Goshen News, Goshen, IN

May 19, 2013

Like it or not, Sheriff is going to speak freely


— Elkhart County Sheriff Brad Rogers has taken heat the past couple weeks after he commented during a political rally in downtown South Bend that he would not enforce proposed future gun-control legislation within his jurisdiction.

Editorials in regional newspapers criticized Rogers’ stance, stating that the sheriff has a responsibility to enforce all the laws that legislators put on the books, even ones he may not agree with. Rogers has been a staunch supporter of the rights of gun owners, so it’s hardly a surprise that he would oppose more gun-ownership restrictions. Still, does his personal objection merit — with apologies to Sarah Palin — such Maverickiness?

 

Some may suggest that Sheriff Rogers, a Republican, is off-base in his hypothetical stance — remember, we’re not talking about actual laws yet — but don’t count this newspaper in that camp. We feel the sheriff is making a sensible argument that has people thinking more deeply about the role of government in our lives and the assurances provided each American citizen through the eloquent, yet at times imperfect, United States Constitution. This is certainly grown-up talk we’re having here.

Rogers feels deeply he is an agent of that Constitution and his oath of office includes protecting it, along with the citizens of Elkhart County. We understand the alarm of those who feel stricter gun-control laws are necessary in this day and age, especially in the aftermath of sinister mass shootings. But we also understand why the Second Amendment is such a vital factor of our American freedom. It was written into the framework of this country for a reason.

 

Do we agree with everything Sheriff Rogers is saying? No. Rogers has on several occasions referred to gun-free zones — such as schools — as “kill zones.” That seems like a dramatic overreach to us, but freedom of speech is also protected by the Constitution. Still, we don’t feel Rogers was out of line in his comments in South Bend regarding gun law enforcement. We are often encouraged when our politicians speak exactly what’s on their mind. It removes gray areas and citizens are better informed when they go to cast votes.

Right or wrong, Rogers has proven he isn’t afraid to stand up against the big boys on behalf of Elkhart County citizens. In 2011 he threatened to arrest federal Food and Drug Administration officials if they attempted to inspect a dairy farm near Middlebury without either a warrant or owner consent. And this month he stressed that his loyalties are tethered to the Constitution, the supreme law of the U.S.A. since 1789, not its potential edits.

Like it or not, that’s just the kind of guy Rogers seems to be.