On the ground in Kansas, TAC member Glen Burdue reports:
Federal Judge Thomas Marten sentenced Shane Cox and Jeremy Kettler February 6, 2017. Cox for manufacturing and selling a silencer and other firearms without paying the federal license/tax and Kettler for possessing and using that silencer.
In 2013, the Kansas legislature passed the Second Amendment Protection Act and Governor Sam Brownback signed it with Attorney General Derek Schmidt as one of the witnesses. The bill originally required the Kansas Attorney General to prosecute any federal agent who committed the felony of acting against the law but it was watered down to say that he “may” prosecute federal agents. In effect the bill legalizes the manufacture and sale of firearms in Kansas without any federal licensing or restrictions so long as that firearm is not sold outside of Kansas.
When Cox and Kettler were arrested by federal agents, Attorney General Schmidt refused to take action against the federal agents and refused to intervene in the federal court case despite the urging of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and many others. Cox and Kettler were found guilty in a jury trial on November 14, 2016. Several citizens and 2 state legislators were on hand to show support of Cox, Kettler, and the Kansas law. One of the legislators was Represenative Mike Houser and the other was Senator John Rubin who is a former federal judge and the sponsor of the Kansas Second Amendment Protection Act.
With perhaps 85 supporters of Cox and Kettler in attendance, Judge Marten thanked the supporters for showing their interest in the case and for the many letters he had received on the case. Though he did not agree with many of the letters, he said he supports the first amendment right of people to speak. He also commended Cox, Kettler, and the audience for their good conduct and for being respectful.
Judge Marten said that he has taken an oath not only to the Constitution but also to the law. He spoke of the case law that is on the books – such as the Heller case in DC.
Judge Marten said he was not asked to rule on the constitutionality of the Second Amendment Protection Act so he was not going to rule on it.
He felt that Cox and Kettler were not a danger to society as they thought that they were protected by the Second Amendment Protection Act and thought they were acting within the law.
Judge Marten noted that this case was under the taxing power of the federal government in like manner to the Affordable Care Act.
Judge Marten sentenced Kettler to one year probation with a $100 payment required to the federal crime victims fund. He sentenced Cox to 2 years probation for the 8 counts he was found guilty of and this requires 8 times the $100 payment must be made to the crime victims fund – for a total of $800.
Judge Marten thanked Kettler for his military service in Iraq and Afghanistan, and also recognized that Cox’s daughter is currently on active duty in military service and was in the audience.
Attorney KrisAnne Hall and Sheriff Richard Mack spoke outside the courthouse both before and after the sentencing. Sheriff Mack is on his way to Washington, DC to speak to Congressmen and hopefully President Trump about this case and several other cases of federal overreach throughout the country. Three state legislators took time away from their duties in the legislature to show their support for the Second Amendment Protection Act and Cox and Kettler. At least one county commissioner also came for a short time to show his support.
Supporters discussed whether the state of Kansas could be sued for damages for misleading Cox and Kettler to believe the state would protect Kansans who acted in accordance with the Second Amendment Protection Act – which Attorney General Schmidt demonstrated support of by witnessing the signing of the law by Governor Brownback. Neither Schmidt nor Brownback took any action to protect Cox or Kettler.
I know it’s not easy to find a positive in a situation like this, but the fact that the federal “punishment” was far less than it could have been is important. Will this make it to the Supreme Court? And if so, where will Judge Gorsuch land? He’s known as a judge who is open to rejecting precedent. We’ll be watching and blogging about this more in the near future.
Thanks to Glen – plus other great activists, like Rob Wood, in Kansas for standing up for liberty. And none more so than Shane Cox and Jeremy Kettler – Kansas (and all states) – need more people like them; willing to exercise their rights even when the feds say they can’t.
UPDATE: Just found this amazing quote, via ABC News:
“Somebody had to take one for the team,” Cox said. “I was doing it out in the open, it wasn’t a secretive thing.”
Pictures courtesy of Glen Burdue, click to enlarge.