National Gun Debate Continues
It has been just over a month since the tragic and senseless killing of children and school staff in Newtown Connecticut.
Immediately following the incident, discussion centered on school safety. On a local level, we have been working alongside school administrators to review our law enforcement policies, school safety plans, and have recently attended crisis response training together.
Meanwhile, the national discussion transitioned from keeping kids safe at school to the 2nd Amendment.
The Vice-President was tasked with looking at the issue of mass killings and then make recommendations to the President who would consider issuing Executive Orders based on the findings.
Executive Orders, regardless of the President’s political party, concern me because they can seemingly bypass the legislative process, and the people’s representatives – their voices - are not heard.
Prior to the President announcing his Executive Orders, I started getting phone calls from Cherokee County residents asking my view and wanting to know if I agreed with a federal seizure of guns.
Those questions stemmed from some reports, and resulting concern, indicating the federal government may begin confiscating American Citizen's firearms, or implementing new restrictions and regulations regarding the 2nd Amendment.
As I read the list of Executive Orders issued on January 16th, it appears that they mainly go towards increasing the effectiveness of existing tools. They do not relate to the seizing of firearms, registering guns, gun styles or magazine capacity.
Several of the executive orders address shortcomings in the current background check system, such as the sharing of information to that system.
I think it's clear that those who commit mass killings are not mentally stable. Their actions are homicidal and often suicidal in nature.
I also believe, and think that most people would agree, that it’s not safe for society when those who have been diagnosed with suicidal and homicidal tendencies purchase or possess firearms.
But if that information is not included in the background check database how are firearms dealers supposed to know about their illness? That is one of the flaws addressed by the executive orders.
While additional laws have been talked about, they have yet to be introduced by Congress.
Should any of those laws actually be passed, and found to be constitutionally questionable, they will then have to be scrutinized by the Supreme Court.
I've recently re-read the Kansas Constitution, the United Sates Constitution and Supreme Court cases addressing the 2nd Amendment.
So, where do I stand?
I want our kids, teachers and school staff to be safe at school.
I support the rights of law-abiding citizen's to keep and bear arms, as guaranteed by the 2nd Amendment, though I have a concern with criminals or those who are mentally disturbed possessing firearms.
I agree that a good way to make sure criminals and those with mental illness aren't obtaining guns is by conducting background checks prior to purchasing a firearm. I agree that any information that would disqualify someone from legally purchasing a firearm should be included in the national background check database.
I support the executive orders providing additional active shooter training to law enforcement and first responders, providing incentives for schools to hire additional school resource officers and developing model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.
And, while I have great working relationships with many dedicated and patriotic federal agents, who have worked with my office successfully several times, what I don't support and won’t authorize is the unlawful seizure of firearms from law abiding citizens, who possess those guns in accordance with the 2nd Amendment.
On two occasions, the second being just last week, I have had the honor, as your Sheriff, to take an Oath to support and defend the Constitution of the State of Kansas and the United States Constitution.
That's what I intend to do.
- Sheriff David M. Groves