February 7, 2017-Lake County Sheriff John Buncich, through his attorneys, is fighting back hard against the federal government. In what is perhaps the most tersely worded brief ever filed in the Northern District of Indiana, attorneys for Sheriff Buncich argue that his firearm should be returned to him because he is still the duly elected Sheriff and he is not charged with a crime of violence.
The Government responded that Buncich was never observed carrying a firearm during the nearly three year long investigation.
“During the almost three year investigation of this matter, at no time did agents ever observe Buncich carry a firearm on his person. . .It appears that a firearm is not necessary for Buncich to carry out his official duties.” (See Brief of Government, below) The Government further argues that federal law prohibits a person under indictment from “receiving” a firearm or ammunition:
(n) It shall be unlawful for any person who is under indictment for a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year to ship or transport in interstate or foreign commerce any firearm or ammunition or receive any firearm or ammunition which has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce.(See 18 U.S.C. 922(n)).
The argument that Sheriff Buncich never carried a gun must have struck a nerve. In a reply brief, Buncich states:
“This is false. Buncich continually wore a firearm during throughout his service as Sheriff. He kept a gun in his sock as well as in his pocket. He was always armed with a service weapon.” Buncich goes on to argue that the attempt to disarm the sheriff is based on “vindictiveness” and amounts to an attempt to force the Sheriff to plead guilty. Buncich concedes that he cannot buy a firearm but argues that returning a firearm which he lawfully possessed prior to his arrest does not constitute “receiving” a firearm pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 922(n) (see above). “The Government knows this but attempts to mislead the Court knowing full well that the media will publish their words at face value without checking their distinction.” (Buncich Reply Brief p. 2). Buncich goes on to call the Government’s position “an embarrassing argument:”
The briefs and the replies set out a war of words which leads one to the conclusion that Sheriff Buncich will be fighting the charges in this case to the end. We will continue to follow any developments.