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05/12/2004 Archived Entry: "Sheriff steals hundreds of guns -- and what else?"

YOU'VE JUST GOT TO LAUGH AT THE WAY THE FATES OPERATE. Yesterday Free-Market.net linked to this news story about former San Bernardino County (CA) sheriff, Floyd Tidwell. Seems that Tidwell, who served as sheriff throughout the 1980s:

... took at least 523 guns from the department. ...

"Tidwell used to go through the property division periodically, as if shopping, to take his pick of weapons."

He took perfectly legal guns that should have been returned to their owners. He took full-auto weapons, illegal to possess without a Class III federal license. He sold 'em. He gave 'em away. He hoarded 'em. He used 'em in the sheriff's department. He wasn't fussy.

Happens that I have a felonious friend who misspent a lot of his youth in San Bernardino County. The county liked him so well that it invited him to stay in its guest facilities for extended periods. And its officers often stopped him on the streets for extended chats, a friendly little pat-down, and quick jaunts to their downtown hangouts.

When he heard the news, my friend exclaimed, "I know Tidwell! That rat-bastard. They don't mention all the drugs and jewelry he took, do they?"

Seems it was standard department practice -- known to all the local druggies, if not to the nice, respectable people in the district attorney's office -- for San Bernardino County deputies to stop people known to be petty criminals, strip them of their valuables, then let them go. Like, you know these people are not going to go down to the sheriff's office to demand their $100 bills, wristwatches, and dime bags back, right?

So now Tidwell is in trouble. Well, not exactly. Think for a moment about what state or fed officials would do to you if you stole more than 500 firearms, and kept machine guns without a license. Fifteen years in prison, maybe?

Well, silly you for not becoming a "public servant." Tidwell will serve no time in prison or jail, as long as he helps the government get the guns back. No word on whether any of the guns will ever be returned to their rightful owners.

Posted by Claire @ 11:55 AM CST

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