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Wednesday, January 23, 2013 8:41 PM

Unconstitutional gun laws won’t be enforced, sheriff pledges

By BOBBY BURCH, Herald Staff Writer

Echoing the sentiments of several other law enforcement officials, Franklin County Sheriff Jeff Curry vowed Wednesday his office would not enforce regulations that impede the right of residents to keep and bear arms.

In affirming his commitment to the Second Amendment, Curry joined dozens of sheriffs across the U.S. who have voiced their opinions on gun control in the wake of President Obama’s 23 executive actions to curb gun violence.

“I’m a proponent of the Second Amendment, and I believe that an armed society is a polite society,” Curry said Wednesday. “I can tell you that until someone attempts to take enforcement action in Franklin County, I have no reason to take a stance. But I can tell you that my position is that I will not enforce any federal regulations that inhibit a person’s Second Amendment rights.”

On Friday, Johnson County Sheriff Frank Denning issued a pointed response to Obama’s actions. In his open letter, Denning took direct issue with Obama’s executive actions, which largely increase the enforcement of current gun laws and require federal agencies to provide data for background checks.

“As sheriff, I will never support, nor advocate for, any legislation at any level (local, state or federal) that would restrict the legal possession or ownership of any type of firearm (or high-capacity magazine) by lawful, law-abiding, tax-paying citizens of Johnson County, Kansas and of the United States of America,” Frank Denning wrote in the letter, which was posted Friday on the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office’s website. “From reading the proposed changes and suggestions for future legislation from Washington, I see nothing whatsoever that would have prevented these past atrocities from occurring, nor do they pretend to effectively prevent future incidents from happening. ... Even in our national grief, we must adhere to reason and logic.”

In addition to Denning’s comments, a Dallas-area sheriff recently announced his office plans to ignore any gun laws that he considers to violate the U.S. Constitution. Collin County Sheriff Terry Box said Monday that imprudent lawmakers’ actions could infringe on citizens’ rights granted in the Constitution.  

“Unfortunately, the recent surge in the numbers of innocent victims who have died at the hands of unstable criminals has prompted politicians in Washington to seek to pass laws that would seriously erode the constitutional rights of innocent and law abiding citizens,” the Texas sheriff wrote in a statement. “Neither I, nor any of my deputies, will participate in the enforcement of laws that violate our precious constitutional rights, including our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. As long as I remain sheriff of Collin County, I will not participate in the actions of misguided politicians who seek to impede our citizen’s right to all of the privileges afforded by our Constitution.”

Collin County is part of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, and includes small portion of the city of Dallas, as well as such other cities as Allen, Frisco, McKinney and Plano.

The recent public stances by sheriffs across the country have garnered the attention of news groups and citizens alike, including residents in Franklin County. After hearing of Obama’s recent executive orders, David Feuerborn, Williamsburg, said he wondered about the Franklin County sheriff’s stance on gun control.

“I believe we the people deserve to know if our sheriff or anybody else that has or would run for sheriff in future elections obey the Constitution, or [Obama],” David Feuerborn wrote in an email to The Herald. “I would like the question asked: ‘Would you abide by the Constitution with the other sheriffs or would you obey [Obama] and disarm good people?’ ... I believe we need to know all this — even where all [of] Franklin County’s politicians stand — so we know how to vote.”

Not all sheriffs, however, are in agreement with disregarding gun laws considered by some to violate the Second Amendment, including Calhoun County, Ala., Sheriff Larry Amerson. Amerson, who also serves as president of the National Sheriffs Association, said public dialogue regarding Obama’s recent executive orders often is misguided, as many believe it will lead the disarmament of Americans.

“There are some people who are trying to change the focus of this discussion and using this argument of disarming the American public,” Amerson, a firearms instructor and hunter, said, according to media reports. “That takes the attention away from the problem we are trying to deal with. ... Any sheriff who knows his duty knows we don’t enforce federal law, per se.”

While he did not say “gun” or “gun control,” Obama’s inaugural address Monday did hint at efforts to decrease gun violence.

“Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for and cherished and always safe from harm,” Obama said.   

Obama’s recent efforts, however, have done little to deter prospective gun violence from occurring, Curry said. Lawbreakers inevitably will find access to firearms if they so choose, he said, as many guns already are available to the public.

“The guns are already out there. The bad guys already have guns,” Curry said. “By making laws prohibiting law-abiding citizens from possessing guns, you’re taking the guns out of the wrong hands.”

Curry said that while he thinks Obama’s initiatives are misguided, such actions do not affect the operation of his office. The sheriff, whose office is responsible for the administration of conceal and carry permits within Franklin County, said it’s his desire that lawmakers now take new approaches to bridle gun violence in the U.S.  

“It’s my hope,” Curry said, “that instead of targeting the gun, we spend more time targeting the criminals.”

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