The Utah Sheriff’s Association has drafted a letter expressing concerns with gun control measures proposed by the Obama Administration. The letter reads, in part, “We are prepared to trade our lives for the preservation of its (the Constitution’s) traditional interpretation.” The sheriffs are telling the administration that “no federal official will be permitted to descend upon our constituents and take from them what the Bill of Rights — in particular our Amendment II — has given them.”
The Utah sheriffs are over-reacting. No 2nd Amendment rights are being taken away from legislation proposed by the administration. The main points to Obama’s gun control legislation include reauthorizing the assault weapons ban, a limit on high-capacity magazines, tougher penalties for those who sell firearms to criminals and requiring background checks at all gun shows.
If every one of those proposals became law, it would not infringe on a citizen’s 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms to protect himself and his family. In fact, it’s quite possible that these legislative proposals will not pass Congress and become law. Both sides have strong arguments for and against bans on certain weapons and background checks.
But the debate should not be over-hyped, and that is what the Utah sheriffs, as well as sheriffs in other states, have done with these types of letters that incorrectly claim that the Constitution is in danger of being shredded by laws that ban assault weapons or require background checks.
Let there be passionate, patriotic debate over gun control, but the incorrect assumptions that the feds are trying to oppress civilians needs to be corrected. Our local sheriffs, Terry Thompson in Weber County and Todd Richardson in Davis County, are law enforcement officers we respect and support. They are dealing with dozens of calls a week from residents concerned they are losing their constitutional rights. Sheriffs Thompson, Richardson and others are entitled, as everyone is, to have personal opinions on federal legislation. But they also need to assure their constituents that they haven’t lost their 2nd Amendment rights. The Utah sheriffs’ letter does not help with that task.