(WGEM) - With gun control measures front and center of attention, and proposed legislation calling for stricter gun control, a couple of sheriffs in the tri-states say they won't enforce any laws that they feel go against the U.S. Constitution.
In Ralls County, Sheriff Gerry Dinwiddie says there are already enough gun laws. And he says he doesn't agree with the government taking away any guns, not even assault rifles.
"If you give (government) one gun they want them all," said Dinwiddie. "They don't want just one gun. And you ask any of the hard core gun people and they'll tell you they want all the guns."
And, he says, his residents would be very upset.
"You would have the people very upset and people who will fight to keep their guns. Because like I say, if you start taking one it's just a matter of time before they take 'em all."
One of the most common arguments expressed many times from many different residents of Ralls and Marion Counties is that if guns become illegal, any type of gun, the criminals will still have them, just as drugs are illegal and users still get those.
Still, there are some who say there's just no reason to have an assault rifle.
But Dinwiddie says talk on a ban on assault rifles has got people confused. Dinwiddie says that many people think of machine guns when they think of an assault rifle. And that the term "assault rifle" is misleading.
"All machine guns are illegal so when they say assault weapons, they're already illegal," said Dinwiddie.
A machine gun, by definition, is "a small arm operated by a mechanism, able to deliver a rapid and continuous fire of bullets as long as the trigger is pressed." They were banned under the National Firearms Act in 1934.
"They're confused because they're calling them assault rifles," Dinwiddie said. " An assault rifle can mean anything from a bolt action shot gun that you use for hunting to a semi-automatic AR that you use for varmint hunting."
Dinwiddie compared the proposed legislation to Hitler taking away guns in World War II. He points out that it didn't work out very well.
"I feel it's wrong because during World War II, Hitler passed the same law in Poland to take away the guns of the people and that didn't seem to work out very well," Dinwiddie said.
Dinwiddie says if the government takes them away, he certainly would not enforce that law. He says he feels it goes against the Constitution.
"I took an oath of office to enforce the Constitution of the United States and to enforce the Constitution of Missouri and that's what I will do."
Dinwiddie isn't alone. Sheriff Jimmy Shinn of Marion County says he will not enforce any gun law that he feels goes against the Constitution either and he says there are enough in place as it is.
Shinn said that the Constitution says any law that goes against the Constitution is not a law.
They are not the only sheriffs saying this. In Missouri, Sheriff Chuck Heiss of Johnson County and Steve Cox, the Livingston County sheriff, expressed their concerns in letters to President Barack Obama.
"I am writing to you to express my concern with the tone of your administration with respect to the Second Amendment Rights of American citizens," the letters state. "It appears to me and many Americans that there is a genuine desire on the part of your administration to restrict the Second Amendment rights of law abiding American citizens in the interest of curbing gun violence in our nation." The Second Amendment is central to a free society, the sheriffs said. "Any attempt to restrict these Second Amendment rights through executive order is unconstitutional and tantamount to an all out assault on the United States Constitution. Just as the Fourth Amendment to the constitution guarantees our citizens the right to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable search and seizure, the Second Amendment guarantees each of us the right to keep and bear arms to protect ourselves from anyone who would seek to cause us harm. This includes the federal Government," the letter states.
Sheriffs all around the nation are jumping on the bandwagon and writing letters to lawmakers expressing their concerns. So far, neither Shinn nor Dinwiddie have written a letter.
Dinwiddie shared some advice and hope for the residents of his county and those who feel their Second Amendment rights would be violated with any stricter gun laws.
"I think the people need to stand up and vote and vote their rights and try to change what they're trying to change and voting the only way we've got to really do it. Besides the other way which is not a pretty way," Dinwiddie said. "The people are gonna rise up against the.. you know trying to enforce these laws. Fight for their rights.
Everybody you talk to has a different way of fighting that. It might be as simple as 'I wont pay my taxes. I won't agree to vote for that person.' There's lots of ways that they're gonna fight it. You can't say that all people are gonna do it the same way."
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