, like requiring a criminal background check prior to gun purchases.

Prior to his visit to Colorado, Pratt told Greeley talk show host Scooter McGee that not only should folks like McLachlan vote against such awful things as background checks, but county sheriffs should arrest any federal official who tries to enforce gun safety laws, or any federal law, for that matter, that violates the U.S. Constitution, in the view of a sheriff.

Pratt praised Weld County Sheriff John Cooke, who said he won't enforce Colorado's new gun safety laws, for taking a "very strong stand on what he thinks the limits of the federal government are."

And Pratt cited about 400 sheriffs around the country who ready to ignore state and federal laws.

"At a minimum," Pratt told McGee, "[the 400 sheriffs] are saying they're not going to cooperate with any unconstitutional gun grabs that the federal government might participate in. And at the other end of the spectrum, sheriffs are saying, 'Not only will I not cooperate, but if the Feds are doing something unconstitutional in my county, particularly a gun grab, I'll put them in jail.'

Pratt continued: "But they're also addressing other issues where the Feds act unconstitutionally and threaten to incarcerate citizens of their county, the sheriffs are interposing themselves and saying, 'If you try to do that, you don't have authority, and you're not going to do that in my county, and if you try it, I will arrest you.' This has happened in confrontations with the Forest Service, BLM, the Food and Drug Administration, and of course, the ATF -- the gun police."

It wasn't clear if Pratt thought Cooke would actually arrest federal officials, if necessary to enforce their views of the U.S. Constitution, so I called Cooke to find out. Cooke did not return my call immediately.

In his radio interview, Pratt went on to point to a specific example of a situation, in addition to stopping alleged gun grabs, when sheriffs need to exert their power and arrest the feds -- when the Department of Education sends in a SWAT team to collect student loans.

PRATT: "There was a case last year, a young woman looked outside and realized that her residence was completely surrounded by the Men in Black. And when all the commotion finally subsided, it turned out that that was the Department of Education SWAT team, and they were coming for her because she was delinquent on her education [loans]. [...] So, off we go and the Department of Education is now using a SWAT team to collect delinquent student loans. Frankly, that's where we need sheriffs. The sheriff needs to come in and say [Editor's Note: He affects a 'good ol' boy, southern accent], 'Boy, I don't think you ought to be doing that.' And make sure that the boys understand that the sheriff is serious as a heart attack, that he is just talking smooth, and that he is not going to let them do that.

You wonder how any group that's trying to recall an elected official would want Pratt as their poster child, drumming up support for their cause.

Are they trying to appeal to the three people who fear that workers from Department of Education are the Men in Black outside the window?