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I write to ask a question of our St. Mary’s County sheriff. I hope that he will read my letter and respond in this forum so that all in St. Mary’s County can understand where he stands on an issue of extreme importance to our personal liberty and safety.

It is apparent from the strong political winds blowing around us that we shall soon have some form of federal gun control imposed upon us via executive diktat, judicial fiat or legislative sleight of hand. This control will likely infringe upon our right to protect our personal liberty and safety by keeping and bearing arms, a God-given right which the Second Amendment specifically prohibits the federal government from infringing upon.

My question to Sheriff Timothy K. Cameron is: Will you be complicit in a federally imposed executive order, judicial ruling, or law that infringes upon our right to keep and bear arms, or will you uphold the Second Amendment in accordance with your oath of office?

On Dec. 4, 2006, Clerk of the Circuit Court Joan Williams administered your oath of office in which you swore to support the Constitution of the United States. Your Law Enforcement Oath of Honor also states that you will always uphold the Constitution, your community and the agency you serve.

Should the citizens of St. Mary’s County ever be subjected to an infringement by the federal government of our right to keep and bear arms, I hope that Sheriff Cameron will honor his oath to the Constitution, uphold the community that he serves, and stand as a bulwark against this dire threat to our personal liberty and safety.

In the 1997 case Printz/Mack v. United States, the Supreme Court ruled: “The Federal Government may neither issue directives requiring States to address particular problems, nor command States’ officers, or those of their political subdivisions, to administer or enforce a federal regulatory program.” This decision was the culmination of a three-year legal battle fought by Sheriff Jay Printz of Ravalli County, Mont., and Sheriff Richard Mack of Graham County, Ariz. In 1994 both sheriffs filed separate actions challenging the constitutionality of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 and, in both cases, the district courts ruled in favor of the sheriffs. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, however, reversed the lower court’s ruling in 1995. The Supreme Court granted certiorari in 1996 and reversed the Ninth Circuit’s ruling on June 27, 1997, upholding the lower court’s decision in favor of the sheriffs.

Our Declaration of Independence states that “whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends (i.e., Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness), it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

It was citizens bearing arms who cast off the oppressive and tyrannical shackles of the British crown. Will Sheriff Cameron uphold and defend our right to keep and bear arms, the express purpose of which is to protect our personal liberty and safety, or acquiesce to what portends to be an unconstitutional federal gun grab and, ultimately, a loss of the aforementioned principles?

Mike McGinn, California