Raines: Sheriffs critical to state rights
“The county sheriff as the last line of defense against an overreaching federal government”
“An effective way to protect that sovereignty, he said, is the Second Amendment.
You can’t do that if you’re disarmed by a government that should be protecting your rights — not taking them away,” said Mack, who is the author of “The County Sheriff: America’s Last Hope.”
Raines: Sheriffs critical to state rights
Officer says right to bear arms in jeopardy
CHARLOTTE — Eaton County Sheriff Mike Raines is part of a burgeoning nationwide movement that sees the county sheriff as the last line of defense against an overreaching federal government.
The sheriff has the power to stand in the way and can help restore the U.S. Constitution as the “supreme law of the land,” supporters of the movement say. At least 160 sheriffs from around the country are believed to be supporters.
Raines said it would be his duty to turn away a federal agent from the county — including an Internal Revenue Service auditor — if the agency was “overstepping (its) bounds.”
“A lot of people think they’re losing their rights,” Raines said in a recent interview. “If we can get back those rights, one county at a time, it would be better for all the people in the U.S.”
Raines was among nearly 100 sheriffs from across the country who earlier this year attended the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association’s first-ever convention in Las Vegas.
A second convention, also in Las Vegas, is scheduled to begin today. Raines said he is not able to go. Organizers expect about 75 sheriffs who weren’t at the first convention to attend. There are more than 3,000 sheriffs in the U.S.
One particular right Raines and other “constitutional sheriffs” focus on is the right to bear arms. They believe it’s in jeopardy.
“Get on the news, and you’ll find there’s always been a threat to take Second Amendment rights away,” Raines said. “There’s always been a threat out there.”
He wasn’t specific, but said he’s heard about legislation that would take away Second Amendment rights.
The constitutional sheriffs association’s founder, Richard Mack, was sheriff in Graham County, Ariz., more than a decade ago. He now writes books and travels the country, talking about his belief that an “out-of-control” federal government has left the country on the brink of destruction.
Mack worries about federal agents going door-to-door, confiscating guns. He says farmers who produce raw milk have faced federal charges.
He calls the Environmental Protection Agency “the number-one job killer” because of its regulatory power.
Mack, who believes a sheriff’s authority is so great that he or she doesn’t have to obey the president, said state sovereignty is the movement’s main focus.
An effective way to protect that sovereignty, he said, is the Second Amendment.
“You can’t do that if you’re disarmed by a government that should be protecting your rights — not taking them away,” said Mack, who is the author of “The County Sheriff: America’s Last Hope.”
He added: “Who’s going to enforce state sovereignty? Not the federal government. It has to be local officials, who have the courage to stand against the incursions of the federal government.”
Mack said the movement is not subversive, and it’s not a violent protest.
In fact, he said, having constitutional sheriffs is “a way to make sure it doesn’t get violent.”
Raines, who is running for a third term this November against retired Ingham County sheriff’s Detective Lt. Tom Reich, is one of two sheriffs in Michigan known to be a part of the movement. The other is Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf.
Leaf, who like Raines is a Republican, will attend this week’s convention in Las Vegas. He also went to the first.
One of his goals, Leaf said, is to continue learning about what a sheriff’s duty and authority is.
“If you don’t use the authority that is granted to you,” he said, “you are, in a sense, taking it away from the public.”
This week’s convention, which begins today and ends Tuesday, features presentations on state sovereignty, the Bill of Rights as well a keynote speech by Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Arpaio gained notoriety for his practice of housing some county jail inmates in an outdoor “tent city” in the desert. He also conducted an investigation into President Barack Obama’s Hawaiian birth certificate, announcing this year that he’d determined it was fraudulent.
Mack said he admires Arpaio for being a strong sheriff.
A few years ago, Raines formed a citizens group, called the Guardians of the Constitution, made up mostly of citizens who hold licenses to carry concealed pistols.
Raines called the group, which he said now has about 275 members, a “self-sustaining, non-law-enforcement, citizens group.”
They meet monthly to discuss a range of issues, including concerns about the constitutionality of various legislation. They can help legislators make good decisions, Raines said, and pass “good, viable laws.”
Many are concealed pistol license holders, he acknowledged. The fact that they have the gun licenses, Raines said, means they have been vetted by state and federal authorities and are eligible to serve in one of his agency’s volunteer deputy groups, such as the all-terrain vehicle or horse-riding divisions.
The Guardians of the Constitution, he said, is like a clearinghouse for people who want to move into one of the volunteer deputy groups, which require volunteers to have concealed pistol permits.
The group’s proposed mission statement, which is posted on the website for the sheriff’s office, says, in part: “We believe Sheriff Raines is an innovative and progressive sheriff with a heart for people and for the Constitution. ... A free society shall not be shackled by the bonds of tyranny, and shall have the right to keep and bear arms.”
Raines said his main motivation is protecting all the rights of his constituents, particularly the first 10 amendments to the Constitution.
“And if anybody is against that, they’re against protecting the rights of the individual,” he said, adding: “The citizens of the county and all across the country should be happy they have elected sheriffs, because they have the power to be a check and balance.”
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