Humboldt County Deputy District Attorney Kevin Pasquale (left) and Sheriff Mike Allen field questions from the audience at the Sheriff’s town hall meeting.
Humboldt County Deputy District Attorney Kevin Pasquale (left) and Sheriff Mike Allen field questions from the audience at the Sheriff’s town hall meeting.
Humboldt County Sheriff Mike Allen held a townhall meeting forum, inviting the citizens of Humboldt County to address the public’s concern regarding recently passed firearm legislation. According to the sheriff’s flyer for the event, the “meeting is intended to be an open dialogue where the sheriff can meet with members of the community to discuss their concerns and his position pertaining to these laws.” 

According to the Second Amendment group leader Dawn Principe, Humboldt residents have repeatedly asked for a meeting with the sheriff’s office to discuss the firearm legislation but that he has sidestepped the request each time. “If you really cared about our community,” Principe said, “and this law (Sheriff Allen) should have had this meeting a long time ago.”

The meeting was held Sept. 24 at the Winnemucca Convention Center and lasted approximately two hours. About 300 people attended with a dozen people voicing their concerns regarding the Nevada Legislature’s 2019 session which saw AB 291 passed and in which Governor Sisolak signed on June 17.

In addition to Allen, other members of the sheriff’s office were in attendance including Undersheriff Kevin Malone and Capt. Sean Wilkin. 

“Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been hearing a lot of rumors and misinformation,” Sheriff Allen began. He said the goals of the forum were to clarify information about the new law and discuss action citizens can take to redress their grievances to repeal the law. 

“First of all, we’re not going to take anybody’s guns. That’s the number one rumor that we’ve heard — the sheriff’s coming to take our guns,” Allen said. “That’s not true.”

Allen went on to explain there is a process in place with several steps that need to take place before seizing weapons can take place. He said the sheriff’s office’s major concern is high risk individuals who may be a danger to themselves and to others. He used the recent incident in Oklahoma woman was arrested after she bought an AK-47 and threatened her former high school. Allen said Oklahoma law enforcement arrested the woman for making terrorists threats. He said the woman communicated a threat through Facebook, people saw the post and law enforcement were called in to investigate and then arrested her.

Who interprets the Constitution

Questions of constitutionality were raised by many in the audience, at which time Humboldt County Deputy District Attorney Kevin Pasquale was asked to speak. “I don’t think it’s a secret to anyone in this room that this legislature dominated by Las Vegas is anti-gun.” However, Pasquale went on to say that “we’re not the ones who get to decide if a law is unconstitutional. A judge has to decide it’s unconstitutional.” 

The audience erupted in disagreement with  Pasquale’s statement. One audience member shouted, “The Constitution tells us what’s constitutional.”

Pasquale fired back, “The judges interpret what is constitutional; that’s what the Constitution says.”

In fact, any court in the US may review and determine the constitutionality of laws relevant to a case before the court. The Supreme Court of the United States, however, is the ultimate authority on the US Constitution, and makes the final decision.

Shortly thereafter, Principe’s group read a statement calling for Allen’s resignation. “Sheriff Allen, we elected you with the confidence that you would stand and protect not only the citizens but your oath of office and the Constitution. The most concerning statement you have made is that you would risk the safety of Humboldt County citizens and your Deputies to enforce laws, you yourself, claim to be unconstitutional … In our opinion, as supporters of the Second Amendment and Humboldt County citizens, you no longer represent the voters nor the United States or Nevada constitutions. We feel your stance is not consistent with the values and beliefs needed to maintain your position as Sheriff of Humboldt County. We would like to give you the opportunity to honorably resign as Sheriff of Humboldt County immediately, otherwise we will begin formal action to remove you beginning November 1.”

Allen continued to field questions from the audience ranging from his position on the right to due process to his moral stance on enforcing immoral and unconstitutional laws. 

One audience member stood up and asked the sheriff which master does he intend to serve. “Who do you serve? Do you serve the government, or do you serve the inalienable rights of law-abiding citizens? … In our culture war we cannot trust the judges to do due process … will you use your moral judgement, when a judge gives you an order … at the risk of your job, are you going to (tell) the judge this and say this is a bad call and I’m not going to do it?”

Allen responded by saying if the situation were properly investigated and “I totally disagreed, I’d go back to the judge and say this isn’t right.  That’s the way this would have to work.”

That same resident followed up by stating that Allen was asking citizens to answer and clarify. “You’re asking us to trust you to make the best judgment call in that moment rather than telling us what your judgment is.” He pointed out that humans are fallible in judgment including the sheriff. 

Allen responded by saying there is a legal process that the sheriff’s office must take in order to carry out an order, adding that if he violated a court order he would be arrested. The resident continued his position by saying, “This isn’t about legislation; it is about morality. You all have the choice … to say what is my moral standard and is my moral standard going to protect innocent people.”

“Of course, we’re going to protect innocent people,” Allen said. 

The speaker asked under what standard and Allen replied, “Under the standard of law” to which the speaker said, “if you cannot say no to your employer, you are not living by your moral standard.”

It was clear the audience was frustrated with Allen’s refusal to clearly state his position. Allen stated several times that how he would respond to any given situation depended on each set of unique circumstances and continued to reiterate that there is a process in place that must be followed to carry out a court order. 

One gentleman stood up and told the sheriff, “I don’t want to know about process. I don’t want to know about laws. I want to know where you stand as I voted for you. I voted for you. You represent me; I gave you your job.”

Capt. Wilkin speaks

Allen turned the floor over to Capt. Wilkin who is with the Humboldt County Sheriff’s office. He explained in thorough terms what the process is for repealing a state law. 

“We the people. Who do the government mean when they said ‘We, the people’ … who is ‘we’? … It’s everybody.”

Wilkin said legislation such as “red flag” laws were a concern of his. This legislation was pushed through on a ‘midnight’ agenda from Carson City to fit somebody else’s agenda. “They didn’t give we, the people … any information on this ahead of time.  We had no opportunity to oppose this legislature before it ever went out.”

He went on to explain that Nevadans can fight back against such actions through a veto referendum process so that pieces of questionable legislation return to the ballot. 

According to Wilkin, Humboldt County cannot declare laws unconstitutional nor can it nullify laws. He proposed a course of action that all the Second Amendment groups and rural local governments band together in opposition, suggesting that strength in numbers linked to solidarity in values and beliefs could stand up to juggernaut counties such as Clark, Washoe and Carson City. 

Wilkin encouraged those who seek redress to take up the veto referendum process. When asked if he would be signing such a petition he responded, “I would gladly sign this petition.”