Sheriff Scott Nichols cares about people and their rights. He cares about his community and his country. He’s a good man, you can tell. As Sheriff of Franklin County in rural western Maine, he not only serves and protects in his role in law enforcement, but speaks out and advocates for the Second Amendment.
Back on April 14th I saw him give an amazing speech at a pro Second Amendment rally, one of many held throughout the country that day. The crowd of over eight hundred people on a very cold and windy day responded enthusiastically and cheered loudly. His speech really stood out. Here was someone who felt strongly about protecting our rights, and knew how to deliver his message well. I knew then that I had to speak with him in person and interview him for Liberty First Foundation and Religion of Arms. Prior to that I’d known of his good reputation as Sheriff for a long time, and his prior history in law enforcement in the Maine State Police, and had heard that he was a staunch advocate of the Second Amendment, but his speech was really something to hear.
As busy as Sheriff Nichols is, he agreed enthusiastically be interviewed about his support of Second Amendment rights, and to talk about his experiences. So I recently sat down with him for a cup of coffee at Douins Market and Diner, a small local store where the food is good, and everyone in our small town comes for milk and eggs, pizza, and community news. There’s a large painted American flag on one of their storage buildings out front that shows support for service members and veterans. It’s a good place. Here more often than not you’ll find people standing in the parking lot talking and exchanging stories between rows of pickup trucks. It’s a small town gathering place of the best kind.
It seemed fitting to meet Scott here, in this busy little country store, where people know each other by name and the staff always say hello when you walk in, no matter how busy they are. Sheriff Nichols takes his role as Sheriff of Franklin County very seriously, and has done much to improve and modernize his department in the 6 years that he’s served as Sheriff, but it’s clear that while he has major responsibilities, he sees himself in many ways as just another citizen, one of us. In fighting to protect our Second Amendment rights, he stands side by side with us.
He’s also been willing to use his voice as an elected official to take a stand against infringement of our Second Amendment rights on more than one occasion. During a Michael Bloomberg driven referendum initiative a couple of years ago, Sheriff Nichols spoke out publicly against universal background checks and worked to bring other Sheriffs in the state to advocate and oppose the measure as well. He did all that while standing for re-election. That says a lot about his character right there.
We talked about the current political environment, and the movement to restrict people’s fundamental rights. He spoke of his frustration over how the media and the anti Second Amendment movement have been using tragedies to further their agenda. About how politicians, often driven by their own political agenda, not by people’s actual safety, take every new incident of violence as an opportunity to sensationalize the issue, and to then to whittle away even further at people’s rights.
“Look at the governor down in Florida, what he’s been doing. Of course he’s running for Senate now, so he’s looking for votes. He used one kid who committed a heinous, horrible act at Parkland, and took that and pushed through anti Second Amendment regulations that took away the rights of hundreds of thousands of young people between 18 and 20 years old, and limited the rights of millions of others. Florida is a big state, with over twenty million people I think, and the politicians used that as an excuse to take away all those people’s rights. And that’s just one example. They are taking away our rights here. The right to bear arms is a fundamental right. It means something. This has got to stop.”
He spoke about how important it is not to be discouraged in our fight to protect the Second Amendment. “The media and anti-Second Amendment politicians and groups want us to believe that they are winning, that they’ve got all the momentum. They want us to give up. But we can’t do that. That’s what they want. But it’s not true. There are a lot of us in this country who won’t let that happen. We have to be in this for the long haul. It’s too important.”
Right now, with the media and anti gun groups using recent tragedies to drive momentum against the Second Amendment, it’s an uphill battle, Nichols says. “They can’t repeal the Second Amendment, that’s not going to happen, but what they can do is regulate it to the point that it’s mostly ineffective. That’s their game plan. Look at the People’s Republic states, like Massachusetts, or New York, or Connecticut, and California, regulating things like magazine capacity, ammunition, etc. has been a tactic that they’ve used for a long time. Their idea is that they can’t actually come out and ban guns directly, so they try to ban or regulate everything else instead. Or what some of the banks are doing right now, pressuring manufacturers and businesses. It’s unbelievable. But it’s an effective tactic that has been used by socialist and fascist governments in the past. Using heinous events as a way to get people to gradually give up their rights, and then you get to a point where you don’t have your rights anymore. They manipulate people into giving the government more and more power. What many people don’t realize is that it’s not just the Second Amendment, it’s the First Amendment, and all the rest. But those two, the First and Second Amendments, if you lose those, you lose everything.”
I asked him about the danger that Maine would follow the example of Vermont, which has recently passed more restrictive gun regulations and red flag laws. He said he didn’t think that would happen here anytime soon, at least with the current governor in office, but there is always a danger that will change. “ We’ll see what happens in the fall, what the new legislature looks like and who the new governor is. I just hope that whoever gets voted in is pro Second Amendment. There some other people out there who are running who are definitely not our friends, and they don’t care, to them it’s all about saying the right thing to get elected. Here’s the thing that gets me, these politicians come up with all of these solutions for problems that don’t exist in this state. They simply don’t exist. Maine is one of the most peaceful states out there, so it’s not about saving lives, it’s about gun control, taking away people’s rights. That’s what’s really going on here, it’s all about finding ways to attack the Second Amendment. If one attack doesn’t work, they hit it from another angle, we’re always going to be fighting this fight so it’s really important that of all of us do our part to stay diligent about that. “
“There’s a huge silent majority in this state, people who don’t show up at rallies, I had dozens and dozens of people that I know tell me that they wish they could have gone to the recent rally on April 14th, but had to work or something else, but there are so many voters out there, who care about the Second Amendment. So for every person that attended the rally, there are that many more out there. Maine really is very pro Second Amendment the way it stands right now, our laws are even more relaxed than even Texas. I don’t know what going to happen in 5 or 10 years, but right now they are good, so that’s a good thing.”
“This whole situation is very frustrating right now,” Nichols said, “listening to how some people talk about the need for more gun control. I think they’d just be better off to leave well enough alone. Concentrate on something else that’s important. Politicians are spending a massive amounts of time and effort on something that is not really a huge issue. For some politicians, it’s not really a waste of time though, it’s a goal for some people, and that’s something that we all should be aware of, is that we are dealing with people who have a socialist agenda. They think government is the be all and end all of everything.”
Sheriff Nichols also talked about how persistent the anti Second Amendment movement has been. “They keep coming at us with the these laws, things like the red flag laws and other regulations, but again, it’s just another step towards confiscation. The problem is, that, with laws like those in place, you never know who might be in power down the road who could, and would abuse them. In the Soviet Union they used the mental health system against political dissidents, to send people away. Again, it’s right out of the Marxist playbook. Laws like that can be abused with the wrong people at the helm.”
“And, the thing is, if these people are so intent about saving lives, because they say it’s all about saving lives, it’s all about and saving children, then, with over 40,000 people dying from automobile related incidents last year, why aren’t they focused on that? The cause of death from guns is so low compared to other causes. Last year in 2017, there were something like 38,000 gun related deaths, and out of that 38,000, less than a quarter were homicide related. Most of them were suicides or accidents, so you have, lets say, out of that 38,000 maybe 8,000 or so that are actual homicides and out of that 8,000 that also includes guns used in defense of themselves, or others or to stop a crime, so then you see that number go down even further. That leaves you with only a few thousand people who have killed other people with guns in a violent manner every year. More people are killed with hammers and blunt force instruments than guns, and no-one is calling for their control. And another thing the media doesn’t talk about much is the fact that most gun related deaths occur in metropolitan areas with gang related activity. I saw some statistic recently that said something about that if you took out Chicago, Baltimore, Los Angeles, and a couple other cities, that the United States would be one of the safest countries in the world. We’ve got like five cities, big metropolitan areas, that are responsible for the majority of gun crimes. “
I asked him about his thoughts on school shootings, and the response by many to discourage more armed security guards and resource officers. Some schools, notably two in Pennsylvania issuing buckets of rocks and miniature baseball bats for self defense against shootings. “You know we’ve got a population of well over 300 million people and in such a large population, there are a going to be a lot mentally disturbed people out there and there are a lot of undiagnosed people with mental illness out there who legally can obtain a firearm. Knowing that that’s the climate we live in these days, knowing that the social disorder in our country has reached the point where its at, where human life is devalued, the smart thing to do would be to harden the schools. They do it in Israel, school teachers carry firearms and accompany their kids, and they’ve had no school shootings in years, none. It’s just the reality that we are dealing with today. The threat to our schools is there, so instead of making it seem like such an unsavory thing to do, why don’t we just say, “Ok this is what we’ve got to do to make our kids safe.’ Why are they not more important than some celebrity or politician who has armed bodyguards?”
Sheriff Nichols also talked about his involvement in firearms education. He and other members of his Department teach monthly handgun safety courses in Franklin County that not only focus on safe handling and usage, but also teach the philosophy behind being a gun owner. He emphasizes the responsibilities that gun owners have, and how important it is to present yourself responsibly in public and in interactions with others so that you can promote the importance of the Second Amendment, and not detract from the movement. “It’s important to be educated about your rights, and to talk reasonably with other people who may not agree with you, or who might be put off by seeing someone carrying a gun. You’ve got to make sure that you don’t add to negative stereotypes that exist out there of gun owners. Speak out, but don’t do anything to hurt the cause. The media and a lot of politicians are pushing this stereotype of gun owners as ignorant rednecks, but it’s not true. There are so many people who support the Second Amendment, it goes across the board. It’s up to people like us to speak out, to be vocal in our stance. To show who gun owners really are, it’s everybody, no particular group or party, it’s all of us.”
Talking about his position as Sheriff, and about law enforcement’s view of people’s right to bear arms, Sheriff Nichols said: “People should know, there are a lot of police officers out here, most of us really, at least in this state, who support the Second Amendment. Up here in Maine we’ve got Constitutional Carry now. As Law Enforcement Officers, we’ve got so used to it, when we stop a car, walking up to somebody who tells us that they have a gun, and we tell them, no problem, can I see your license and registration? It’s not a big deal to us. We’re gun owners, we’re citizens too. We understand. I want to do my part to protect the Second Amendment. So I’m going to keep plugging away, and when called upon, give my two cents worth to help out, and let people know that law enforcement stands with them on the Second Amendment. There are some people out there who don’t trust law enforcement, and it’s important for them to know, we aren’t the enemy here, we’re not the problem, it’s politicians.”
I asked Sheriff Nichols what he thought was the best way for people to be involved in the fight to defend the Second Amendment and what advice he had for our group members. “ I encourage people to be noisy, the squeaky wheel gets the oil. I encourage people to be noisy in a legal way and don’t do anything that’s going to shed a poor light on our movement. We’ve got to be strong, we’re fighting an uphill battle, we’ve got to be diligent as far as hammering on the people who represent us in office, and actively get out there and force the legislators to take a stand regarding Second Amendment issues in every state. Make them take a stand and make your representative tell you where they stand, because if they don’t and give you some sort of wishy washy answer, that’s a person that you don’t want in there. You need someone who’s going to take a strong stance and say ‘this is what I believe’ not say ‘this is what’s going to get me elected’ which is so often the case these days. They’ll say what they have to say, especially during an election year, it makes me sick. “
“We just have to stay active, and just continue to be noisy. Do your research, don’t be lazy about it, you’ve got to go out there and make yourself known. I know quite a few politicians actually, and they always tell me that if they get 10 or 15 letters or emails on something, they get concerned and pay attention. I mean, my goodness, really? 10 or 15? How many people are concerned about losing their rights now, and they haven’t done anything about it yet? They think somebody else is going to do it for me, or that my one letter or phone call doesn’t mean anything, but what you cannot do is fall into that trap. Your actions matter. You’ve got to be diligent, confronting these people, contacting the legislature, electing the right people. When you really sit back and think about it, the majority think the way we do but they are so quiet about it! People have got to realize that their voice counts. They’ve got to realize that the anti Second Amendment people are the minority. Just because they have the big booming voice of the media it makes it seem like they are the majority, but they’re not. People shouldn’t fall for it.”
“What we don’t want to have happen here is what has happened in places like Great Britain. America has had this long standing, deeply ingrained tradition of gun rights, since well before the Revolution…back into the 1600s, and we can’t let our rights be whittled away like what happened in Great Britain. There’s a book out there by Glenn Beck, its called “Control” it’s all about the anti Second Amendment movement that’s out there. It’s a great book, I’d recommend it to everyone. In part of it, he talks about how gun control happened over time in England…little by little. He detailed a really good list of how Britain lost their gun rights incrementally,starting even as far back as the 1700s. And it just kept going, and accelerated in the 1900s until now in the 2000’s everything is gone essentially. And now they are on to knives! And it hasn’t really helped anyway, violence in places like England is only increasing. I feel bad for them, but we’ve got to protect our country. Not just the Second Amendment but all our rights, we’ve got to protect our country from what happened over there.”
I took a lot away from my conversation with Sheriff Nichols. It’s clear that he is a man of principle, and he’s not afraid to take a stand and speak his mind. He’s a real asset to us in the state of Maine, and I’m proud that he’s my county Sheriff. Even more important though, right now, is how strong of an advocate he is for the Second Amendment and for our fundamental rights as American citizens. He’s a man you want on your side, and as free American citizens, it’s good to know that he has our back.
Thank you Sheriff Nichols for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with us at Liberty First Foundation and Religion of Arms. We are proud to share your message to our group and beyond. We, alongside you, are standing up against unconstitutional laws. Together our voices will be heard. We The People, will not give up the fight.