Richard Mack

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Richard Mack
Richard Mack by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Mack in downtown Phoenix, Arizona in January 2011.
Richard Ivan Mack

(1952-12-27) December 27, 1952 (age 70)
Arizona, United States
Occupation(s)Sheriff, author and activist

Richard Ivan Mack (born December 27, 1952) is the former sheriff of Graham County, Arizona and a political activist. He is known for his role in a successful lawsuit brought against the federal government of the United States which alleged that portions of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act violated the United States Constitution. He is a former lobbyist for Gun Owners of America (GOA) and a two-time candidate for United States Congress. Mack is also the founder of Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA), and established the "County Sheriff Project" movement, both of whom reaffirm what they claim is the constitutional power to refuse to enforce federal laws. Further to this, he sits on the board of directors of the Oath Keepers, a far-right militia group.[1]

Mack v. United States[edit]

Mack served as Graham County Sheriff from 1988 to 1996. In 1994 he was recruited by the National Rifle Association as a plaintiff in one of nine lawsuits against the Clinton administration over the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act.

Mack v. United States (later restyled to Printz v. United States), a lawsuit against the federal government which alleged that portions of the Act violated the United States Constitution, because they comprised a congressional action that compelled state officers to execute Federal law.[2] These portions were interim provisions until a national instant background check system for gun purchasers could be implemented. In a 5–4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the provisions of the Brady Act in question were, in fact, unconstitutional.[3]

Political views[edit]

Mack is involved in the patriot movement through his role in the Oath Keepers organization and as founder of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA).[4]

Mack opposes all gun control laws, telling the program News21, "I studied what the Founding Fathers meant about the Second Amendment, the right to keep and bear arms, and the conclusion is inescapable. There's no way around it. Gun control in America is against the law."[4]

Oath Keepers and Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association[edit]

In 2011 Mack founded the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA). The organization has a mission similar to Oath Keepers, encouraging members to refuse to enforce laws that they believe are unconstitutional.[4]

Mack is also on the board of Oath Keepers, a far-right patriot organisation known for its controversial presence during the Ferguson unrest and for supporting Cliven Bundy in his standoff against the federal government. In April, 2014, Mack asserted that as part of the citizen response to the Bundy standoff that the Oath Keepers were "...actually strategizing to put all the women up at the front. If they're gonna start shooting, it's going to be women that are gonna be televised all across the world getting shot by these rogue federal officers."[5]

The Southern Poverty Law Center included both CSPOA and Oath Keepers on its list of 1,096 anti-government "patriot" groups active in 2013.[4]

Bundy standoff[edit]

Mack was a lead figure in the 2014 Bundy standoff. Part of Mack's involvement was strategizing the standoff; Mack publicly commented that he had made plans to use women and children as human shields by the federal police as part of the group's tactics.[6]

Campaigns for Congress[edit]

Mack ran as a Libertarian candidate for United States Senate in Arizona in 2006 against incumbent Jon Kyl, a Republican, but finished in the general election with 3% of the votes.

In 2012, Mack opposed 13-term Representative Lamar Smith, who introduced and sponsored the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act legislation, in the House election Republican primary for Texas's 21st Congressional district. The primary was held on May 29. Mack lost, receiving 14.78% (10,111) of the votes.

Campaign for Navajo County (Arizona) Sheriff 2016[edit]

On December 13, 2014, Mack announced his candidacy for Navajo County Sheriff. In his announcement, he said, "We’re gonna make it a constitutional county and show everybody the blueprint for freedom. And there’s a lot more people running for other offices than me. I just said I’d run for sheriff. We’re going to give this one more try. The election is in 2016. I’m going to be moving there in spring of 2015 so I can start getting ready for this. You have about a year and a half to decide. And I’m dead serious about this. If I can move there, so can you."[7] Mack however was not on the 2016 ballot and incumbent sheriff Kelly Clarke was re-elected.[8]

Connections to white supremacist groups and movements[edit]

Mack's legal theories that a local sheriff can override federal authority derive from the white supremacist Posse comitatus movement, whose rhetoric he regularly references.[9][10] To promote his legal theories and views, he is a regular guest speaker at organizations such as the John Birch Society and conspiracy theorist and white supremacist radio shows such as The Political Cesspool and The Alex Jones Show.[9][11] Mack has also been a public supporter of white supremacists such as Randy Weaver[9] and Cliven Bundy, even taking part in the anti-government actions at Bundy's ranch as an organizer and planner.[12]

Law enforcement career[edit]

Mack spent eleven years with the police department of Provo, Utah, and then moved back to Arizona to run for Graham County Sheriff in 1988. While serving as sheriff, he attended the FBI National Academy and graduated in 1992.[13]

Personal life[edit]

Mack was born in 1952[14] in Arizona.[15] He is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and attended Brigham Young University, earning a degree in Latin American studies.[13]

In April of 2022, Richard Mack's adult son, Richard Solon Mack was charged with child sex abuse. [16][17]


Mack has authored several books relating to gun laws, ownership and the role that law enforcement should play in America:

  • The County Sheriff: America's Last Hope
  • The Proper Role of Law Enforcement
  • From My Cold Dead Fingers: Why America Needs Guns with Timothy Robert Walters (1994) ISBN 096419354X
  • The Naked Spy: His Mission Began the Day He Died (2005)
  • The Magic of Gun Control (2011), ISBN 0984885609
  • Are You a David? (2014), ISBN 0984885617


  1. ^ "Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes' path: From Yale to jail". Retrieved 2022-10-10.
  2. ^ Scalia. "Printz v. United States, 521 U.S. 898 (1997)". Retrieved 2016-05-20.
  3. ^ "Printz v. United States". Justia. Retrieved August 31, 2012.
  4. ^ a b c d "'No' Sheriff in Town: Some Lawmen Refuse to Enforce Federal Gun Laws". NBC News. Retrieved 2016-05-20.
  5. ^ "Sheriff on strategy to put women at front lines". YouTube. 2014-04-14. Archived from the original on 2014-04-15. Retrieved 2016-05-20.
  6. ^ Chasmar, Jessica (5 April 2014). "Former sheriff willing to let wife, daughters die on front lines of Bundy ranch". Washington Times. Retrieved 10 May 2016.
  7. ^ "Richard Mack Announces Plan for 'Constitutional' Takeover of Arizona's Navajo County." YouTube. YouTube, 16 Dec. 2014. Web. 14 Aug. 2015. YouTube
  8. ^ Navajo County (November 8, 2016). "Election Summary Report, General Election, Navajo County, Complete Un-Official Results, November 8, 2016" (PDF).
  9. ^ a b c Ryan Lenz (2012-11-11). "Former Arizona Sheriff Richard Mack Seeks 'Army' of Sheriffs to Resist Federal Authority | Southern Poverty Law Center". Retrieved 2016-05-20.
  10. ^ "Media Briefing Paper" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-05-20.
  11. ^ "NRA Sheriff Organizing Campaign to Take Down Federal Government". 29 January 2013. Retrieved 2016-05-20.
  12. ^ "Hello, only works with JavaScript". Retrieved 2016-05-20.
  13. ^ a b Ryan Lenz (2012-11-11). "Former Arizona Sheriff Richard Mack Seeks 'Army' of Sheriffs to Resist Federal Authority | Southern Poverty Law Center". Retrieved 2016-05-20.
  14. ^ Date information sourced from Library of Congress Authorities data, via corresponding WorldCat Identities linked authority file (LAF).
  15. ^ "2012 Sheriff Richard Mack for Congress". Archived from the original on May 6, 2012. Retrieved 2016-05-20.
  16. ^ Weill, Kelly (2022-04-22). "Son of Far-Right Group Leader Charged with Child Sex Abuse". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2022-10-10.
  17. ^ News, the Daily. "Warren County grand jury returns indictments". Bowling Green Daily News. Retrieved 2022-10-10. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)

External links[edit]