Let’s see how many readers passed their basic civics coursework back in high school. Who can fire an elected public official or remove him or her from office? (Those of you who paid attention to the Kim Davis story can read your textbooks quietly for now.) It seems that the Brady campaign and The Hill both need refresher courses on basic civics:

Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin ruffled feathers after it came to lightthat he sent Vice President Joe Biden a letter in January 2013, threatening to not enforce stronger gun laws.

According to reports, Hanlin also posted a conspiracy video on his Facebook page suggesting the government was behind the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting as well as the 9/11 terrorist attacks in a coordinated effort to “disarm the public.” He later distanced himself from the video and denied claims he is a conspiracy theorist.

This has enraged gun-control activists.

Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said, the “overwhelming majority of Americans don’t want a 9/11 and Sandy Hook conspiracy theorist leading the investigation.”

“We are calling on John Hanlin not only to be replaced as the lead investigator, but also to be immediately removed as sheriff,” Gross told reporters.

“As sheriff, he has shown he has no qualms about putting his ideology over his responsibility to protect his citizens,” Gross added.

The Hill’s headline emphasized the Brady Campaign’s demand:

There’s one big problem with this demand: Douglas County Sheriffs are elected to office, as are most sheriffs in the US. John Hanlin is currently serving his second term, having run unopposed in 2012 for re-election. The only people who can “fire” or remove Hanlin from his office are the people who elected him.

That is basic American civics, which the Brady Campaign apparently hasn’t learned, and which The Hill didn’t know enough to question. There is literally no discussion within the article about the fact that Hanlin is an elected official in their story. This is the second time in the last two months that the US media has failed to recognize that elected officials cannot be fired or removed by other elected officials, the Kim Davis story being the first.

The Brady Campaign’s spokesman screeches about putting ideology above public safety as if Hanlin invented selective enforcement. Where has the Brady Campaign been with so-called “sanctuary cities,” which refuse to cooperate in enforcing immigration law? Did they call for the “firings” of mayors and city council members in places like San Francisco after the Steinle murder, among many other examples? What about the selective enforcement of the Department of Homeland Security on immigration under executive orders from Barack Obama? Will they call for Obama’s “firing” for putting politics above public safety?

Furthermore, if Hanlin determines that specific gun-control regulations violate the Constitution, he shouldn’t enforce it. If his constituents disagree, they can vote him out of office in a couple of years. That’s the only way he gets “fired” or “removed” from an elected position, a fact that public activists ought to learn before they make absurd and ignorant public demands.

Don’t hold your breath waiting for a recall election, either. This part of Oregon is very conservative; Romney won by nearly 2:1 in Douglas in a state Obama carried by twelve points. Speaking of which, Obama will travel there later this week to meet with the families of the victims of the mass shooting. While the families will certainly appreciate the President’s presence, don’t expect it to change many minds in Douglas about gun control.


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