04/95 Chenoweth’s “Sheriff-first” Bill

“Sheriff Check-off” bill set for post-Easter break–
Bill would rein in the power of BATF and other federal agencies

by Gun Owners of America

(Wed., April 12) — Rep. Helen Chenoweth (R-ID) was on her way to introduce the “sheriff check-off” bill last Friday, but the House recessed for Easter break before she could do it. She has told GOA that she will introduce the bill as soon as the House reconvenes in three weeks. The sheriff bill would require federal agents to first get the permission of the chief local law enforcement officer before they conduct an arrest.

Had a “sheriff first” bill like this been in affect three years ago, many children (in both Waco and Ruby Ridge) might still be alive today. The bill stipulates that in attempting to apprehend a person, the feds must first get permission from the sheriff [or the chief local law enforcement officer], and then continue to get approval every 48 hours. This means that if a siege gets out of hand and it becomes obvious that the feds are on a witch hunt (like at Waco and Ruby Ridge), the sheriff can simply refuse to give his permission again and tell the feds to get lost.

GOA helped draft this bill with the intent of returning our government to its constitutional foundations. Considering the fact that Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution gives no authority for federal law enforcement agencies like the BATF, IRS, etc., it makes sense to have such agencies check in with the local authorities — the ones who are constitutionally authorized to enforce the law.

This bill will be a practical way to preserve all of our freedoms, and especially our gun rights. Many BATF abuses might never have occurred if they had to get permission from local authorities first.

[The bill does exempt INS and Customs agents (because of their peculiar work in guarding the border) if they are in hot pursuit of a person who has committed a felony or who is in the country illegally. The bill also exempts any federal agent who witnesses a crime being committed and who must act in order to prevent imminent physical bodily harm from occurring to another person.]

The following Representatives have agreed to cosponsor the sheriff check-off bill: Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), Wes Cooley (R-OR), John Doolittle (R-CA), Jack Metcalf (R-WA), Linda Smith (R-WA) and Steve Stockman (R-TX).


1. Ask your Congressman to cosponsor Rep. Chenoweth’s “sheriff check-off” bill. Every Congressman has received three Dear Colleague letters from Rep. Chenoweth asking them to cosponsor the bill. They can’t claim ignorance. Urge them to get on the stick and to become an original cosponsor of the bill. Call your Rep. at 202-225-3121. If they are interested in signing on to the bill, tell them to call Al Garesche in Rep. Chenoweth’s office at 225-6611. (Mr. Garesche is handling this issue for the Congresswoman.)

2. If your Rep. is already a cosponsor (see list above), call them and thank them for taking a stand for freedom.

This alert was posted by Gun Owners of America, 8001 Forbes Place, Suite 102, Springfield, VA 22151, (703)321-8585, fax: 321-8408.