Friday, July 2, 2010

Jackson & Juneau County DAs Exhibit Posse Comitatus Philosophy

The term posse comitatus is Latin for "power of the county."  It originally referred to the legal authority of a County Sheriff to conscript civilians into an ad hoc militia for law enforcement purposes.

When capitalized, Posse Comitatus also refers to a far-right militia movement that believes that the County Sheriff is the ultimate law of the land. Posse groups sprang up all over the country after the Watergate era.  Wisconsin's own merry band of outlaws had their Sherwood Forest in Shawano County, around the community of Tigerton.  While there was some variation in Posse groups around the country, most were Christian Identity activists.

While the Posse Comitatus largely disappeared from public awareness after most of its leaders were imprisoned in the '80s, their underlying legal philosophy -- that County-level law enforcement trumps State and Federal laws -- is making a political comeback.

A few months ago, Juneau County District Attorney Scott Southworth sent a letter to several school districts warning them not to comply with the new State law requiring that public schools with sex education programs teach students about contraceptives. 

This week, Jackson County District Attorney Gerald Fox is pretending to be a constitutional scholar, claiming that the Supreme Court's recent decision in McDonald v. Chicago "immediately renders some of Wisconsin's current laws unconstitutional".  Apparently, there is no need for the courts to decide which regulations are reasonable; Gerald Fox has already declared the following to be unenforceable:
Section 167.31, prohibiting uncased or loaded firearms in vehicles;
Section 941.23, prohibiting the carrying of concealed weapons, including firearms;
Section 941.235, prohibiting the possession of firearms in public buildings;
Section 941.237, prohibiting the possession of firearms in establishments where alcohol may be sold or served; and,
Section 941.24, prohibiting the possession of knives that open with a button, or by gravity, or thrust, or movement.

So, Wisconsin's gun nuts need only move to Jackson County, where they can throw their uncased, loaded gun in their vehicle before driving over bumpy back roads, then carry a concealed gun or switchblade into a courthouse or bar.  While Black River Falls police chief Don Gilberg says he will still enforce state and local laws, J. B. Van Hollen calls such decisions "a matter of prosecutorial discretion."


Deekaman said...

I find it absurd that the Left feels the need to keep guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens. For what purpose would that be? Is it that we are considered children incapable of taking care of ourselves and needing government to keep us from "running with scissors"?

Ordinary Jill said...

Yes, that is pretty much why. If the NRA would spend more of its resources emphasizing safe gun handling rather than telling uneducated drunks that they have a constitutional right to pack heat wherever they go, the left would be far less eager to pass gun regulations. Celebratory gunfire isn't just something that happens in the Middle East; it is also a tradition in New Orleans. Professional athletes keep getting arrested when their gun accidentally goes off in public. I strongly believe in the right to bear arms, but with rights come responsibilities.

Deekaman said...

Seriously, Jill? You've failed to do your homework on the NRA. NRA could (and should) do a better job of advertising their gun safety programs, but I believe it is one of their most used.

"Celebratory gunfire" and professional athlete's gun stupidity require punishment of the offenders, not punishment of everyone. I suspect if we started actually severely punishing gun offenders (all offenders for that matter), these kinds of things you point out would not happen.

Ordinary Jill said...

I agree. The NRA runs (voluntary) gun safety programs, it's true. However, most of their money is spent on fundraising and on lobbying for looser gun restrictions rather than for more firearms education. Their fundraising efforts are greatly assisted by convincing people that the federal government is trying to take their guns away.

Deekaman said...

If the federal government (actually, all levels of governemnt) were not trying to eliminate private ownership of firearms, there would be no need for the NRA.

Ordinary Jill said...

Sounds like you've been drinking Wayne LaPierre's kool-aid.

Deekaman said...

Not so much. The Constitution is pretty clear. Any restrictions on firearm ownership is unconstitutional. Government (at all levels) is trying to restrict the ownership of firearms. How is that "drinking the Kool-Aid"?