OK, it was fine when the Charleston County sheriff got on board with the Run, Hide, Fight campaign from the Department of Homeland Security. Al Cannon posted its video on the Sheriff's Office's website. It's catchy, and if it made a few people stop and think about what they would do at work in case someone came in with guns blazing, then it was worth it.
And when he held a press conference last week about guns in schools, he seemed to strike a reasoned tone when he said that arming teachers could raise other safety concerns.
But Thursday, he joined the ranks of other sheriffs across the country by saying he will refuse to enforce any law coming out of the White House that he finds unconstitutional.
After stepping over the line, he dumped his bullets all over it, just to make sure we got the point.
Everybody who thought that whole slapping-a-prisoner incident was a one-time thing might now be scratching their heads about letting that blow over.
Guns for everyone
Cannon does want to protect the public, that much is clear. Or more accurately, he wants to protect the gun-owning public.
But Thursday's actions aren't helping, and don't even really make a lot of sense.
First of all, where does Cannon think he is? This is South Carolina, for crying out loud, where we have a constitutional amendment protecting your right to hunt.
Nobody's going to come into your house and take away your gun, Al. Certainly not after Thursday's little display. They'd be too afraid that you'd dump the bullets out and pistol whip them instead.
He's right, criminals will not voluntarily give up their 30-round clips. Neither will many law-abiding citizens who shoot semi-automatic weapons for fun or use them for hunting, even though they're completely unnecessary.
It's entirely possible that the president's executive order will eventually go the way of an SCE&G rate increase — ask for the moon knowing that you'll never get it, then accept the compromise because overall, you're still gaining ground.
Cannon should know all this; he is, if nothing else, a talented politician. How else would he be able to condemn people who are “taking advantage of broken hearts” in the aftermath of the mass school shooting in Newtown, Conn., and at the same time exploit those emotions by taking a stand against enforcing the law, something that he's, you know, supposed to do.
During his soliloquy, Cannon cited his military training, and said that as a solider, you have to weigh your orders against what is legal and decide how to proceed.
So the next time one of the sheriff's deputies decides a particular law is unconstitutional, that deputy doesn't have to follow the law either, apparently.
Aren't they supposed to be in law enforcement?
Not on his own
Maybe this is an attempt at cost savings for the county. If the sheriff is now also the judge and jury, think how much time we could save by getting rid of things like due process and fair trials. Makes that kangaroo court scene in “The Dark Knight Rises” almost look rational.
As noted, Cannon is not the only one reacting to the president's plan. Oregon's Linn County sheriff even posted his letter to Vice President Joe Biden on the sheriff's department Facebook page. It says, in part, “I refuse to participate, or stand idly by, while my citizens are turned into criminals due to the unconstitutional actions of misguided politicians.”
Let's hope that Charleston County's citizens will not stand idly by while a misguided sheriff picks and chooses which laws he wants to enforce.
Reach Melanie Balog at 937-5565 or firstname.lastname@example.org.