Nevada County Sheriff Royal asserts right to bear arms |

Nevada County Sheriff Royal asserts right to bear arms

Assault weapons are displayed during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington to introduce legislation on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition feeding devices, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Arming teachers

Controversy continues to follow the gun control debate and seeped into Nevada County in recent weeks.

At a campus safety meeting in early January, Nevada County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Tim Werner personally advocated for arming teachers with guns to the approval of some nodding parents seated inside the school’s gymnasium.

“Arming teachers is way above the pay grade, but I personally think it’s a great idea,” Werner said to an audience of about 50 attendees. “But there are education codes, which prohibit that in California.”

Nevada County Sheriff Keith Royal said the potential for an accident or a misfire is part of what makes the idea of arming educators so challenging.

“It’s a very sensitive issue because of the number of shootings, but I think it needs further exploration before any decisions are made because it is state law, because of training, potential threat to other people and possible access to students or accidental discharges,” Royal said.

On December 21, the National Rifle Association called upon the U.S. Congress to set aside funds to hire armed guards to patrol high schools.

“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” said NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre during a Dec. 21 press conference.

Nevada County’s top law enforcement officer asserted U.S. citizens’ “right to acquire, own, possess, use, keep and bear firearms.”

Nevada County Sheriff Keith Royal issued a statement last week in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting — one of the worst shooting tragedies the United States has ever witnessed — cautioning lawmakers and citizens not to “let emotions rule the day when reforms are enacted.

“Recent events have precipitated discussions as to what can be done to prevent gun violence,” Royal said in the statement. “We all grieve over the suffering caused by gun violence and have a common interest to see that reforms work effectively in seeing that guns are not accessible to criminals and the mentally ill.”

While conceding the collective damage done to the nation needs to be addressed, Royal asserted the oath he took to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States commands him to protect the citizenry’s individual rights.

“Extreme reforms that compromise citizens’ rights and freedoms diminish the values on which our nation was founded and result in undermining our safety and security.”

— Nevada County Sheriff Keith Royal

“Extreme reforms that compromise citizens’ rights and freedoms diminish the values on which our nation was founded and result in undermining our safety and security,” Royal said.

“My continuing responsibility is to work closely with our citizens, schools, mental health professionals and well-trained law enforcement professionals in looking for effective means to reduce gun violence in our communities.”

Royal’s statement comes amid contentious national debate that has emanated from the aftermath of the Dec. 14 events in Newtown, Conn., where Adam Lanza shot and killed 26 people, including 20 children — eight boys and 12 girls aged 6 or 7 years old — and six female staff members.

Lanza, 20, used a Bushmaster XMI5-E2S rifle that held 30-round magazines and began his killing spree at 9:35 a.m. shortly after morning announcements at the elementary school. The New Haven Register reported he had finished shooting at around 9:46 a.m., meaning he shot from 50 to 100 rounds in a 10-minute period.

The three semi-automatic firearms found at the scene — the Bushmaster, a 10 mm Glock and 9 mm SIG Sauer — were all legally owned by Nancy Lanza, 52, a gun enthusiast who reportedly took her two sons to shooting ranges.

Immediately following the shooting, President Barack Obama called a press conference and said, “We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.”

Obama subsequently appointed Joe Biden to lead a Gun Violence Task Force to investigate the cause of gun violence throughout the nation.

Obama recently told The New Republic that gun-control advocates need to better respect the tradition of hunting in the U.S.

And I think those who dismiss that out of hand make a big mistake. Part of being able to move this forward is understanding the reality of guns in urban areas are very different from the realities of guns in rural areas,” he said in the article.

Obama has joined U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., in calling for a ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines along with other gun control policies, according to the Associated Press.

Feinstein, D-Calif., on Thursday introduced a bill that would prohibit 157 specific weapons and ammunition magazines that have more than 10 rounds. The White House and fellow Democrats are skeptical the measure is going anywhere, given lawmakers who are looking toward re-election might fear pro-gun voters and the National Rifle Association.

“This has always been an uphill fight. This has never been easy. This is the hardest of the hard,” Feinstein said. “I think I can get it passed because the American people are very much for it.”

Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the GOP vice presidential nominee in 2012, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Congress should focus on the causes of violence and not the weapons alone.

“We need to look beyond just recycling failed policies of the past. … Let’s go beyond just this debate and make sure we get deeper. What’s our policy on mental illness? What’s going on in our culture that produces this kind of thing? You know, we need to have that kind of a discussion and debate,” Ryan said.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email or call 530-477-4239.

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