Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Extreme Pro-Gun Sheriff Arrested for Violent Assault And Strangulation

Back last spring, when Oregon legislators were working to pass Senate Bill 941 to require background checks for all gun sales in the state, including private sales (which passed in May and was enacted in August, much to the relief of most law enforcement), a small number of rural sheriffs said that they would refuse to enforce the law (against the oath that they took), and a number of county commissions in rural counties said they would not fund the law (also against the oath they took).

The extremist group, Oregon Firearms Federation, led the charge in encouraging these sheriffs and county commissions.

Sheriff Skrah speaks against keeping
guns out of criminal hands (source)
One of those sheriffs was Klamath County Sheriff Frank Skrah.  Klamath County commissioners condemned the background check law by passing a resolution.  O.F.F. was happy to report that Sheriff Skrah testified in support of the pro-gun resolution.  From an article:

“I will not be taking away guns from anybody. I will not be going out and confiscating guns,” said Klamath County Sheriff Frank Skrah. “People have the right to bear arms, and I will not abridge that right to bear arms. Ever. I’ll say it again: ever.”
Just to be clear, Sheriff Skrah is saying he will refuse to uphold his oath and enforce a law that he, personally, doesn't like, and won't be "confiscating guns" -- even if the person purchasing the guns has failed a background check!  Yes, you read that right.  If a person purchases a gun in a private sale, and fails a background check or refuses to have a background check (such as if they were a felon or dangerously mentally ill), Sheriff Skrah would refuse to arrest them or take their gun away.

Just another way that the pro-gun forces were willing to encourage criminal behavior.  Sadly, Oregon is no stranger to pro-gun, insurrectionist rural sheriffs.

Skrah released a statement railing against the background check bill and intrusion by "Big Brother."  Excerpts from his statement:

While I, as Sheriff of Klamath County, support keeping guns out of the hands of “CRIMINALS” this legislation (SB–941) appears to be nothing more than a further infringement upon those who wish to exercise their Second Amendment Rights.  
"Some may disagree with me, but I feel “Big Brother” need not know who owns a firearm. 
"We don’t need new laws to check the background of those who have the legal right to own a gun. We conduct background checks on those who “carry” (Concealed Carry Handgun Permits) and we do a very good job in that endeavor.  
"Upping the ante and requiring more Government Intrusion is not needed and not wanted by the vast majority of good hard working folks.  
"If I sell or give a gun to my neighbor should I or my neighbor be subject to a background check? My answer to that rhetorical question is a very firm NO! 
"Typical of government is to stack another law upon us!   Folks in Salem: ….. We have that little obscure document called the United States Constitution.  
"It might be good for those in the state Legislature (as well as Washington D.C.) to look at that document.   Read down to the Second Amendment: The right (our right) to keep and bear arms! ….. Without bureaucrats trying to make more decisions for us. I, as the Sheriff of Klamath County, will use the laws that are presently on the books to do my job.

Sadly, his love of guns has clouded his judgement.  He says he "supports" keeping guns out of criminal hands, but how is a gun seller to know if the buyer is a criminal without a background check?  And not all buyers have conceal carry permits or are a neighbor of Skrah.  And though he purports to be an expert in the Constitution, the Supreme Court has already stated in the Heller decision that background checks and other regulations are not unconstitutional (and Skrah, as with most pro-gun zealots, seems to forget the "well-regulated" part of the Second Amendment).  It is also not the role of sheriffs or county commissions to determine what is constitutional or not.  That's for the courts to decide.
Well, that was in April.  Flash forward to this month....
Now Sheriff Skrah has been charged with nine counts of violent crime by a grand jury, including assault and strangulation.  From an article:
A Klamath County grand jury charged Skrah with a total of nine counts, including three counts of harassment, three counts of official misconduct in the first degree, one count of attempted assault in the fourth degree, one count of assault in the fourth degree and one count of strangulation. .... 
The charges came after the Oregon Department of Justice launched an investigation in April into allegations Skrah had used excessive force against a suspect. Seven of the department's 30 deputies asked to be placed on paid leave after they were questioned about Skrah by state investigators. ... 
Sheriff Skrah's mugshot (source)
The charges stem from Skrah's dealings with three men, James Johnson, Kenneth Bragg and Jason Charles. In three separate incidents, Skrah allegedly held a flashlight against Johnson's throat on Feb. 11, 2013; he allegedly hit Charles on Jan. 14, 2014; and prosecutors claim he choked Bragg on Feb. 27, 2015. 
The Oregonian first reported the the Skrah investigation involved reports he had used excessive force, including hitting a handcuffed suspect, on Aug. 25.
The indictment also alleges Skrah failed to notify and compensate a local resident after one of his deputies had damaged their property.

Of course, Skrah denies all charges, like criminals often do.  

There is also a concern about him "for workplace harassment and retaliation by the Sheriff."

Should we be surprised?  Based on his pro-gun testimony, I'm guessing that Sheriff Skrah owns a great many guns.  According to a Washington Post report, those who own a large number of guns are significantly more likely to have explosive anger issues.

Well, he may not be able to own his guns anymore, after this.  Will the next Sheriff allow Skrah to purchase guns without a background check, too?

Let's hope that Klamath County has learned its lesson and will replace Skrah with a more reasonable Sheriff who is more peaceful and is willing to uphold the law, including enforcement of background checks for all gun sales.