Former Arizona Sheriff Richard Mack, the founder of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, drew an overflow crowd on Saturday, at the Yavapai Patriots monthly luncheon meeting at Los Pinos Restaurant in Prescott.
Sheriff Mack, the former Sheriff of Graham County, gained national prominence in the 1990’s as the lead plaintiff challenging the Clinton administration’s Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, popularly known as the Brady Bill, which sought to enforce federal firearms regulations by placing mandates on state level law enforcement officials.
Sheriff Mack and a handful of other constitutional sheriffs across the country challenged the mandate in federal court. Both Mack and Montana Sheriff, Joe Printz, prevailed at the District Court level, which held the requirement for state cooperation unconstitutional. The Clinton Justice Department appealed to the 9th Circuit Court which reversed the District Courts of Arizona and Montana and upheld the federal mandate.
In one of the most far reaching affirmations of state sovereignty in American jurisprudence, the Supreme Court, in Printz vs. United States, 521 US 898 (1997), reversed the 9th Circuit and struck down the federal mandate on state law enforcement as a violation of state sovereignty under of the 10th Amendment of the US Constitution. The 10th Amendment places a limitation on federal powers and guarantees the sovereign powers of the states by providing that “……powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution….are reserved to the States respectively…or to the people.”
The key provision of the Brady Bill in question required that the Chief Law Enforcement Officers at the state level conduct background checks on gun purchases and otherwise assist in the enforcement of federal gun registration requirements. Failure to comply risked arrest and imprisonment. Sheriff Mack was eventually joined by seven other constitutional sheriffs throughout the country—out of the nearly 31,000 sheriffs nationwide — and the cases were consolidated for argument before the Supreme Court in 1997.
In the Supreme Court’s 5 to 4 decision, Justice Scalia, writing for the majority, upheld the principle of dual sovereignty under the 10th amendment and held that Congress cannot order state legislatures to enact laws enforcing federal mandates and cannot order state level executive officials such as county sheriffs to enforce federal laws. The decision was a monumental victory for state sovereignty and continues to stand as a check on federal overreach.
Following his victory before the Supreme Court, Sheriff Richard Mack turned to the lecture circuit as a folk hero to constitutionalist and patriot groups across the county, speaking at Tea Party rallies, law enforcement meetings, and before grassroots political activists throughout the country. He has authored eight books, including The County Sheriff—America’s Last Hope—which has sold over 100,000 copies since publication in 2009. He remains active on the lecture circuit and teaches American History at an Arizona charter school in Maricopa County.
The Yavapai Patriots have announced an impressive roster of speakers at upcoming meetings. Next month’s speaker will be Arizona Senate Whip, Sonny Borelli (Mohave County), who will speak on the challenges facing Arizona patriots in the upcoming election. Senate President and author of SB1070, Russell Pearce, and former Reagan Administration official and conservative publisher of the Western Journal, Floyd Brown, are scheduled in coming months.
Dr. Lyle Rapacki, founder and Chairman of Yavapai Patriots, states that the purpose of the organization is to provide a forum and networking opportunities for constitutional patriots. The organization is unaffiliated with any political party and their meetings are free and open to the public.