LUCAS —Inside a packed sanctuary at Faith Fellowship Church, they rose to their feet to greet the man who stood up to the politicians in Washington. He'd announced within the past week that he'd ignore their new gun laws, and they gave him a standing ovation. Every person in the room stood and cheered for the man who had inspired them. In some cases, he was the reason they even came to the meeting at all.
Collin County Sheriff Terry Box (pictured, left) took the stage at the Allen Area Patriots meeting Thursday evening like a conquering hero. He waited patiently for the thunderous applause to die down and for everyone to retake their seats. The start of the meeting had already been delayed for 15 minutes because people were still streaming in from the parking lot. They were still adding chairs at the back of the room when Box began to introduce the featured speaker, Richard Mack.
Ironically, the meeting was supposed to be about Mack, who as sheriff of Graham County in Arizona successfully sued the federal government in 1994 over the background checks required by the Brady Bill. Mack had been invited to speak about his organization and their efforts to defend the Constitution, specifically against attacks on the 2nd Amendment.
Mack (pictured at right), now retired, is the face of an organization called the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Organization (CSPOA). He has been speaking out against gun control for nearly 20 years. Box is a member of this organization and attended their convention last year.
And Box was clearly the focal point of the entire evening. Box’s local and national profile has certainly grown after his Facebook post on Sunday announcing his intentions to not enforce any new gun legislation that violated the 2nd Amendment. That post has now been published and discussed everywhere from McKinney to Dallas to Houston to San Francisco and beyond. To see the TownSquareBuzz.com follow-up on his pronouncement, please click here.
Similarly, in the last month, the CSPOA has made national news. It is now at the forefront of the national movement of county sheriffs announcing their intention to ignore any new gun laws passed in Washington. On Friday, its movement was featured in The Wall Street Journal. According to data available on CSPOA’s website (found here), 90 county sheriffs (including Box) have pledged not to enforce any new legislation that would infringe on the 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms.
On Thursday night, Mack’s fiery speech to the hundreds in attendance was equal parts disconcerting and inspiring. They were his congregation and he was their preacher. Throughout his entire speech, in between calls to action, claims that gun control is illegal, and claims that our generation is watching America die, Mack continually name-checked Box as a leader that all in attendance should follow. “People like Sheriff Box are the solution,” Mack proclaimed.
Despite the presence of other elected officials —Judge Barnett Walker, Judge Jay Bender, County Commissioner Cheryl Williams and District Clerk Andrea Thompson (who were all individually recognized before the meeting began) — Box was clearly the man who everyone came to see. After the meeting, his receiving line was crowded and surely would have been fuller if not for Mack’s nearly two-hour speech that led the meeting to conclude at 9:15 instead of the published time of 8:30. Box was the man who everyone wanted a piece of. The man whose hand everyone wanted to shake.
On Friday afternoon, Box chatted with TownSquareBuzz.com about his 15 minutes of national fame and his newfound place at the forefront of the gun control debate. “I don’t think any time I post something on my personal Facebook page that I expect it to go quite as viral as it did,” Box said. “I didn’t expect it to do what it did. I knew it’d be a hot button topic but I didn’t expect it would quite as large as it was.”
For Box’s part, he said he hopes the public outcry on both sides of the issue will calm down soon. “I don’t see myself anything like a spokesperson. I just see myself as someone who gave his opinion and that’s it. And I pretty well think I got my 15 minutes of fame or whatever it might be and I’m through with it hopefully.”
Box has been inundated with media requests from local TV stations, local newspapers, the Associated Press (who sent a photographer to shoot a file photo) and even the NRA (National Rifle Association). Box has tried to be accommodating to all media outlets but isn’t exactly pleased with the coverage he’s gotten in some cases. In response the photo that the AP used, Box doesn’t like how he’s portrayed, “It’s got me like I’m some big ‘Boss Hogg’ type guy with my mouth all curled up. And I just can’t understand why they want to do that to fit what they want it to fit.”
Despite how he’s being portrayed, Box says he doesn’t have any issues with the President: “I haven’t got anything against Obama. It’s not an Obama deal to me. It’s our whole government right now trying to do certain things.”
As for those who disagree with Box’s stance, he’s heard from them as well. He says he’s responded to all of their e-mails and returned all of their phone calls. They’ve called him a fool, an idiot, and a few words that we can’t print. Box knows that that kind of reaction goes with the territory, especially with such a hot button issue. “I understand it’s definitely their right to disagree with me," he said. "It’s definitely their right to argue with me. It’s definitely their right to tell me their opinion about what I said and how it affected their lives. That’s their First Amendment right.”
Many who agree with Box’s stance have voiced fear that the gun control initiatives being discussed in Washington are simply the first step in a process that will eventually lead to all guns being banned. Asked if he thinks that the federal government is actually going to try to take back all the guns that people currently own, Box said, “No, I don’t possibly think that. But I can tell you; I think there are plenty of people in Collin County who definitely think that. And I think it’s just as much my job to assure them that won’t happen, as it is to do anything else in my duties as being elected sheriff.”
Box says his reasoning for speaking out isn’t to garner votes, having just earned re-election in November. In fact, Box says he’s not sure if he’ll even run again. “So you know, it’s not for votes," he said. "I was just trying to answer a question and that’s what I put out there.”
Asked if he has any regrets about what happened, Box said no. “I think the people that really truly know me, know that I’m no nut out here wanting to hurt any children or want people to rob banks or things like that," he said.
Box said he hopes his days as the public face of this debate in North Texas have come to an end. “You know whatever they say, your 15 minutes of fame is up…well now mine is up.”
Box isn’t sure if he’ll speak out again about an issue like this but he said he’s comfortable with what happened. “Those are my feelings," he said. "People can like them or not like them. (It wasn't) illegal for me to say those comments…anything immoral or illegal, some differed with the hot topic button at the time but, that’s what I did…and I live with it.”
As for that request by the NRA, Box turned them down. “I told the NRA no. No, I don’t want you to come here and make a video of me to put on your website at all. I wouldn’t care for that.”