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The War On Drugs Is A War On People
by Sheriff Bill Masters
"Do you stand beside those who are harassed and arrested because of the color of their skin? Do you sit back while your neighbors are dragged off in the middle of the night for what they choose to put into their bodies? Do you honorably and respectfully uphold the rights of others to speak their truth no matter how opposed it is to yours? And do you oppose excessive taxes even if their proceeds would line your pockets?"

Bill Masters has been Sheriff of San Miguel County, Telluride, Colorado,for over 20 years.

Speech addressed to the Pro Second Amendment Committee, Grand Junction,

Colorado, March 10, 2023.

By Sheriff Bill Masters

I am really proud to be an American. We don't say that often enough today.

I thought of this when I was watching the news last week and they were interviewing one of the former directors of the CIA. They were talking about the FBI agent who was a spy for the Russians for 15 years. The reporter was

questioning the director about how we could prevent such an incident in the future -- should they use polygraphs on all the agents, better background investigations, and different investigative techniques? And the director had

an interesting response. He stated the best defense against these kinds of spies is to have spies in the foreign service of our enemy's government. In that way, foreigners who are spying for the United States could tell us when

our adversaries have spies in our government. He went on to say that American traitors, like this FBI agent, who spy on our country usually do so for money and seldom do it for philosophical reasons; whereas the foreigners that volunteer to spy for the US on their governments usually do so out of a philosophical belief that the principles the United States represents are superior to those of the government of their homeland.

He then stated, and this is the important part, " Thomas Jefferson is still our best recruiter. At times tonight, I am going to bore you with some Jefferson.

A strong body makes a strong mind. As to the species of exercise I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body it gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind. Let your gun, therefore, be the constant companion of your walks. (Thomas Jefferson)

Zeke Hernandez's family are proud Americans. They have a small ranch along the Rio Grande bordering Mexico, near the Texas town of Redford, population 100. The land there is poor, dry, mostly overgrown desert foliage and weeds.

Zeke, he's a sophomore at the local high school, probably not going to Harvard, but known as a nice boy and well liked by his classmates.

Zeke likes to raise goats on his father's ranch. He enjoys the responsibility, like many his age, of caring for the animals. Every day, after school, he takes the goats out of their pens and herds them on the ranch, allowing them to forage on the scrub desert plants that only a goat would enjoy. Years ago, Zeke was given an antique .22 caliber rifle by his grandfather. Now, when herding his goats, he always takes the little .22 with him to do some plinking and fend off the coyotes or wild dogs that come up to prey upon the goats.

But on this day, Zeke doesn't see four US Marines assigned to Joint Task Force Six drug interdiction team. The plinking Zeke and his goats stumble into the camouflaged Marines' ambush formation. The Marines, doing nothing more than what they are trained to do, without warning, shoot and kill Zeke, thereby eliminating an armed threat to their mission of policing United States soil.

Let your gun be your constant companion.

Donald Scott, age 62, was a wealthy man. He lived on a beautiful 250-acre ranch in California, which bordered a federal park. The feds wanted to buy his ranch to include in the park, but Mr. Scott was not interested in selling. Federal agents flew over the house and claimed they saw marijuana growing on the property. They obtained a search warrant for the ranch.

In the early morning hours of the next day, a pounding on the door to their home awakened Mr. Scott and his wife Frances. When Mrs. Scott attempted to open the door, a group of narcotics task force deputies burst into the house with guns in their hands. Mrs. Scott was pushed forcefully to the ground, a gun aimed at her head. She pleaded, Please don't shoot me. Hearing his wife's pleas, Mr. Scott armed himself with a revolver and ran out of his bedroom, only to be shot and killed instantly by the raiding officers. No marijuana plants or drugs of any kind were found on the Scott property.

Sixty-nine year old Ralph Garrison of New Mexico was awakened before sunrise one morning after hearing someone trying to break into the rental house next door that he owned. Knowing his tenants were out of town, he went outside to investigate. He saw a group of armed men on his property wearing dark clothing and black masks. He returned to his house and called 911. According to the reporters who listened to those 911 tapes, Mr. Garrison's voice is filled with fear and panic.

Garrison then armed himself with a pistol and a cell phone and went to his back door to wait for the police to arrive. Three members of a police SWAT team who were busy breaking down the door of Mr. Garrison's unoccupied rental house immediately shot 12 rounds from their AR-15 assault rifles intoMr. Garrison as he stood in his own doorway. He was killed instantly. Police in Texas were using a paid informant to buy $30 worth of drugs. The informant claimed he had purchased drugs at Annie Rae Dixon's house. The police raided the home, shot, and killed the 84 year old bedridden Mrs. Dixon. No illegal drugs were found in her home.

Ismael Mena from Mexico, father of nine, came to the United States legally for work to support his family. He worked night shift at the Coca-Cola bottling plant. He was in his bedroom sleeping during the day, when the Denver police department SWAT team raided his apartment after obtaining a no knock search warrant for drugs. Mr. Mena, awakened by the black-clothed officers breaking down his door, armed himself with a .22 caliber pistol.

Officers stormed into his bedroom and ordered him to drop the pistol. He started to drop the pistol; then, according to the SWAT team, he questioned, Polica? He was immediately shot in the head and chest, at which point, according to the officers, he reached for the gun again and in fact discharged the gun, but was shot six more times and killed. No illegal drugs were found in Mena's home.

Investigation revealed the police raided the wrong house. The narcotics officer in charge of the case, according to district attorney Dave Thomas, made false statements, knowing they were false, in order to obtain the search warrant. The officer was charged with three felonies, including perjury.

However, he was allowed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor so he could retain his job as a police officer in Denver. He was recently given nine months of back pay, almost $40,000, and reinstated as a police officer for the city of Denver.

Regarding the controversy over the officer's reinstatement, Denver Mayor Wellington Webb stated, Mr. Mena would still be alive today if he just didn't have a gun.

Let your gun be your constant companion.

Now, I have 30 or so more cases I could continue to bore you with. I could talk about 11-year-old Alberto Sulpuveda, unarmed, lying face down on the floor of his bedroom as ordered by a SWAT team, shot in the back and killed with a 12-gauge.

I am talking about kids, old ladies, completely innocent people, shot and killed not by gangs, not by robbers or drug dealers, schoolyard shooters or kids playing with guns, but by those sworn to protect our lives.

One police bureaucrat stated these shootings were unintentional but not mistakes.

And then we have the gall, to put it politely, to tell you we need a law to force you to put trigger locks on your guns.

There is a reason why we are allowing these shootings to happen. We are in a war, a war on drugs. And during a time of war, innocent people get in the way sometimes. People's rights have to be placed on the back burner.

It is interesting to me that most of us concerned about the erosion of the Second Amendment have all heard of Ruby Ridge and Waco, but because it was a drug raid we calmly accept the deaths of ranchers, businessmen, old ladies,

children and even innocent goatherders. A Supreme Court justice once defined the Second Amendment as the palladium of liberty.

That word he used, palladium, refers to the statue Pallas Athena, whose preservation was believed to ensure the safety of the ancient Greek city of Troy. To the people of Troy, the statue was a shield, a safeguard against their enemies, and as long as she stood guard no harm could come to them.

My question to you is: Have you taken up your duty, not just to guard the Second Amendment, but are you truly the shield, the protector, of the beautiful but fragile lady we call liberty?

Do you stand beside those who are harassed and arrested because of the color of their skin? Do you sit back while your neighbors are dragged off in the middle of the night for what they choose to put into their bodies? Do you honorably and respectfully uphold the rights of others to speak their truth no matter how opposed it is to yours? And do you oppose excessive taxes even if their proceeds would line your pockets?

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, no matter how much you claim to love her. She will stand fast in her demands for total acceptance. If you can't receive her, she will recognize you as a false lover and leave you. And when you hear that door slam, it will take every tear in your eye, every ounce of blood in your veins, and all the nerve in your heart to win her back.

Now, being a Libertarian, I have a problem with the drug war. Personally, I just don't care what people put into their bodies. I care about their actions. If they hurt or endanger someone, if they violate someone's property, they should be held accountable to the law. And the law's reaction should be swift, severe and certain.

Instead of enforcing the laws that protect lives and property, last year we arrested 700,000 people for possession of marijuana. In the history of mankind it has never been documented that marijuana has ever caused the accidental, negligent or deliberate death of anyone. A government that can put over half a million of its citizens in jail every year for possessing a little relatively harmless plant can do anything it wants.

And I don't care who the president is, Republican or Democrat, the peaceful, law-abiding, American gun owner is next.

If you like the effectiveness of the war on drugs, 700,000 people arrested, 30 billion dollars a year, more police cars, more courts, more jail cells and drugs on every street, government school and even in the prisons, you are going to just love the war on firearms.

A few years back we were remodeling the old jail in Telluride. When the jail was constructed, in the late 1800s, the builders first made the iron cellblock, which included solid metal walls with bar cell doors. They then covered the exterior of the cells with a wall of thick stone. Consequently, there was a space between the iron cell walls and the stone walls of about six inches. Over the years, items which disappeared into this space had proven to be irretrievable. While our construction workers were removing the old cellblock they would at times come across a variety of items from the old� days that had fallen into this narrow space. It was a bit like a time capsule that revealed old newspapers, whiskey bottles, clothing, and pieces of china.

One day, one of the workers came up to me and handed me a book he found in the space. It was the Colorado Statutes of 1908. All the laws of the state fit in one volume. Today, Colorado has over thirty thousand laws filling 12 volumes, and of course predictably, lawlessness is commonplace.

There are 600 traffic laws alone. Think about that when you drive home tonight. And even with all these laws some people still drive like fools.

Our tax code is 500 times the size of the Constitution. It is so convoluted no one -- not the courts, juries, or IRS agents -- no one can tell you without some doubt what it all means. One agent told me that in some jurisdictions up to 50 percent of the people are just not filing any tax returns. They are living completely outside the system. Now, the biggest tax cheat of the century gets a pardon. Does all this make you feel like a chump when you write those checks to the government?

It appears to me the more broken the system, the more laws are passed to try and correct its deficiencies; in fact, the problem is the number of laws itself.

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation announced last year the Colorado Instant Check System stopped over 90 convicted murders from purchasing firearms from licensed dealers in Colorado.

As a peace officer, I think it is good these murderers are denied the right to purchase firearms. But in our efforts to correct one problem, murderers having firearms, we fail to recognize and address a much more fundamental problem. That being, of course, why in the hell are there 90 convicted murders out walking around on the streets of Colorado?

This extreme number of laws has blurred the criminal justice system's response in upholding them. Trying to identify the laws that are important becomes a nightmare for all involved in the system. Officers are required to carry around volumes of peace officer's manuals, law books, code books, and policy and procedure manuals -- all in an effort to perform a job that used to be done with a little bit of common sense.

The Bible tells us Moses walked up Mount Sinai and came down with 10 laws to live by, most of them about one sentence long. Moses' four words, or God's, depending on your level of faith, Thou shall not steal, 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.

Governor Johnson of New Mexico has a story he tells about an ancient city-state in Greece. This city-state practiced true democracy and allowed any citizen to propose a law to the council of all citizens who met on occasion in a large coliseum. The one restriction on proposed laws was that the citizen proposing a new law had to stand on a scaffold with a noose about� his neck while the law was being debated and voted on. If the citizens voted� the proposed new law down as being unnecessary, the citizen proposing the law� was immediately hung.

Moses and the ancient Greeks were onto something we have forgotten. Pass only� the laws that are really necessary. Keep them few in number, and make them� easy enough for a child to read and understand. If we took this simple advice� to heart, we would find new respect for, and honor in, our government and its� institutions.

The constitutions of most of our states assert that all power is inherent in the people. That it is their right and duty to be at all times, armed.

(Thomas Jefferson)

I have a book in my office that was given to me by a friend in Telluride who collects old books. The book was written by Sheriff Doc Shores of Gunnison County, and is called Memoirs of a Lawman. Doc was the sheriff in Gunnison from 1890 to 1900. His book is the fascinating story of his life as a sheriff in that era, here on the Western Slope of Colorado. Doc tells a story about how he became sheriff. One day, when he was on Main Street in Gunnison, he heard a number of gunshots. He turned and saw a couple of young punks riding down the street on horseback shooting wildly. A shopkeeper stepped out of his store to see what the commotion was about and was shot dead by the punks as they rode by.

Doc, always taking Jefferson to heart even though he was just a citizen, immediately grabbed his rifle, got on his horse and gave chase. In the ensuing gun battle Doc was able to capture the outlaws, and the people of Gunnison recognized him as a hero and elected him sheriff.

If you did the same thing today you would be labeled a nut case, if not arrested.

In another account, Doc recalls investigating a train robbery near Salida. Doc and that famous lawman, and sometimes outlaw, Tom Horn are given the job of capturing the train robbers. They arrive at the scene of the crime about three days after the event to find the tracks of the two horsemen they believe to be the outlaws. They take off at once to follow the tracks. It is a slow process through the mountains, following tracks one at a time.

After a few days they come across some people on the trail that tell them about a week earlier they had seen the robbers heading south. Knowing they are on the right trail, the two lawmen speed up a bit in an attempt to overtake the outlaws, who are a full seven days ahead of them. As they

continue their ride following the tracks they sleep at night outside in the mountains with nothing more than a blanket to cover themselves. They dig in the soil around abandoned homesteads looking for spuds to eat. They ride 14 hours or more a day in the saddle.

They follow the tracks for 43 days, through southern Colorado, into New Mexico and then Texas where they finally overtake the two outlaws. Without backup, bulletproof vests, automatic rifles or fire trucks to hide behind, like they bravely did at Columbine, Doc and Tom Horn apprehend the two armed and desperate outlaws and then turn around and bring them back to justice in Colorado.

I tell you those two stories about Doc because it demonstrates to me what a true citizen of a republic should be. One cannot tell the difference in the actions between Doc the citizen, who is always prepared to defend his community, rising to the challenge and fearlessly chasing the murdering punks, or Doc the sheriff, who bravely never gives up on the trail of the outlaws. Both citizen and sheriff, Doc knows his duty.

We are truly living in a peaceful time. A look at the old law books shows murder after murder in all our western communities with a fraction of the population we have today. I am not urging you to go about armed and looking for trouble. Many days I go to work as sheriff without a firearm. But I do want you all to be prepared to stand up, even if in voice only, to enforce the principles of liberty and responsibility. One does not exist without the other. Let us regain our lost responsibilities of educating our children, providing for our families, and defending ourselves.

Finally, let me leave you with the words of Thomas Jefferson, the symbol of American liberty to the world: A wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.

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