For those keeping track at home, add Utah to the list of states where lawmakers and officials are pushing back against even the idea of new gun control measures coming from Washington D.C.
At a rally in front of the Utah Capitol in Salt Lake City on Saturday, newly-elected state Rep. Brian Greene drew cheers when, according to The Salt Lake Tribune, he announced that “he would unveil legislation next week giving local sheriffs the power to arrest any federal agent attempting to seize firearms from Utah residents.”
Greene, who is a National Rifle Association “Golden Eagle,” told the crowd to be wary of President Barack Obama’s recent gun control proposals. Last week, the White House announced 23 executive actions Obama plans to take to reduce gun violence in the wake of December’s mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., as well as other proposals he wants Congress to take up.
“This is all about control,” Greene said. “I saw the president in his press conference the other day with all the children around him and he made this comment — and I want to correct him. He said if this can save just one life we have a duty to do it. No, Mr. President, you have a duty to uphold the Constitution.”
Greene’s bill is known as the Second Amendment Preservation Act. Reached by TPM on Tuesday, Greene said the bill was still being drafted, and public copies were not yet available.
Greene, however, was beaten to the punch by the Utah Sheriff’s Association, which last week, the day after Obama’s executive orders were announced, sent a letter to the President, telling him that “it is imperative this discussion be had in Congress, not silenced unilaterally by executive orders.”
“We respect the Office of the President of the United States of America,” the letter concluded. “But, make no mistake, as the duly-elected sheriffs of our respective counties, we will enforce the rights guaranteed to our citizens by the Constitution. No federal official will be permitted to descend upon our constituents and take from them what the Bill of Rights — in particular Amendment II — has given them. We, like you, swore a solemn oat to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and we are prepared to trade our lives for the preservation of its traditional interpretation.”
According to the Tribune’s report of Saturday’s rally, some of the speakers’ language went further than that.
“If I could tell one thing to these bedwetting, hand-wringing liberals out there, it’s that Thomas Jefferson anticipated you and called you a tyrant,” Clark Aposhian, Chairman of the Utah Shooting Sports Council, told the crowd. “And there’s already a method of taking care of it, if not by the First Amendment, then by the Second.”
Eric Lach is a reporter for TPM. From 2010 to 2011, he was a news writer in charge of the website’s front page. He has previously written for The Daily, NewYorker.com, GlobalPost and other publications. He can be reached at ericl(at)talkingpointsmemo.com