A growing list of sheriffs from all over the country who oppose increased gun control policies includes the name of Nevada County Sheriff Keith Royal.
Royal said he has never been contacted by Conservative activist and former Graham County, Arizona, Sheriff Richard Mack, whose Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association website contains a list on a page with the headline “Growing List of Sheriffs, Associations and Police Chiefs Saying ‘NO’ to Obama Gun Control.”
“Somebody has done research about sheriffs taking position in support of Constitutional rights,” Royal said. “I think what has happened is people are finding out who is taking positions and putting them on the list. That may be where they got my name.”
Royal was referencing a February letter that he, as the then-president of the California state Sheriffs’ Association, sent U.S. Vice President Joe Biden urging that any gun control measures focus on the access that mental health and criminals have to weapons.
“The primary issue we face is an access problem,” Royal wrote. “Criminals and persons with severe mental illness and/or substance abuse problems should not have access to firearms.”
Royal’s letter was written in the wake of last year’s deadly December shooting at a Newtown, Conn., school that left 20 children dead and led many Democrats to pledge to push for more gun control laws in 2013.
“If we are to avoid future tragedies and more fully protect the public, mental health issues in the context of gun ownership must be central to the national discussion,” Royal said.
But just because Royal didn’t proactively put his name on Mack’s list doesn’t mean he favors stricter gun laws, he said.
“I believe in those rights,” Royal said. “I think it’s important that we take a stand because we are a nation made up of individuals that support a Constitution that guarantees certain rights.”
Royal is not alone either. Sheriffs across the country are espousing similar viewpoints. Mack’s list, updated Wednesday, contains nearly 500 sheriffs’ names.
“It is the position of (California state Sheriffs’ Association), in accordance with the Constitution of the United States and the statutes of the state of California, that law-abiding persons who meet the established requirements have the right to acquire, own, possess, use, keep and bear firearms,” Royal wrote Biden in February. “This right shall not be infringed.”
Mack’s site cautions that a statement from a state association does not necessarily mean that every sheriff in that state supports it. One such case is Florida, where a statement was approved by a majority of the sheriffs in the association but not all.
Royal’s letter following the Newtown shooting came as Democrats pledged to push for more control laws in 2013, aided by billionaire New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who pledged $12 million to gun control efforts, and former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords’ Americans for Responsible Solutions, which raised $11 million in four months.
With funds to rival the National Rifle Association’s efforts, predictions were made that 2013 would herald a year of sweeping gun reforms.
Those plans did not pan out. Congress has enacted no new gun curbs since the Newtown shooting.
In April, the U.S. Senate fell four votes shy of the 60 needed to expand firearm purchase background checks and bolster laws against illegal gun traffic.
But Second Amendment defenders are still weary. Earlier this month, The Washington Times reported that former Florida congressman, Lt. Col. Allen West, cautioned Second Amendment defenders that all ammunition sold to civilian gun-owners in America will have to be imported and could increase prices as a result of a crackdown on sulfur dioxide, lead emissions and accompanying harsh Environmental Protection Agency regulations.
“California has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, yet incidents of gun violence continue to plague our state. We must continue to take steps to keep guns out of the hands of criminals,” Royal told Biden. “More attention to the mentally ill and the mental health systems in this country must be addressed.”
To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4236.