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Hood River sheriff says no letter necessary on gun laws

While several Oregon sheriffs have written to the White House opposing “unconstitutional” gun control laws, Hood River County Sheriff Matt English will not be joining them.

“I’m not going to join and write a letter; I think some of it is premature,” English said. “Some of it came out before the Obama administration even issued anything.”

Last week, the sheriffs of Linn, Crook, Coos and Curry counties signed a letter to Vice President Joe Biden stating that “[a]ny federal regulation enacted by Congress or by executive order of the President offending the constitutional rights of my citizens shall not be enforced by me or my deputies, nor will I permit the enforcement of any unconstitutional regulations or orders by federal officers within the borders” of their counties.

English said it was part of a sheriff’s job description to protect everyone’s rights.

“All sheriffs take an oath to uphold the Constitution, laws of Oregon, and for me, the laws of Hood River County,” he said. “One of our jobs is to protect people’s rights — and that includes the Second Amendment . . . some of those proposals make a lot of sense; we need better care for mentally ill and better background checks. I don’t see anything in there where they are going to come and take people’s weapons away.”

Last week, President Obama outlined gun regulations he wants to see congress pass including a renewal of an assault weapons ban, a ban on high-capacity magazines and universal background checks. He also called for the approval of a permanent director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and signed more than 20 executive orders which included provisions for additional mental health funding and research on gun violence.

The sheriffs from the counties neighboring Hood River county to the east and west have also weighed in on the controversy, with Wasco County Sheriff Rick Eslund also calling concerns over new gun control regulations “premature” and telling The Dalles Chronicle he would not be in favor of “taking people’s weapons away.”

A Multnomah County Sheriff’s spokesperson told The Oregonian that Sheriff Dan Staton “supports the rights of citizens.”

While several sheriffs have written letters and others have issued statements on their stance on the Second Amendment, English said he doesn’t see any need to further emphasize his position.

He said he was in favor of looking into options to help reduce gun violence but that “I don’t have anything to add publicly on it.”

The Oregon Sheriffs Association has yet to take up a position on either the executive orders signed by President Obama, or the recommendations the president put forward to Congress.

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