Le Petit Tyran
Last week the Sheriff of Los Angeles County (Sheriff Alex Villanueva) decided to start making orders and granting interviews.
His proclamations were hysterical, misguided, legally dubious, and Constitutionally volatile. I suspect once this whole thing is over Sheriff Villanueva will become Mr. Villanueva, and will probably suffer a substantially depleted bank account from loosing a § 1983 action or actions.
Let me preface this blog with a disclaimer of sorts:
Many people assume (incorrectly) that I am politically conservative. I am not. I’m probably best described as a classical liberal; as such, I am a strict constructionist regarding Constitutional interpretation. As modern political parties go, I guess you could say I am fairly close to being a modern libertarian.
One of the glorious aspects of the Constitution is the fundamental protection of minority rights. There is a reason we have a Bill of Rights at the federal level, and incorporation via the Fourteenth Amendment. Political passions may become inflamed, and a majority of voters may seek out reprisals and affronts of specific minorities… but those minorities are protected from the irrational whims of the majority.
This is how it is supposed to work.
We have had a less than stellar performance over our national history, but we strive to get that right. That is why we don’t have laws that state you cannot criticize a political figure. That is why we have equal protection. That is why unpopular speech is so often vigorously defended by lawyers who detest the speech their clients utter. To only allow popular majority opinions is to invite dictatorship.
Then you have those who have been elected to the seats of power that have literally no clue how the system is supposed to work, political sycophants that posture to their majority constituents at the expense of their minorities. Unmoored by an established political philosophy… (or worse, never having established a philosophy in the first place), these “leaders” hasten the fall of our republic.
(If you have arrived here from our newsletter, continue reading here…)
Last week Sheriff Villanueva pontificated that he was the “man in charge”. Shades reminiscent of Alexander Haig in front of the White House, Villanueva claimed that the National Guard reported to him. He controlled the military assets if they were going to be deployed.
The Governor is the “Commander in Chief” of the California State Military Department (which includes the California National Guard and the State Guard) and, while the soldiers are under what is called Title 32 orders, they report ultimately to him. In the event the President needs those soldiers, they switch to what are called Title 10 Orders and become federalized. At that point, the chain of command bypasses the Governor and travels directly to the President.
The sheriff is not only out of the loop, he actually falls below the activated National Guard soldiers.
That is not to say that law enforcement doesn’t serve a purpose in a state emergency. It is just that the command and control does not run through them… it runs through the military.
So… he blew that one. (Evidently the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors took issue with it too, and he is now in a peeing match with them… hey… it works for me.)
He wanted to let everyone know, though, in the same interview that pot stores would remain open! In any emergency we need to have the ability to sit back and study all of the air molecules floating around us and watch the rainbows form.
He did not share the same love for civil rights though.
“Gun stores are nonessential and should close immediately!”
You are depopulating our prisons, setting up the seeds for massive social discord, and now because you don’t like guns, you want to close gun stores? (Please note that many other governors… some decidedly anti-gun… have recognized gun stores are essential.)
Well… the offices of Michele and Associates had already drafted a memo on the “essentialness” of firearms facilities and the Constitutional issues with a state actor interfering with a federally protected activity. Apparently LA County counsel got a copy of it, and told Villanueva to back off.
He was not pleased, but rescinded his order… until he got direction from the Governor.
Realizing that a boatload of anti-gunners are now becoming first-time firearms owners, the governor had the political understanding that this was not the time to start interfering with his constituents’ 2A rights. Many diehard antis are now for the first time discovering the byzantine and, frankly, nonsensical world of legal firearm acquisition and ownership, and they are becoming decidedly angry.
President Obama had said that “buying a Glock was easier than buying a book”. They now know that was a flat-out lie.
So… the Governor decided to punt. He would not be calling Villanueva to give him direction; he would leave “essential business” up to the sheriffs.
Still, Villanueva needed some type of authority to go against County Counsel… and he found it… kinda.
He contacted the Sheriff’s Association… a liberal anti-gun trade group with no enumerated powers, and they told him he should shut down the gun stores.
Grasping at this pathetic missive he has reinstated his “close it down” policy.
This won’t just bite him in the ass… it is going to tear off his entire lower extremities.
Sheriff Villanueva… you have made your position clear, and we hope you fester in your early retirement.
***UPDATE*** The Federal Government has recognized gun manufacturers, gun dealers, and ranges as “essential industries”. As a result, Villanueva has rescinded (again) his order that they close. (That being said,… while I am happy with the result, it still does not change the fundamental analysis…. he must go.)