Ravalli County sheriff says he won’t take guns

2013-01-25T06:00:00Z Ravalli County sheriff says he won’t take gunsBy PERRY BACKUS - Ravalli Republic Ravalli Republic
January 25, 2013 6:00 am  • 

Ravalli County Sheriff Chris Hoffman wants to be perfectly clear on the issue of gun control.

“If the federal government ordered the confiscation of certain guns, I have been asked would I participate,” Hoffman said Thursday. “The answer is unequivocally no. I would not participate in the confiscation of guns from legal citizens.”

Hoffman said he has received dozens of phone calls and emails from county residents asking that question since President Barack Obama announced his plan for executive and legislation action to address gun violence earlier this month after the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.

“People are demanding to know where I stand,” Hoffman said. “It’s been a question that I’ve been asked since I was elected to this job and it’s never stopped being asked.”

Hoffman said his answer has always been the same.

“I have worked to defend the Constitution my entire life,” he said.

Hoffman is frustrated that he and others in law enforcement have been put in this position of being questioned about their loyalty to the Constitution.

He puts the situation right on the president’s doorstep, saying Obama’s decision to use executive action to address gun violence and circumvent legislative and judicial branches has created a stir among many in Ravalli County and elsewhere.

The president announced recently that he will take some steps to address gun violence without congressional approval, including improving the existing system for background checks, lifting the ban on federal research on gun violence, putting more counselors and officers in schools and better access to mental health services.

His plan also called on Congress to renew a prohibition on assault weapons that expired in 2004.

On Thursday, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., introduced a bill that would ban 150 specific military-style weapons, including rifles with flash suppressors or pistol grips.

The bill faces a tough battle in Congress.

U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., told U.S. News & World Report on Thursday that recent tragedies have shaken the nation and everyone wants to protect children and communities from violence.

“Enforcing the laws we already have on the books is a good first step, and it’s clear more needs to be done to address access to mental health care,” Baucus said in a statement to that publication. “Before passing new laws, we need a thoughtful debate that respects responsible, law-abiding gun owners ... instead of a one-size-fits-all directives from Washington.”

Hoffman said the last ban on assault rifles was ineffective and created a good deal of distrust among people who owned any variety of semiautomatic rifles.

“A Ruger ranch rifle has the same caliber and same action,” he said. “It fires every time you pull the trigger. Assault rifles are given that moniker by anti-gun folks, anti-Second Amendment folks.”

Reconsidering a ban of that style of rifle is part of what has people upset, Hoffman said.

“All that does is impact law-abiding citizens who follow the law,” Hoffman said.

And people are worried that if the ban on new assault rifles is passed, it might lead to a retroactive ban in which no one would be allowed to own one.

“People feel that is a natural progression,” Hoffman said. “If he’s willing to do this by presidential fiat, how much further will he go – the camel’s nose is that much further under the tent. What’s next?

“We all know that the left has always wanted to implement strict gun controls in this country without regard to the Second Amendment,” Hoffman said.

With that said, Hoffman doesn’t think the federal government is preparing to confiscate people’s firearms anytime soon.

“I don’t think that’s on the horizon,” he said. “But the moves the president has made and things that have been said in the national media do upset people and they want to know where their local law enforcement stands.”

“It appalls me that an American president has put local law enforcement in this position,” he said.

Reach reporter Perry Backus at 363-3300 or pbackus@ravallirepublic.com.

Copyright 2015 Ravalli Republic. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(22) Comments

  1. Darby1
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    Darby1 - January 31, 2013 1:21 pm
    I have to say I'm relieved to hear some sane comments from several people -- Sanity and Root -- you guys are right on. So I also realize that Sherriff Hoffman probably does get ALOT of crazy questions and phone calls from paranoid people and does feel pressured to make a statement. It's unfortunate because it makes our county look so backwoods. His statements were not nearly as bad as the the interview I heard on the radio the other night with the Lake County Sherriff. That was really cringe-worthy and made our law enforcement sound quite paraoid.
  2. Lee Enfield
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    Lee Enfield - January 29, 2013 11:10 am
    Mike Miller:

    I did the Google search on Katrina situation.

    That's a classic example of an exception proving the rule.

    The NO Police maintain they only seized weapons that were provably stolen or found in abandoned buildings. While I don't necessarily believe that, the explanation is at least plausible since there were countless abandoned buildings after the storm hit.

    But the main thing to consider is that a court ordered the return of the firearms.

    Doesn't sound like true confiscation to me.

    But thanks for the lead. Interesting reading.
  3. Mike Miller
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    Mike Miller - January 28, 2013 4:50 pm
    Lee, I am glad to hear you say "I would have a BIG problem with firearms confiscation." HOWEVER... I will tell you gun confiscation has in fact already happened in this country, in violation of the 2nd and 4th Amendments, at least as recently as Hurrican Katrina. Local, federal, and our own military made it happen Please do a search for 'katrina gun confiscation', and you will see MANY different news sources verifying this. Given this fact, and the facts the federal government continually attempts to and does 'infringe on the right to bear arms', I hope you can see where the mistrust comes form.
  4. Mike Miller
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    Mike Miller - January 28, 2013 4:42 pm
    Your statements above are wrong in MANY ways. In this video, out of Hoffman's mouth, he "has no authority over federal agencies and must obey them". See this video link below and you'll hear out of his mouth what I have written. Further, he violated Montana Constitition several times in his tenure, as recently as this last election cycle.

  5. Mike Miller
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    Mike Miller - January 28, 2013 12:10 pm
    Craig is 100% right when he says our own military violated the 2nd Amendment and confiscated citizen's weapons in violation of the 4th Amendment. Local law was involved with this process, as well.

    Hoffman talks the game, but his actions scream otherwise. His office heavy handed a family out of their house without due process. His office treated a law abing man following federal and state laws concerning firearms like a criminal. No telling what else under his watch.

    Hoffman even breaks our own State Consitution by using his office to push HIS PERSONAL views.

    Hoffman, you're an empty badge with hollow words. Your actions have proven this.

  6. Lee Enfield
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    Lee Enfield - January 28, 2013 10:47 am
    In an earlier incarnation of my career, I had a fairly regularly interaction with Sheriff Chris Hoffman, and was always impressed with his honesty, integrity and devotion to duty.

    The headline was certainly sensational. It's too bad this comment from the sheriff was buried near the bottom of the story:

    "With that said, Hoffman doesn’t think the federal government is preparing to confiscate people’s firearms anytime soon."

    I personally don't have a problem with reasonable restrictions on certain military styled weapons and extended magazines. The Supreme Court has ruled that the Second Amendment is not absolute. My right to own firearms has not suffered because ownership of the Thompson submachine gun was restricted in 1934.

    Now having said that, I would have a BIG problem with firearms confiscation.

    But no one - not even arch gun foe Diane Feinstein - is proposing to take anyone's weapons. Her bill specifically exempts existing assault weapons.

    Mike Miller, CNA and others will insist this is the "Slippery slope" that will end in gun grabbing.

    Well, I've been hearing that claim since I was 18. That was in 1968, by the way. And no guns have been "grabbed" from law-abiding citizens.

    I wish just once Americans could have a reasonable discussion about guns without all the drama, misinformation and paranoia.

  7. DA____
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    DA____ - January 28, 2013 10:13 am
    I have to laugh every time I hear the story of Hoffman kicking the Marchant family out of their home.
    The Marchant's bought a tax lean and moved into the house. They never payed for this house. This is a scam that the ultra left and the ultra right use to take advantage of society.
    Their son worked for me. Their sons were friends with my sons. They are actually good kids. The family attended our graduation party where we fed them. The story about getting kicked out of their home by Hoffman is BS however. My older kids helped move them out the night before the IRS showed up. They were there until 4 in the morning. They heard the discussion about what was going on. They knew this was coming. They had been given a lot of notice and knew that the home was never theirs in the first place. My 22 year old daughter was furious when she figured this out. They also left a ton of stuff there because they didn't want it. They also left the dog because the didn't want it. The family was gone when the feds showed up. Deputy Alstead was present because the Sheriff did not trust the feds and his job was to keep an eye on them. Dep. Alstead called me looking for the family so he could return the dog. He knew that I knew the kids and figured that I would get a hold of them. Later they accused Hoffman of kidnapping the dog. PATHETIC.

    The lies later told were rather incredible. The way that Sheriff Hoffman was publicly assaulted was disgusting. The way that the ultra right tried to destroy his character was beneath contempt. If you hate Hoffman for what he does or does not do that is fine, but when you have to make it up to further your agenda your are beneath contempt. That applies to right, left, conservative, liberal, republican and democrat.

    I appreciate the Sheriff's position and think he is doing a very good but difficult job. Keep up the good work Sheriff Hoffman. And thank you for your position on the second amendment.
  8. Craig Siphers
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    Craig Siphers - January 28, 2013 1:39 am
    It would be an interesting question if the Sheriff would stand up to the Feds should they come to take legally held firearms. If there are those who think the federal government will not confiscate legal firearms from the homes of citizens, it has already been done. It was very prevalent during the Katrina debacle when U.S. Military personnel actually went into neighborhoods and confiscated shotguns and pistols all legally owned and possessed by citizens of the United States. What more would they be willing or asked to do to curb these horrible "assualt" weapons from getting into the "wrong hands"? I don’t know what the final disposition was and I suspect nobody was held accountable for that action.

    I am sure Chris Hoffman believes he upholds the constitution but his officers have, apparently without accountability and with the complicity of the County Attorney’s office, disregarded the 4th amendment but that’s for another day.
  9. Sanity
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    Sanity - January 27, 2013 4:17 pm
    First of all NO ONE IS COMING FOR YOUR GUNS. I am tired of reading all this fear conspiracy that your rights are slowly being eroded. It's called common sense with LIMITS. The constitution does not give the right to bear arms without limit. Otherwise it would be perfectly legal for me to own a nuclear weapon, a V2 rocket, uranium bullets, RPGs and so on. There is no "confiscation" going to take place, so for Hoffman to say he would not participate in such a scenario is none other than appealing to the right wing conspiracy bully agenda. It's a political move to appeal to the Hillbilly's.
  10. Root
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    Root - January 26, 2013 11:24 am
    Generally, I think Sheriff Hoffman is a reasonable person. I also don't think he is stupid. But this story is ridiculous. No one has proposed taking your guns away. Frankly, it is an embarrassment to the county when the Sheriff feels compelled to give sway to irrational conspiracy theories that are not based on any set of facts. Shame on you, Sheriff Hoffman.
  11. phishMT
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    phishMT - January 25, 2013 6:39 pm
    A very smart Republican we have here....D A
  12. phishMT
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    phishMT - January 25, 2013 6:37 pm
    It is to easy for people to get their hands on these weapons and be it that every person that does own one or more of these weapons may not be a total nut, the sad truth is most of you do have mental health issues in some way or another. Please help me to understand WHY you could possibly need such weapons, oh and don't just say it your right. S**** your rights WHAT Reasons could you possibly have to justify the need to own one of these weapons? oh and government officials that openly defy the President should be removed from office. Oh and if you think it is not easy to get on of these weapons just go to the Classifieds on this page and just look at how many questionable weapons are listed.
  13. Big Sky Man
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    Big Sky Man - January 25, 2013 2:17 pm
    I want to personally thank Chris for standing on the Oath that he swore to uphold. Since his stance made public, I am speaking up behave of the many people I spoke with in Ravalli County and they are very grateful.
    Our freedoms have been slowly eroding for the exchange of "safety". I agree with Chris, the term "assault rifle" is coined by anti gun people. Without proper licensing, an average citizen simply cannot have an automatic rifle. Period. To look at an M-16 or M-4 automatic rifle as I carried in the Gulf War looks virtually identical as an AR 15 SEMI automatic rifle. Do not get confused. My strong suggestion with the real American people...sit down and take the time to simply read what the Founding Father established. Read the US Constitution. Knowledge is power. If you do not know your rights someone, somewhere will try to go around those rights all for your "safety". A prime example of that is the Patriot Act. I am glad people are waking up. It sends a strong message to DC, We the people will not accept this. Thanks again Chris for your Patriotic move.
  14. David
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    David - January 25, 2013 1:17 pm
    Im glad are sheriff is on are side on this. I still think we ban all Democrats tho. It would be for the greater good of this country. Just sayin.
  15. Comment Not Approved
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    Comment Not Approved - January 25, 2013 12:02 pm
    “The answer is unequivocally no. I would not participate in the confiscation of guns from legal citizens."

    Does this mean the good Sheriff will stop federal agents from confiscating guns? Will our Sheriff stand with the people or bow to the feds?

    Prepare and pray.
    Molon Labe!

  16. Orion
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    Orion - January 25, 2013 11:51 am
    Chris Hoffman said, “It appalls me that an American president has put local law enforcement in this position."

    In what position? His duty is to uphold and enforce the laws of the United States, the State of Montana, and Ravalli County - in that order. Until Sheriff Hoffman gains a seat on the US Supreme Court, I suggest he simply fulfill his job description, rather than his personal interpretation of the Constitution. If he can't do that, he should immediately resign.
  17. Mike Miller
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    Mike Miller - January 25, 2013 11:17 am
    Sheriif Hoffman does not follow the State or Federal Constitution very well. He violated State Constituion (right to bear arms) with Wayne Kelly, and this past fall by abusing his position telling us how to vote. He violated Federal Constitution by kicking a family out of their house without due process of law. These are the only two I know of, but I guess there would be more.
  18. Mike Miller
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    Mike Miller - January 25, 2013 11:06 am
    First off, what part of "SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED" do you not understand? Secondly, you haven;t been keeping up with Sen Feinsteins unconstitutional antics. She, and many others ARE coming for them, one step at a time.
  19. blodgett view
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    blodgett view - January 25, 2013 9:08 am
    As it stands now, the newest proposal to reenact the assault weapon ban that George W Bush allowed to lapse would grandfather in weapons that are already owned by law abiding citizens. Fortunately for Sheriff Hoffman, he will not be asked to confiscate them.
    "Would the government confiscate existing assault weapons?
    No. The ban would primarily affect the manufacture, sale, and transfer of new assault weapons. Both the White House and Feinstein say assault weapons already in private hands would remain legal. A similar provision in the 1994 legislation left untouched an estimated 1.5 million assault weapons in private ownership."
  20. Elmaxo
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    Elmaxo - January 25, 2013 9:01 am
    We are to be grateful to Sheriff Hoffman who has the courage to share what he knows to be the truth about the controversial "gun control". Let us support him in every way. Elmaxo
  21. hamilton
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    hamilton - January 25, 2013 7:46 am
    Can we please have a sensible discussion about guns instead of these conspiracy theory/re-election sound bites from Sheriff Hoffman? We all, including the Sheriff, his deputies and others in law enforcement will be safer without military style weapons and large ammunition magazines readily available.

    P.S. No one is coming for your guns.
  22. Scott McLean
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    Scott McLean - January 25, 2013 12:03 am
    I am grateful that this sheriff is taking his commitment to the Constitution literally and seriously unlike so many of our political class. This sheriff knows that there are just laws and unjust laws and he is willing to risk his job rather than enforce unjust laws. Those of us who feel gratitude for this sheriff should let him know it by emailing the sheriffs office and expressing our thanks for his courage. It is imperative that those who risk their well-being to stand up for our rights recieve more kudos than they do middle fingers. We need to strengthen his resolve with our gratitude. And contact your Congress critters too and tell them to have the courage to protect our civil rights.
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