Libertarian Sheriff Calls for Simple Rules
by Ari Armstrong
[The following article originally appeared in the March/April 2001 edition of Colorado Liberty.]
140 members of the Pro Second Amendment Committee rose to their feet to applaud "Liberty Bill" Masters, the nation's only Libertarian Sheriff. The San Miguel County lawman addressed the Grand Junction group for its Eleventh Annual Awards Banquet March 10. Masters noted the links between the drug war and gun war and called for simplified laws.
"The palladium of liberty, the shield of liberty, is the Second Amendment," Masters said, quoting a judicial opinion. Yet our civil liberties are interrelated. "Have you taken up your duty, not just to guard the Second Amendment, but are you truly the protector of the beautiful but fragile lady we call Liberty?"
The annual banquet raises funds for the group and recognizes winners of a student essay contest. Board member Linn Armstrong, who served as MC during the evening, also recognized members of the Committee for their work in firearms safety classes. The group offers two NRA-affiliated classes each month. Since 1993 the group has trained around 3,000 gun owners. Armstrong noted that such training is crucial for "winning the hearts and minds" of the public.
Masters noted Jefferson's advice to "let your gun be the constant companion of your walks." Young goat herder Zeke Hernandez took Jefferson's advice to heart and carried along a .22 rifle, a gift from his grandfather, on his family's ranch in Texas. Unfortunately, United States military agents mistook Zeke for a drug runner and shot and killed him.
"We are in a war, a war on drugs. And during a time of war, innocent people get in the way sometimes," Masters said. "People's rights have to be placed on the back burner."
Masters argued that just laws are those which "protect lives and property." Masters predicted a government that fights a war on people who possess a plant like marijuana will tend to target other classes of non-violent persons. "The peaceful, law-abiding, American gun owner is next," he warned.
The key to good government is to maintain and enforce a few crucial laws, Masters suggested. Whereas Colorado legislation used to fit in a single volume, it now "takes twelve volumes, and I don't think any of us feel any safer."
Moses brought four words about theft down from Mount Sinai, "Thou shalt not steal." That principle, noted Masters, "is now Colorado Revised Statutes 18-4-401 through 18-4-416. It is over 24,000 words long, and if you really don't want to be a victim of theft you still need a car alarm, house alarm, 25 keys and a digital credit card."
Masters argued for a consistent advocacy of civil liberties. "Liberty is a harsh mistress. You cannot pick and choose what you like and dislike about her. Liberty will not change her principles for you. She will stand fast and demand total acceptance."
Masters' web page is at libertybill.net.