The Idaho Sheriffs Association passed a resolution at its annual legislative meeting in Boise this week calling for the states 44 sheriffs to enforce all laws, and stresses that its not up to sheriffs to interpret the constitutionality of a law. Thats the courts job.
The resolution comes as sheriffs across the country, including Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue, have questioned federal gun control orders from President Barack Obama.
Some of the recommended solutions are controversial to some and not as controversial to others, so what we sought was to find common ground in our own organization, said Vaughn Killeen, the associations executive director. The sheriffs clearly understand their role.
Donahue issued a statement Jan. 17 saying Obamas executive orders were political posturing that wouldnt accomplish anything: Im not going to fight hysteria with hysteria, he said. He did note that his office already enforces many of the presidents proposals.
Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney wrote an opinion piece in the idaho Statesman Jan. 25 saying he would enforce all laws, even ones with which he disagrees.
Hollow promises and threats will only divert people from doing the right thing honoring the truth and being involved in a process whereby our rights and liberties are protected by a respect of the law, not by rhetoric, wrote Raney, president of the state sheriffs association.
Donahue did not return a phone call seeking comment. Killeen said the Canyon sheriff supported the associations position.
Most dont want changes in restrictions on weapons, but again, they also recognize that they are law enforcement officers, Killeen said.
U.S. Attorney for Idaho Wendy Olson has said though federal authorities enjoy strong partnerships with local law enforcement, but federal agents can enforce laws on their own.
The statement from the state association mirrors that issued by the National Sheriffs Association Feb. 1. Both call for the cause of violence to be addressed on many fronts, including improved mental health treatment, media violence, drugs, gangs, breakdown of the family, strengthening laws that prevent or reduce the access of legally prohibited persons to firearms and vigorous enforcement of existing laws.
Killeen said all Idaho sheriffs strongly support improved mental health services and finding a way to identify would-be gun buyers who are mentally ill. Idaho law prohibits felons and people suffering from mental illness from possessing firearms. But how can access to mental health records be provided without violating privacy laws? Thats a discussion Idaho sheriffs hope to see an participate in.
People with mental health issues in Idaho can get concealed weapons permits all day long, Killeen said.
Other sheriffs, but not all, support banning certain types of weapons like high-capacity assault rifles.
Were a country with a culture of guns, and were really divided in that area, Killeen said. So how do we come to a common ground, and is common ground even possible?
Meghann M. Cuniff: 377-6418