Since the December murders in Newtown, Conn., state houses and the U.S. Congress have been awash in gun control proposals from those seeking to exploit the tragedy. In stark contrast to this anti-gun hysteria are the sober actions taken by numerous sheriffs and sheriffs’ associations across the country that have made it clear they will oppose attacks on their constituents’ rights.
Taking their message straight to the top, on Jan. 17, the Utah Sheriffs’ Association sent a letter to President Obama outlining its members’ position and calling the ongoing demonization of firearms “foolish and prejudiced.” Displaying not only a respect for guns, but also an understanding of their constitutionally protected purpose, the sheriffs noted that “lawful violence must sometimes be employed to deter and stop criminal violence. Consequently, the citizenry must continue in its ability to keep and bear arms, including arms that adequately protect them from all types of illegality.” And in a stern warning to President Obama, the sheriffs conclude the letter by stating, “We will enforce the rights guaranteed to our citizens by the Constitution.”
Likewise, the County Sheriffs of Colorado (CSOC) offered a detailed position paper that contained a rundown of the legislative proposals being offered by state and federal politicians. Highlighting the impracticality and civil liberties implications of outlawing private firearm transfers, the CSOC explains, “Private sales to friends, neighbors or loved ones would become illegal, effectively turning law-abiding citizens into criminals. Local and state law enforcement do not have the resources to stop private sales of firearms nor to investigate such transactions making this law unenforceable. Forcing citizens to sell firearms through a federal firearms dealer is the first step towards gun registration and a national database of gun owners.”
And in defense of magazines with a capacity greater than 10 rounds of ammunition, the CSOC notes, “Law enforcement officers carry high capacity magazines because there are times when 10 rounds might not be enough to end the threat. County Sheriffs of Colorado believe the same should hold true for civilians who wish to defend themselves.”
Among the other groups voicing concern for the Second Amendment are the Florida Sheriffs Association, the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association, the Indiana Sheriffs’ Association, the New Mexico Sheriffs’ Association and the Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police.
Joining the large state organizations are hundreds of individual sheriffs who have registered their disapproval with the raft of current gun control proposals and emphasized their constituents’ right to self-defense. One such sheriff, David Clarke Jr. of Milwaukee County, Wis., drew the ire of his notoriously anti-gun mayor, Tom Barrett, for suggesting that citizens exercise their rights. In a radio public service announcement, Clarke stressed to Milwaukee residents the importance of the citizen-police partnership to public safety, stating, “Simply calling 9-1-1 and waiting is no longer your best option. You can beg for mercy from a violent criminal, hide under the bed, or you can fight back. But are you prepared? Consider taking a certified safety course in handling a firearm so you can defend yourself.”
In the midst of an orchestrated attack on Second Amendment rights by many state and federal politicians, it is comforting to know that so many of the law enforcement officials nearest to the people and charged with upholding the law, including the Constitution, understand the role of armed citizens and will reject attempts to curb their rights.