Richard Ivan Mack (born 1952) is the former sheriff of Graham County, Arizona and a political activist. He is known for his role in a successful lawsuit brought against the federal government of the United States which alleged that portions of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act violated the United States Constitution. He is a former lobbyist for Gun Owners of America (GOA) and a two-time candidate for United States Congress. Mack is also the founder of Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA), and established the “County Sheriff Project” movement, both of whom reaffirm the constitutional power to refuse to enforce federal laws.
Mack v. United States
Mack served as Graham County Sheriff from 1988 to 1996. In 1994 he was recruited by the National Rifle Association as a plaintiff in one of nine lawsuits against the Clinton administration over the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act.
Mack v. United States (later restyled to Printz v. United States), a lawsuit against the federal government which alleged that portions of the Act violated the United States Constitution, because they comprised a congressional action that compelled state officers to execute Federal law. These portions were interim provisions until a national instant background check system for gun purchasers could be implemented. In a 5–4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the provisions of the Brady Act in question were, in fact, unconstitutional.
Mack opposes all gun control laws, telling the program News21, “I studied what the Founding Fathers meant about the Second Amendment, the right to keep and bear arms, and the conclusion is inescapable. There’s no way around it. Gun control in America is against the law.”
Oath Keepers and Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association
In 2011 Mack founded the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA). The organization has a mission similar to Oath Keepers, encouraging members to refuse to enforce laws that they believe are unconstitutional.
Mack is also on the board of Oath Keepers, a far-right patriot organisation known for its controversial presence during the Ferguson unrest and for supporting Cliven Bundy in his standoff against the federal government. In April, 2014, Mack asserted that as part of the citizen response to the Bundy standoff that the Oath Keepers were “…actually strategizing to put all the women up at the front. If they’re gonna start shooting, it’s going to be women that are gonna be televised all across the world getting shot by these rogue federal officers.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center included both CSPOA and Oath Keepers on its list of 1,096 anti-government “patriot” groups active in 2013. Mack announced in 2011 that he was initiating a lawsuit against the Southern Poverty Law Center for libel, slander, and defamation.
Campaigns for Congress
Mack ran as a Libertarian candidate for United States Senate in Arizona in 2006 against incumbent Jon Kyl, a Republican, but finished in the general election with 3% of the votes.
In 2012, Mack opposed 13-term Representative Lamar Smith, who introduced and sponsored the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act legislation, in the House election Republican primary for Texas’s 21st Congressional district. The primary was held on May 29. Mack lost, receiving 14.78% (10,111) of the votes.
On December 13, 2014, Mack announced his candidacy for Navajo County Sheriff. In his announcement, he said, “We’re gonna make it a constitutional county and show everybody the blueprint for freedom. And there’s a lot more people running for other offices than me. I just said I’d run for sheriff. We’re going to give this one more try. The election is in 2016. I’m going to be moving there in spring of 2015 so I can start getting ready for this. You have about a year and a half to decide. And I’m dead serious about this. If I can move there, so can you.” He lost that election to Democratic incumbent Kelly Clarke by around a 10-point margin.
Law enforcement career
Mack spent eleven years with the police department of Provo, Utah, and then moved back to Arizona to run for Graham County Sheriff in 1988. While serving as sheriff, he attended the FBI National Academy and graduated in 1992.
In January 2015 he suffered a heart attack and his wife became ill in late 2014. Because he and his wife are self-employed they do not have insurance to pay for their medical bills. As a result, friends of the Macks have started a GoFundMe site on their behalf, asking to donate money to help pay for their medical expenses.
Mack has authored several books relating to gun laws, ownership and the role that law enforcement should play in America:
- The County Sheriff: America’s Last Hope
- The Proper Role of Law Enforcement
- From My Cold Dead Fingers: Why America Needs Guns with Timothy Robert Walters (1994) ISBN 096419354X
- The Naked Spy: His Mission Began the Day He Died (2005)
- The Magic of Gun Control (2011), ISBN 0984885609
- Are You a David? (2014), ISBN 0984885617
- “‘No’ Sheriff in Town: Some Lawmen Refuse to Enforce Federal Gun Laws”. NBC News. Retrieved 2016-05-20.
- Scalia. “Printz v. United States, 521 U.S. 898 (1997)”. Law.cornell.edu. Retrieved 2016-05-20.
- “Printz v. United States“. Justia. Retrieved August 31, 2012.
- “Sheriff on strategy to put women at front lines”. YouTube. 2014-04-14. Retrieved 2016-05-20.
- “Sheriff Mack Announces Lawsuit Against SPLC, Run for Congress”. Thenewamerican.com. 2011-12-14. Retrieved 2016-05-20.
- Chasmar, Jessica (5 April 2014). “Former sheriff willing to let wife, daughters die on front lines of Bundy ranch”. Washington Times. Retrieved 10 May 2016.
- “Richard Mack Announces Plan for ‘Constitutional’ Takeover of Arizona’s Navajo County.” YouTube. YouTube, 16 Dec. 2014. Web. 14 Aug. 2015. YouTube
- Navajo County (November 8, 2016). “Election Summary Report, General Election, Navajo County, Complete Un-Official Results, November 8, 2016” (PDF).
- Ryan Lenz (2012-11-11). “Former Arizona Sheriff Richard Mack Seeks ‘Army’ of Sheriffs to Resist Federal Authority | Southern Poverty Law Center”. Splcenter.org. Retrieved 2016-05-20.
- Date information sourced from Library of Congress Authorities data, via corresponding WorldCat Identities linked authority file (LAF).
- “2012 Sheriff Richard Mack for Congress”. Sheriffmackforcongress.com. Archived from the original on May 6, 2012. Retrieved 2016-05-20.
- “Uninsured Ex-Sheriff Who Fought O-care Struggles To Pay Medical Bills”. Talkingpointsmemo.com. 2015-02-27. Retrieved 2016-05-20.
- Richard Mack’s official website
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Willies, Egberto (February 28, 2015). “Anti-Obamacare uninsured ex-sheriff now begging for handout for medical bills”. egbertowillies.com.