[pull_quote_center]”As long as I’m the sheriff in this county, I will not allow the federal government to come in here and strip my citizens of their right to bear arms. I can tell you this, if they attempt to do that, it would be an all-out civil war, no question about it.”[/pull_quote_center]
(from delmarva now)The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence wants Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis’ teaching certification to be revoked.
The group started a campaign after Lewis and his comments on gun rights were brought into the national spotlight. A quote from Lewis highlighted on the Web page from his interview with News21 reads:
“As long as I’m the sheriff in this county, I will not allow the federal government to come in here and strip my citizens of their right to bear arms. I can tell you this, if they attempt to do that, it would be an all-out civil war, no question about it.”
Lewis said Tuesday the Second Amendment isn’t an issue that is brought up in the classroom. In classes, he teaches about apprehending and identifying criminals, he said. The only part of the Constitution that comes in is the Fourth Amendment, which relates to searches and seizures.
And it’s “ludicrous” for the coalition to think he isn’t going to enforce laws, Lewis said.
“They’re going to twist and turn this to suit their own special needs,” he said.
The campaign to revoke Lewis’ teaching certification began Monday, and as of about 4:15 p.m. Tuesday, about 1,470 signatures had been collected via an online petition, said Ladd Everitt, director of communications for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, a Washington-based gun control group.
“When you employ violence against your government essentially to effect policy decisions, you are damaging the principle of political equality,” Everitt said.
Everitt said the petition will be delivered to the Maryland Police Training Commission.
Everitt said the coalition has been following what it would consider insurrectionist behavior for several years. He noted how Lewis had backed up his comments: It wasn’t just the interview with Arizona-based News21, an initiative of the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in which students participate as reporters.
He said he was “astonished” Lewis was still able to train law enforcement officers after making the comments.
Someone who threatens violence isn’t the type of person Everitt wants teaching officers.
“That’s the behavior of a thug, not a citizen in a democracy,” he said.
When asked what his response was to that comment, Lewis said he’s entitled to his opinion, but it’s coming from someone who hasn’t spent 30 years fighting thugs, among them armed drug traffickers.
“That comment is coming from an individual who lacks experience to even make a comment like that,” Lewis said.
The only way a certification would be revoked is via a staff review, said Gerald Shields, spokesman for the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, of which the Maryland Police and Correctional Training Commissions are a part.
That staff review would be the result of a request; the review would determine whether the person has violated any commission regulations, Shields said. Anyone can make a request, he said.
Shields didn’t have any comment on the campaign or whether a petition would have an effect on a certification being revoked.
Lewis, who has served on the Maryland Police Training Commission, said he’s never threatened anybody. For the group to try to revoke his certification is “weak,” he said.
Lewis said he stands behind his comments.
It’s his job as sheriff to warn the government what would happen if it encroaches on his constituents’ rights, Lewis said. But he doesn’t expect things to get to that point, he said.
And Lewis said the Firearm Safety Act of 2013 –– which increased regulation of firearms in Maryland –– hasn’t impacted his ability to do his job.
“I will continue to identify and arrest all criminals who are in violation of the law,” he said.
The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence offers a space on its website for people to put in their name, email address and ZIP code in support of having Lewis’ certification revoked.
“It is difficult to see how a law enforcement officer who is threatening to wage war with the United States government meets any recognized standards of public service,” the coalition’s website states. “In the wake of his threatening comments, Sheriff Lewis should not be given the responsibility of training law enforcement officers in Maryland.”
Law enforcement officers can exercise discretionary authority in traffic stops and criminal enforcement, Lewis said.
“We will continue to do exactly what we’ve always done,” Lewis said.