As states across the country continue to pass gun safety laws, some sheriffs in several states have recently declared their intention not to enforce their state gun laws. In an op-ed in The Hill, Sheriff Michael Reese of Multnomah County, Oregon, offers an alternative view, stating that “refusing to comply with or enforce gun safety laws sets a dangerous precedent.”
“As the Sheriff of Multnomah County, Oregon, my duty is not to write laws or decide for myself if they pass constitutional review. My job is to respect the democratic process and enforce our laws to ensure public safety. The federal courts have upheld, time and again, reasonable restrictions on firearms.”
“It is up to our legislators to balance Second Amendment rights with the public safety needs of our communities as they draft our laws. And it is up to courts to weigh in if they overstep.”
Sheriff Reese’s words follow those of other law enforcement leaders who have spoken out about the duty of sheriffs to enforce gun safety laws. In March, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson stated that sheriffs in Washington are expected to follow the state’s gun laws. New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas warned sheriffs in his state that their actions send “a dangerous message to our communities that severely threatens the rule of law,” while exposing localities to financial liability. And in Colorado, Attorney General Phil Weiser told lawmakers last month that, “[t]he right thing to do for a sheriff who says ‘I can’t follow the law’ is to resign.”
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