SALT LAKE CITY -- A letter to Pres. Barrack Obama, supported by 28 of 29 sheriffs in Utah, stating local lawmen will uphold the Constitutional right of Utah residents to own a firearm, is not an invitation to trouble, one sheriff told a group of lawmakers.
Millard County Sheriff Robert Dekker was asked to read the letter to members of the Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Standing Committee on Tuesday evening, and the letter drew a mixed response from committee members.
The letter says the lawmen will enforce citizen rights granted by the Constitution and says no federal official will be allowed to descend on citizens to take away that right. Only the sheriff of Salt Lake County did not sign the letter.
"We're not trying to make any threats ... We're not going to stand at borders with rifles. We're making a statement that we want gun ownership in the state of Utah," Dekker said.
Rep. Jennifer Selig, D-Salt Lake, said she does not support the letter and voiced concern about the lawmakers' interpretation of the law.
For the most part, the sheriffs drew praise from the group, which is chaired by Rep. Curt Oda, R-Clearfield, one of the most visible defenders of gun rights in the state.
Rep. Dana Layton, R-Orem, said she has heard a lot of knee-jerk reactions to the letter but thanked the sheriffs for having good reflexes.
Rep. Paul Ray also heaped praise on the group.
"When it comes down to it, a lot of people talk and few stand up. You guys stood up. I think it goes a long way," Ray said.