In western Nevada County, seeing dyed-in-the-wool rural conservatives mingling with dread-locked medical marijuana advocates at a Friday night social event is a rather infrequent sight.
Sheriff Richard Mack, who gave an impassioned speech at the Grass Valley Veterans Memorial Building during a Friday night event, brought these seemingly disparate factions of the community together.
What the two groups share with each other and have in common with Mack is a vigorous distaste for the intrusion of the federal government into local affairs.
“Folks, we can stop Obamacare; we can stop the IRS; we can stop the abuses of the federal government county by county, state by state,” Mack said toward the end of his approximately one-and-a-half-hour talk.
Mack’s main message is that the United States constitution created a federal system of government that willfully divided power between a centralized federal government and the states that comprise the union.
Thus, when the federal government is guilty of overreach — whether by legislating against the Second Amendment in the form of gun control laws or attempting to impinge on a state’s right to legalize marijuana for medical purposes — state officials, from the governor on down to the popularly elected sheriff, have a duty to disobey federal mandates and uphold their oaths to the constitution, Mack said.
“We have to get the government back where it belongs,” Mack said. “We can do that county by county, state by state, but it takes local officials who keep their word, who keep their oath.”
Mack provided an example of Sheriff Brad Rogers of Elkhart County, Indiana, who threatened to arrest Federal Department of Agriculture workers for trespassing on one of his constituent’s property if they continued to conduct surprise inspections without a warrant.
Mack himself won one of the most prominent states’ rights cases in U.S. history when he sued the federal government after the Brady Bill was signed in 1993.
The case, which went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, was decided in favor of Mack and other sheriffs who refused to comply with some provisions of the law, despite being threatened with arrest if they flouted those provisions.
“State officials, and sheriffs are one of them, are duty bound to interpose its power to prevent the federal government from victimizing its people,” Mack said.
Mack said sheriffs should do more to uphold the Second Amendment and prevent their constituents from having their firearms confiscated.
“If anybody asks you why you have an assault rifle, you should say, ‘It’s none of your business,’” he said.
“We choose what kind of gun to have and own.”
Several of the audience members adorned in the distinctive red Tea Party Patriots’ shirts erupted into effusive applause repeatedly throughout the talk.
But Mack also appeased the medical marijuana advocates in the crowd.
“I don’t know why I risked my life to have people not smoke marijuana,” Mack said, referring to an undercover sting operation in which he participated early in his career.
“Anybody can see the benefits of smoking marijuana instead of drinking yourself to death.”
Mack characterized alcohol drinkers as often angry with a propensity toward violence, whereas pot smokers are typically “mellow and cool.”
“I realized I was dedicating my life and my career to a farce,” he said. “You will never arrest away the drug problem.”
To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4239.