Humboldt County, Nevada Sheriff Mike Allen says he he opposes the state’s new “red flag” law allowing family members to petition a court to have someone’s firearms taken from them if a judge determines they’re a threat to themselves or others.  Sheriff Allen says, however, that he’ll be enforcing the law when it takes effect in January 2020. Now, a group of Second Amendment-supporting residents in Humboldt County say they’re launching a campaign to recall the sheriff because he’s not standing up for their rights.

“They’re taking up a fight against me on something the Legislature has to do, and they think I have the authority not to follow the law,” Allen said in an interview Wednesday with The Nevada Independent. “I do oppose this law. However, it’s my not my job to oppose a law; my job is to enforce the law.”

Commissions in Humboldt County approved a resolution earlier this month declaring the rural northern Nevada a “Second Amendment Supporting County“, but the language is more vague than what we’ve seen from other counties, where commissioners have actually directed that no public funds will be spent to enforce laws that infringe on the right to keep and bear arms.

Dawn Principe, who owns a gun store in Humboldt County, is helping to lead the recall efforts, which have 90 days to gather a little more than 500 signatures in the county of 16,000 people.

As they collect signatures, Principe says the Humboldt recall group members have been working with Stand Up Nevada, which plans to file to recall Gov. Steve Sisolak for his support of the new gun legislation. The group also is working with Nevadans Citizen Action Network, which is raising money to get an injunction to stop AB291— the bill that includes the red flag provisions and bans accessories such as high-capacity magazines and bump stocks.

Sheriff Allen, meanwhile, says he’s not sure what he can do to address the concerns of residents, because he’s bound to uphold the laws in the state.

“They’re taking up a fight against me on something the Legislature has to do, and they think I have the authority not to follow the law,” Allen said in an interview Wednesday with The Nevada Independent. “I do oppose this law. However, it’s my not my job to oppose a law; my job is to enforce the law.”

Sheriff Allen is right, but he’s also ignoring the fact that law enforcement has a great deal of discretion when it comes to enforcement. In southern Nevada, for example, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo has said his office won’t arrest people who sell small amounts of cannabis, even if they’re unlicensed. Of course, choosing not to enforce a law is a little different than not enforcing a court order. Still, there are other sheriffs around the country, including Weld County, Colorado Sheriff Steve Reams, who say they won’t enforce any “red flag” orders, even if it means facing charges themselves.

If I were Sheriff Allen I’d be working with other sheriffs around the state, as well as my county commissioners, to ready a legal challenge to Nevada’s “red flag” law once it takes effect. In the meantime, I’d use the existing language of the red flag law to not enforce any search warrants empowering deputies to enter homes and seize firearms. Under the terms of the new law, officers tasked with serving a search warrant and seizing firearms do not have to try to seize the firearms if “the health or safety of the officer or the adverse party is put at risk because of any action of the adverse party, the law enforcement officer is under no duty to continue to attempt to execute the search warrant and the execution of the warrant shall be deemed unsuccessful.” I’d argue that any attempt to seize someone’s firearms through a “red flag” court order puts the health or safety of officers at risk, and the Sheriff’s office won’t be a party to them.

It sounds to me like the residents in Humboldt County who are leading the recall efforts want to hear their sheriff talk about how he’s going to fight the law he says opposes, not how he’s going to enforce it. Hopefully we’ll see a united front on the part of several sheriffs and the other “Second Amendment sanctuary” counties to challenge the red flag law in court, but in the meantime these sheriffs should expect to face judgment of their own in the court of public opinion.