Four days ago, on March 5, 2019, Hawaii became the first state in the “union” to openly call for Congress to repeal the Second Amendment.
As the Left’s gun-control drumbeats grow every louder and more insistent, a Kentucky sheriff’s shocking words are a timely warning to Americans of the critical importance of the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms.
John Kirk, 50, is the sheriff of Martin County, a hardscrabble Appalachian community in Kentucky.
The county is one of a swath of rural mountain communities struggling to maintain essential public services as coal mines shutter, leaving them with dwindling jobs, residents and taxes. In the last decade, Martin County’s population has dropped from about 13,000 to 11,500 as the number of workers employed by coal companies fell from 866 to 57. The county’s per capita income is $14,900; more than a third of residents live below the poverty line.
On February 4, 2019, the Martin County Fiscal Court approved the sheriff’s budget of $140,000. But the county doesn’t have the money because of $1.4 million in debt inherited from the previous administration. “I don’t sleep well,” said Susan Hale, the county’s new treasurer, who is sifting through the bills left by the previous administration, including $230,000 to a regional jail that houses the county’s inmates, $140,000 to a state association that provides liability insurance, plus dribs and drabs for mundane items such as office supplies and toilet paper.
Roger Preece, 57, a county magistrate who took office at the beginning of this year, said: “We love our sheriff, but we just ain’t got the money. If you ain’t got it, you ain’t got it.”
Although the county sheriff’s department is budgeted for $140,000, Sheriff Kirk had not received a $75,000 payment from the fiscal court — half the annual amount promised by the previous administration for fiscal 2018 — which should have been delivered in January. In addition, the department is now required to pay for its own workers’ compensation insurance, retirement, and social security benefits. Those obligations, along with unemployment insurance and fringe benefits, add an additional $99,000 to the department’s annual expenditures.
As a result, Kirk announced he has temporarily ceased all law enforcement services provided by his office. The department’s office hours are reduced to 8 a.m. through noon on weekdays. Kirk laid off the office bookkeeper and reduced the staff to only himself; a deputy, Aaron Blevins; an office manager; a court security officer; and two bailiffs — for a county of 231 sq. miles. Kirk’s wife, Regina, manages payroll and files financial reports for the office free of charge in the evenings and on weekends.
In a post on his personal Facebook page, Sheriff Kirk delivered a grim warning to residents of Martin County:
“The state police will have to answer all complaints . . . as there are only two of us. Law enforcement as we have known for the last four years will not exist. I’m very sorry to tell you this but I want the fine folks of this county to know the truth. WE ARE BROKE… LOCK YOUR DOORS, LOAD YOUR GUNS AND GET YOU A BARKING, BITING DOG. If the Sheriff’s office can’t protect you, WHO WILL?
We didn’t get this broke overnight and we won’t rebound overnight. Pray that the Lord will lead us and guide us through this terrible time . . . . I have worked 16 to 18 hours a day myself to try to serve you, But I too must sleep a few hours. The law requires the Sheriff to collect taxes, Bailiff court and serve papers. We have always provided police protection but without the funding we can no longer do this. I’m very sorry and I apologize to the employees and to the citizens of our county. I am truly sorry.”
Kirk has felt shorthanded for much of his four years as sheriff. He has rationed gas, cut back on patrols, and stopped providing security at ballgames. At times, his deputies have worn uniforms with holes in them and driven cruisers with tires worn through to the steel belts.
The sheriff is not the only public servant feeling the pinch:
- Key county roads are rife with potholes.
- The road and bridges department tries to make do with rusty excavators, dump trucks and salt trucks.
- The county’s only grader languishes in a parking lot, in pieces, because the county cannot afford the $10,000 to fix it.
- Water pipes across the county are crumbling, causing the district to lose more than two-thirds of treated water to leaks and allowing untreated groundwater to seep into the water supply. Many residents limit their use of tap water to flushing toilets; most buy bottled water for drinking and cooking.
Many locals blame former county officials for being slow to react to the sharp drop in tax revenue and exacerbating the problems with poor financial decisions, such as a 25-year loan in 2013 to erect a massive government building that requires a monthly payment of $55,000.
While coal’s steep decline is largely a result of less expensive natural gas, many residents are critical of the Obama administration for imposing federal regulations on coal-fired power plants in an effort to cut pollution and move toward cleaner energy sources like wind and solar power. County treasurer Susan Hale said: “Our entire economy was decimated by federal policies. Now we have to live with it.”
Some elected officials who represent the region are calling on the state and federal government to deliver more assistance. State Rep. Chris Harris, a Democrat who represents Martin and neighboring Pike County, said: “These communities fueled the industrial revolution and powered our country through two world wars, but now they’re struggling, there doesn’t appear to be any help on the horizon. If the nation is going to put regulations on our only industry, to make it impossible or unprofitable, shouldn’t it also offer new opportunities?”
As news of the sheriff’s financial strain has spread, Kirk has received some help:
- A small band of volunteer deputies — many retirees — acts as back-up in the evenings and offers court security.
- The Kentucky State Police, which has eight troopers assigned to an area that includes Martin and several other counties, picks up some of the slack by taking emergency phone calls that the sheriff cannot handle.
- Residents have also pitched in: a gas station owner donated $1,000 to fill up police SUVs and cruisers; a church raised $500; people donated paper for the office copy machine; a man handed Sheriff Kirk a $20 bill and said: “Here. I want to help you.” Kirk said: “Man, I don’t want your money. That’s why we pay taxes!” The man threw the bill in Kirk’s lap and walked away.
Michael T. Snyder of TMIN observes:
As economic conditions continue to deteriorate, we are going to hear a lot more stories like this all over the country.
And the truth is that things will ultimately be far worse in our major cities than in our rural areas.
Just take a look at Chicago. Today it is a war zone, and the growing poverty in the city has fueled the rapid growth of criminal gangs.
According to a study conducted at the University of Illinois at Chicago, approximately half of the city was considered to be “middle income” in 1970, but now that number has dropped to just 16 percent….
Right now, there are about 12,000 law enforcement officers and more than 100,000 gang members in the city of Chicago.
That means that the gang members outnumber the police by an almost 10 to 1 margin.
Things are not quite as bad in other major cities, but trouble is definitely brewing. For example, the murder rate in New York City is up 37 percent so far this year, and more gang members are moving in with each passing day.
Philadelphia has also seen the murder rate rise substantially…351 murders in 2018, up 43% since 2013, and the highest level since 2007….
If things are this bad already, what are things going to look like when economic conditions get really bad?….
If we are not able to reverse course as a nation, you may want to take Sheriff Kirk’s advice and “lock your doors, load your guns and get you a barking, biting dog”.
- Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that Second Amendment applies to individuals, not militias, and may include military weapons
- Nearly half of all Democrats want to ban hand guns
- Pro-gun control CDC suppresses its research data on defensive gun use
- DOJ rule will reclassify bump stocks as machine guns in de facto ban
- Illinois State Assembly approves gun confiscation bill
- Retired Supreme Court Justice Stevens calls for repeal of Second Amendment
- Democrat senator Ben Cardin calls for abolishing private gun ownership
- Democrat sheriff candidate Daryl Fisher ‘jokes’ about killing legal gun owners if they resist confiscation
- New York Times wants banks and credit card companies to monitor and ban gun purchases
- Esquire magazine: We really do want to take your guns
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