Press Release Regarding Gun Control

Yuma County Sheriff’s Office Press Release

For Immediate Release

January 21, 2013

From Sheriff Chad Day:

I’ve been asked many times over the last week by a good number of citizens from Yuma County where I stand in reference to the 23 executive actions related to gun violence (read control) that President Obama announced last week.  I am happy to have those one-on-one conversations, but I’ve been a bit hesitant to issue any public statement.  I believe there’s a very fine line between what could be viewed as “spotlight hunting” and making a statement for the benefit of Yuma County citizens.  I have intentionally been very contemplative in trying to see that line clearly so that the statement I make is not viewed as a ploy for unnecessary attention.

Let me start by saying that I believe the Second Amendment of our US Constitution is not just part of the backbone of our Republic, but the sinew that holds our backbone together and ensures that all of the other rights we enjoy as a free people are maintained.  It is what allows a Republic form of government like ours to work properly and endure.  Ensuring and encouraging American citizens the freedom to arm themselves is ultimately what keeps those in positions of political power in check, not forcibly so, but in reality and by intentional design.  The right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental right and most certainly one of many that I swore to uphold in my oath of office.

I think it’s important for us as a community to remember that the reason this conversation has been turbocharged lately is because of some very unfortunate and terrible acts that were committed by a few individuals violently causing many people harm.  These tragedies remind me that my job as the Sheriff is not just to protect the liberties of the free people in my County, or to enforce the laws that exist, but also to take part in the process of balancing those responsibilities with the duty to ardently pursue the safest environment for all of us.  In reality, President Obama and I simply do not agree on all fronts about the most effective way to do that.  I believe that gun control legislation in fact increases our probability of seeing violence by guns.  It seems to me beyond dispute that people targeted by gun-control measures do not comply with them, leaving those law-abiding citizens that do follow the rules less able to defend themselves.  Moreover, gun-control laws embolden those criminally minded factions of our society by severely limiting the resistance they may encounter when carrying out their evil deeds.

With that said, I do not see any overt acts in the 23 executive actions presented by our president last week that has any immediate effect on local law enforcement, and most certainly no affect on the Office of Sheriff.  In fact, of the 23 executive actions mentioned, only three of them are executive orders.  Executive orders only apply to federal agencies under the direct control of the President.  Those three orders were to direct the Center for Disease Control to research causes and prevention of gun violence, to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations, and to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.

There has been a lot of talk on the federal level about banning assault weapons, limiting high-capacity magazines, and instituting a universal background check for all firearm transactions.  As I already stated, I don’t believe any of these measures will actually increase the safety of the public, but more importantly and fundamentally, I believe that enacting these types of legislation would in fact “infringe” upon the constitutional right of free and law-abiding people to be freely armed.

The unfortunate fact still exists, that violence is present in our culture and requires serious attention to tame.  Guns however, are nothing more than a tool in the hands of people making the decision to do harm.  Our efforts would and will be better spent focused on the decisions that people make and what influences those decisions, than with the tools they use in their acts of terrible violence.  To be fair, the President, in his presentation did also address some ways to seek solutions to this, the real problem.

The most common theme in the questions that are posed to me by Yuma County community members surrounding this issue is, “what will you do when the federal government comes knocking on my door to seize my guns?”  The most basic answer is that they will have to come through me to get to you, and I will stand against any unconstitutional attempt to collect guns of law-abiding citizens in Yuma County.

I have also been asked what I will do when the federal government attempts to direct me and my office to collect law-abiding citizen’s guns.  A County Sheriff does not have the authority to enforce federal law or federal directives and I don’t believe the federal government would ask me to do such thing.  If that were the case we would have seen a very different response, by Sheriffs in Colorado in the last few years, to changes in our state statutes surrounding the use of marijuana for any purpose.

The constitutional office of Sheriff is one that is given power, authority, discretion, and responsibility by the people of a particular County, not by any other arm of the government.  This includes other County government offices, such as the County Commissioners office, all the way up through state government to the President of this country.  Subservience to any person or group other than the citizens of his County does not fall in line with the design and purpose of the constitutional office of County Sheriff.  This discussion is one of the best illustrations of that fact and I hope it provides some level of comfort to those that may be concerned about the reach of the federal government into our lives.

I am proud to be your Sheriff and take seriously the responsibility of standing up for your God-given liberties as free Americans that so many have fought and died for.