Get to Know Your Local Sheriff

When the media claims that law enforcement supports some particular element of gun control, they are not talking about real working cops. Instead, they almost always use police chiefs as their sources. The reason is that they know that police chiefs are not elected; they are appointed by mayors or city councils. As a result, chiefs dutifully parrot the mayors’ views, which typically means support for gun control (and the media narrative).

Conversely, the anti-gun media seldom talks to sheriffs, and for good reason. Sheriffs are elected, and gun owners often represent a sizeable percentage of their voters. As a result, sheriffs tend to be far more supportive of our rights. And since that view does not fit the media’s anti-gun-rights narrative, sheriffs are not at the top of their list. Some sheriffs are even unabashedly outspoken about their pro-gun-rights stance. Former Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke is a perfect example. He is vociferously in favor of citizens having the right to be armed. He has also openly and publicly supported concealed carry laws.

Then there are those few sheriffs who are definitely at the other end of the spectrum. There is probably no better example than Sheriff Scott Israel of Broward County, Florida. He not only refused to take responsibility for his department’s disastrous botching of the entire Parkland, Florida, school shooting case, but he also went on TV and blamed the NRA.

Thankfully, the majority of sheriffs are nothing like Sheriff Israel, and while they may not all be as outspoken as Sheriff Clarke, they are more likely to be on our side than not. But it is important to find out for yourself. In my years of meeting with officials, I have found that nothing reveals someone’s real views like a face-to-face discussion. Unlike state and Congressional representatives, your sheriff is in your county, and he is much more likely to have conveniently located offices. In some larger cities, sheriffs and local police cooperate. In smaller towns such as the one in which I live in Florida, there is no local police department. The county sheriff supplies all law enforcement services.

Regardless, you will likely need an appointment. When you call, you will be asked what the purpose of the meeting is. Simply state that “as a politically active constituent, I simply want to introduce myself and get to know the sheriff.” Do not accept “he is very busy” as an answer. Be polite but insistent.

When you meet, after the usual pleasantries, ask him his opinions on general topics such as the state of crime in your county and where things are heading. When you think it is the right time, ask him bluntly how he feels about state carry laws in general and how he believes such laws are working out locally. If your sheriff supports our rights, ask him when his next election is scheduled and what you can do to support him. If he seems ambivalent, or even hostile to gun rights, well then, at least you know what to do come the next election.

Regardless of how the meeting goes, remember that knowledge is power. And knowing your local law enforcement personally is always a good idea. Besides, having your sheriff’s card in your wallet may come in handy one day. It did for me.

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