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Why Many Sheriffs Oppose Gun Control

From Press-Enter­prise Some of South­ern California’s most vocal gun rights advo­cates wear badges.

River­side Coun­ty Sher­iff Stan Sniff and San Bernardi­no Coun­ty Sher­iff John McMa­hon have con­sis­tent­ly opposed new gun con­trol leg­is­la­tion. So does Orange Coun­ty Sher­iff San­dra Hutchens.

In a tele­phone inter­view, McMa­hon said more gun con­trol rules are not the best way to pre­vent­ing gun vio­lence.

I gen­er­al­ly oppose any leg­is­la­tion that puts any more restric­tions or con­trol on cit­i­zens hav­ing an abil­i­ty to pos­sess firearms,” said McMa­hon, who has been sher­iff since 2012. “We still have peo­ple run­ning around with guns that aren’t sup­posed to have them.”

In emailed respons­es to ques­tions, Sniff wrote that while the courts “have long held that rea­son­able restric­tions to the Sec­ond Amend­ment are both con­sti­tu­tion­al and also pro­tect our com­mu­ni­ties … Many pro­posed firearms con­trol bills are very poor­ly thought out, hasti­ly draft­ed with­out appro­pri­ate expert input, and incor­rect­ly prof­fered to the pub­lic as ‘mak­ing things safer’ in our com­mu­ni­ties.

In some cas­es, these pro­posed bills actu­al­ly make our com­mu­ni­ties less safe, and remove inher­ent rights of our cit­i­zens to self-defense, or worse, allow only the wealthy, elite or the well-off to pro­tect them­selves,” wrote Sniff, who became sher­iff in 2007.

Three years ago, Sniff, a Repub­li­can like McMa­hon, sent a let­ter to U.S. Sen. Dianne Fein­stein, D-Calif., crit­i­ciz­ing her pro­posed assault-weapons ban.

In many ways your bill unrea­son­ably impinges on the Sec­ond Amend­ment, and it focus­es large­ly on pure­ly ‘cos­met­ic’ fea­tures of legit­i­mate sport­ing, hunt­ing, and recre­ation­al firearms already in wide­spread use in our nation,” he wrote.

The cos­met­ic issues alone cause far too much mean­ing­less com­plex­i­ty for law enforce­ment offi­cers, and worse, could cause com­mon cit­i­zens to unin­ten­tion­al­ly com­mit crimes that have seri­ous poten­tial sanc­tions.”

Cal­i­for­nia Lt. Gov. Gavin New­som, who is behind a bal­lot mea­sure that would impose new rules on guns and ammu­ni­tion, said that while he has enor­mous respect for the sher­iffs and what they do, “This has been the argu­ment for decades. I don’t know that they rep­re­sent a dif­fer­ent point of view than their pre­de­ces­sors, oppos­ing law after law after law.”

Since the mid-1990s, when new gun laws were enact­ed, the gun mur­der rate in Cal­i­for­nia has fall­en 56 per­cent, more than dou­ble the rate of a nation­al decrease in gun mur­ders, New­som said.

I think these things save lives,” he added. “They can dis­agree … but the data does not sup­port their point of view.”

Calls for gun con­trol have esca­lat­ed in recent years fol­low­ing a spate of mass shoot­ings, includ­ing the Dec. 2 ter­ror attack in San Bernardi­no in which a rad­i­cal­ized Islam­ic cou­ple used assault-style weapons to kill 14 and wound 22. Con­gres­sion­al Democ­rats in June staged a sit-in on the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives floor in an unsuc­cess­ful effort to force a gun con­trol vote.

Cal­i­for­nia vot­ers in Novem­ber will con­sid­er Newsom’s bal­lot mea­sure. Among oth­er things, it would ban ammu­ni­tion mag­a­zines that hold more than 10 rounds and set up a process for tak­ing firearms from those who are legal­ly barred from own­ing a gun.

Polling shows 89 per­cent of peo­ple sup­port­ing a process for those barred from gun own­er­ship to relin­quish their weapons, New­som said.

This sum­mer, Gov. Jer­ry Brown signed six gun con­trol bills, includ­ing mea­sures that require back­ground checks for bul­let pur­chas­es and ban semi­au­to­mat­ic rifles with mag­a­zines that can be eject­ed with a small tool. Crit­ics said the “bul­let but­ton” was an end-around to the state’s ban on detach­able mag­a­zines.


Coun­ty sher­iffs are elect­ed offi­cials in Cal­i­for­nia with the author­i­ty to issue per­mits for civil­ians to car­ry con­cealed firearms in pub­lic. Sniff said that while he sup­ports and encour­ages law-abid­ing res­i­dents to obtain con­cealed car­ry per­mits, “rad­i­cal gun groups” believe he’s not issu­ing enough.

The pub­lic still expects the sher­iff to issue CCWs using good sense as well as rea­son­able­ness in mak­ing deter­mi­na­tions of who is licensed and allowed by the depart­ment to car­ry loaded, hid­den hand­guns into our pub­lic places,” said Sniff, who is a mem­ber of the Nation­al Rifle Asso­ci­a­tion, the Cal­i­for­nia Rifle & Pis­tol Asso­ci­a­tion and Gun Own­ers of Cal­i­for­nia.

As elect­ed offi­cials, sher­iffs can accept cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions. A check of dona­tions to Sniff, McMa­hon, Hutchens and Los Ange­les Coun­ty Sher­iff Jim McDon­nell in recent years found no instances of con­tri­bu­tions by the NRA or oth­er gun rights or gun con­trol groups.

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ER1C ☠

ER1C ☠

Dedicated Second Amendment Advocate, At-Home Gunsmith, Designer, Blogger, Video Guy, Author, Business Owner & ReloadOne Member.

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