Claim:   Linn County Sheriff Tim Mueller sent a letter to Vice President Biden stating that he would not enforce any “unconstitutional regulations” regarding gun rights.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, January 2013]

Did Sheriff Tim Mueller send a letter to Vice President Biden regarding his position as Sheriff to not uphold any federal regulation
enacted by Congress or by executive order of the President offending the constitutional rights of citizens in Linn County, Oregon?


Origins:   On 15 January 2013, amidst political debate about the potential implementation of additional federal gun control laws recommended by a task force chaired by Vice President Joe Biden, Sheriff Tim Mueller of Linn County, Oregon, went public with a letter addressed to Vice President Biden, stating he would not enforce any “unconstitutional orders or regulations” in his jurisdiction:

Dear Mr. Vice President.

I am Sheriff Tim Mueller, elected twice by the citizens of Linn County Oregon who have entrusted me with a noble cause: to keep them and their families safe. My deputies and I take that responsibility very seriously and, like you, have sworn to support the Constitution of the United States. I take that oath equally as serious as protecting our citizens. I have worked for the people of Linn County for over 28 years as a member of the Linn County Sheriff’s Office as well as serving three years active duty as a Military Police Officer in the US Army, where I also swore a similar oath.

In the wake of the recent criminal events, politicians are attempting to exploit the deaths of innocent victims by advocating for laws that would prevent honest, law abiding Americans from possessing certain firearms and ammunition magazines. We are Americans. We must not allow, nor shall we tolerate, the actions of criminals, no matter how heinous the crimes, to prompt politicians to enact laws that will infringe upon the liberties of responsible citizens who have broken no laws.

Any federal regulation enacted by Congress or by executive order of the President offending the constitutional rights of my citizens shall not be enforced by me or my deputies, nor will I permit the enforcement of any unconstitutional regulations or orders by federal officers within the borders of Linn County Oregon.

In summary, it is the position of this Sheriff that I refuse to participate, or stand idly by, while my citizens are turned into criminals due to the unconstitutional actions of misguided politicians.


Sheriff Jim Hensley of Crook County, Oregon, sent an identical letter to Vice President Biden, as did Sheriff John Bishop of Curry County, Oregon.
Sheriff Craig Zanni of Coos County, Oregon, penned a somewhat similar letter, but it was addressed to the citizens of his county rather than Vice President Biden.

Legal analysts maintained that the contents of such letters were inconsequential:

Local officials don’t get to make that call, CNN Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin said.

“A sheriff does not get to decide whether laws are constitutional,” he said. “Unless a court invalidates a law, he’s obligated to enforce it.”

In any event, local police wouldn’t be responsible for enforcing federal gun laws, CNN Legal Analyst Paul Callan said.

“The FBI will be enforcing them, treasury agents will enforce them. It won’t be local police who would be out making sure federal gun regulations are enforced,” he said.

Last updated:   16 January 2013

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