Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Sheriffs take stance on gun violence

By Alannah Allbrett

The Idaho Sheriffs’ Association (ISA) met Feb. 4, in Boise. On their agenda were the topic of gun violence and the attendant questions of whether the association wanted to, or should, take a formal position.

Clearwater County Sheriff, Chris Goetz said a good two hours of debate ensued among the 41 (of 44) members present, who meet annually. Goetz, (2nd Vice President and Secretary of the Association) said members were furnished with a roughly drafted position as a starting point toward tackling the tough issue. He said the original draft ended up being “thrown out the window entirely” as it was hashed over by group.

Agreeing that guns are not the cause of violence but merely an instrument to carry it out, the sheriffs felt it was necessary to make a statement that addresses three major points: 1) they acknowledge that they, as law enforcement officers, are sworn to uphold the constitution of the United States; 2) that the courts are the ultimate authority in interpreting the scope of those constitutional rights and; 3) they strongly support citizens’ protected rights to bear arms.

Further, the ISA supports the rights conferred by the second amendment while recognizing the efforts of the state legislature, congress, and the president to “provide for safer communities by a reduction in gun violence.”

Without outlining specifics, the statement declares: “We take different paths, but the goal is the same. In order to achieve success, we must work together on issues upon which we can agree.”

When asked if this statement makes individual sheriffs liable, Goetz replied, “It does not. We are sworn to uphold the constitution of the U.S. and Idaho and feel this is a part of that.”

Asked if the position is stronger or weaker than the one issued by the state of Oregon, Goetz said, “It is different.” He went on to say that violence is manifest in many ways, such as gang violence, lack of mental health treatment, drugs, the breakdown of the family, and kids becoming desensitized though violent video games and the media. “Guns are not the underlying issue,” he said. “We thought it was important, when talking with state legislators about the topic of gun control, to come to the table with a stated position.”

The official statement closes by advising people to contact their local sheriff for further explanation to his/her position on various bills being proposed by state legislators and congress. It encourages people to contact their state representatives to let them know they feel on this issue.

To read this document in its entirety, visit the ISA website at: and follow the link in the middle of the page.

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