Lewis & Clark County

Jan 28, 2013 11:12 AM by KXLH

Lewis & Clark County Sheriff weighs in on gun debate

President Obama last week laid out a comprehensive package for reducing gun violence in America, a multi-part plan he says will not only "help prevent mass shootings" but also to "reduce the broader epidemic of gun violence in this country."

Among the initiatives outlined in Mr. Obama's plan include universal background checks for gun sales, the reinstatement and strengthening of the assault weapons ban, capping ammunition magazines to a 10-round limit, banning armor-piercing ammunition, providing schools with resource officers and school counselors, and ensuring that health insurance plans cover mental health benefits.

Several Sheriffs in Montana have reacted to the proposed new guidelines.

Lewis & Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton says since the President signed the executive orders, many county residents want to know where he stands.

Though no federal mandate has been ordered, Dutton says he will not take away guns from anyone who is law abiding and he doesn't support confiscation of any guns.

Sheriff Dutton said, "If you have used a gun in the commission of what would consitutue a crime, yes, we will be there and our citizens expect us to do that, to keep them safe, so it is not an 'Olly oxen free' about using a gun for anything, but I do believe that weapons do keep a free society."

Dutton says he'd like to see more aid for school resource officers and more money allocated to deal with mental health issues.

Sheriff Dutton's sentiments echo those of Sheriff Bob Edwards of Cascade County.

Sheriff Edwards said that there are already state and federal laws in place intended to curb gun violence, but believes more needs to be done with the state of mental health. Edwards noted that mental illness is not the root of all problems regarding gun violence, but the mind plays a factor.

Edwards said that regardless of what laws are passed, he'll never enforce a law that he thinks infringes on residents' constitutional rights, and said that he swore to protect the citizens, and that's exactly what he intends to do.

Sanders County Sheriff Tom Rummel sent a letter to county residents on Monday outlining his position.

In the letter, Rummel said he wanted to clear up any doubts about his stance on gun control and the Constitution, stating that the right to self defense is first and foremost "God-given," and that this right is protected in both the U.S. and Montana Constutions.

He ended the letter by saying that he and his deputies will not enforce any federal regulations enacted by Congress or Executive orders of the President circumventing the rights of the citizens of Sanders County.

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