The federal government’s crusade against Reuben King is just the latest example of drunk-with-power bureaucrats tyrannizing Lancaster County locals. First it was threatening Amos Miller with $300,000 in fines and possible jail time for selling natural, organic food. Now it’s a case against King which could result in prison time for the Leacock Township farmer.
The Lancaster Patriot’s Michael Yoder reported last week that King was charged in June for allegedly selling firearms without a proper license. Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) raided his farm last year, confiscating over 600 weapons (mostly rifles and shotguns). As part of their quest against King, multiple officers conducted undercover operations to buy guns from the dairy farmer.
Cowards and Tyrants
King’s selling of firearms is a classic example of a non-evil act that our government is bent on penalizing. The civil government exists to “punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good” (1 Peter 2:14) and buying or selling firearms is most certainly not evil. But our government has taken a page from Enlightenment thinking by granting themselves what Locke called the “supreme power” to make law, and now sits atop a monstrous throne of tyranny dispensing perversions of justice whenever someone doesn’t follow their petty regulations. Of course, this is all couched in the name of “public safety.”
The ATF agents, Pennsylvania State Troopers, and any other government workers directly involved in this case against King (and the USDA agents in the Miller case, for that matter) should be utterly ashamed of themselves. I’m talking about the kind of shame that makes you sick to your stomach when you get home from work and your child asks you, “Daddy, what did you do at work today?”
These ATF agents and PSP Troopers are either cowards or lovers of tyranny.
Concerning the cowards, they likely retain the faintest glimmer of a conscience, and cannot bring themselves to tell their child, “Well, son, I did my part to help bring down a bad man who is selling guns to people without getting the government’s permission first. He might have to go to jail for this and miss the opportunity to see his kids or grandkids grow up. Serves him right for his wickedness.” Instead, they justify their actions in their mind – “I’m just doing my job and following orders” – and ignore little Johnny’s question. But their bathroom mirror awaits their conscience, as does their bed and that irritating lack of satisfaction that belongs to all such compromisers when their heads hit their pillows.
And as for the lovers of tyranny – the men who really enjoy seeing the Amos Millers and the Reuben Kings “learn their place” – they, in fact, will one day learn their place, and descend to it, along with the government overlords (on both sides of the aisle) who continue to call for this sort of tyranny, when they receive this word of condemnation: “depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (Matthew 7:23). Indeed, “they cannot sleep unless they have done wrong; they are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble” (Proverbs 4:16).
Each and every one of these men will have to answer one day for the tyranny they helped perpetuate against King for his non-evil actions. It turns out the evil in this case is on the side of the government.
Furthermore, the Miller and King stories are demonstrative of the fact that the judges involved in these cases care nothing for righteousness – they only care about examining loopholes in the latest bill of oppression. The judge involved in the Miller case didn’t give a rip about justice – he only cared about seeing if Miller would follow the arbitrary rules set up by obese pencil-pushing statists who probably couldn’t tell one end of a cow from the other. And Judge Joseph F. Leeson Jr. revealed the same when he denied King’s motion to dismiss the case. Even Leeson would be forced to admit that the only “evil” in King’s actions is that he didn’t get Big Brother to pat him on the back before selling the guns. Leeson needs to learn the lesson of Psalm 94:20: “Can wicked rulers be allied with you, those who frame injustice by statute?” Judge Leeson mistakenly thinks King will be the only one standing trial when the case comes before him this month. On the contrary, Leeson himself will be under the gaze of the Judge of all the earth, and He is not overly fond of craven judges who condemn the righteous (cf. Proverbs 17:15).
Nullification: Spineless Men Need Not Apply
The doctrine of nullification has an illustrious record in Anglo-American history. Among the most famous examples include 17th century English jurors refusing to convict William Penn for breaking what they considered an unjust law and the state of Wisconsin nullifying the federal Fugitive Slave Act by refusing to send an escaped slave back to the South.
More recent examples demonstrate the doctrine still lives: Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker recently signed new gun legislation forcing existing owners of semi-automatic rifles to register their ownership with the state to ensure “that law enforcement knows the location of these weapons of war and who to hold accountable if they fall into the wrong hands.” Over a dozen sheriff’s departments in Illinois basically told Pritzker to pound sand: they said they will nullify the law (i.e., refuse to enforce it).
Tyranny can only prosper if the common man submits to carrying out the evil on the local level. If America’s departments of tyranny (ATF, USDA, State Police, etc.) are staffed by cowards and little tyrants unwilling to nullify wicked laws and directives, then men like Amos Miller and Reuben King, people like you and me, will be harassed by evil men simply because we don’t follow all the loopholes in the manmade legislation spewing forth from the whore that is the government of the United States of America.
The Lesser Magistrates of Lancaster County
But what of our local officials here in Lancaster County? Surely the conservative county commissioners and Republican sheriff are beside themselves with righteous indignation because of the federal government’s audacity to invade Lancaster County and persecute Amish farmers. Surely, they have released statements, conducted interviews, and even issued ultimatums in response to these cases of tyranny.
Unfortunately, it appears they have not.
As far as the county commissioners go, such public remonstrations could put them on the federal government’s naughty list, which might not be the best look for them – especially after taking millions of dollars in ARPA funds (some of which is being used for socialistic government housing projects).
But what of our sheriff? There is a man who will stand in the gap for the residents of his county. There is a man who will take on these issues, and boldly condemn the actions of the federal tyrants against local farmers serving their neighbors. There is a man not only with the courage to fight mean bad guys with guns, but also with the valor to stick out his political neck to loudly condemn the unrighteous actions of the magistrates above him. Such would be a worthy lesser magistrate – a man with righteous convictions and the mettle required to stand on them.
Such is what we would hope for in a sheriff.
But is Lancaster County Sheriff Christopher Leppler such a man? Perhaps the jury is still out on that one. But the embarrassing incident in 2021 of his deputies handcuffing a man for refusing to wear a mask at the order of the honorable tyrant Judge Jeffery Wright, and Leppler’s unwillingness to publicly condemn Wright’s wickedness and lament his men’s acquiescence to unrighteousness, is troubling.
(I have reached out to Leppler requesting he engage me in a video-recorded, in-person interview on this subject to allow him to address these issues for all his constituents to hear – at the time of publication, I have not heard back from him. So, in the spirit of reserving judgment and giving him the opportunity to courageously address these issues publicly – as he ought to do as a publicly elected official who has willingly taken upon himself the role of sheriff – we await his response and tentatively hold out hope for better things to come.)
But even if the sheriff and other lesser magistrates of our county want to claim impotence against the tyrants above and beside them, the least they could do is speak out against these invasions into the county by federal agents. The least they could do is point out the cowardice and evil of the ATF agents and PSP Troopers. And if our sheriff and other county officials lack the required character to commit to actively working against federal and state efforts to spread tyranny in our county, the least they could do is publicly declare that they will in no way offer any assistance to any of these departments harassing Lancaster County locals.
If they will not, our sheriff and other civil leaders in the county are just as much a part of the problem as the cowards who work for the ATF and all the other federal departments of despotism.
None of us are innocent of the sins of cowardice and compromise, but to continue impenitently in such a path is unacceptable. Christ Jesus is Lord and Savior, and He saves men from their sin, including the sin of cowardice and corruption. That’s good news and it reminds us that the gospel impacts every area of our lives, including causing us to be unwilling to pervert justice against our neighbors. It’s time for ATF and USDA agents to quit their pseudo-jobs and do an honest day’s work. It’s time that civil magistrates (sheriffs, judges, county commissioners, and all others beside) bow the knee to Christ, begin acting like real men, and start picking on people their own size, like rapists, murderers, and kidnappers, not Amish farmers selling strip steaks or shotguns.