Utah sheriffs send letter to president, they will defend rights to firearms

ST. GEORGE – Adding their collective voice to the mounting gun control debate, the Utah Sheriff’s Association sent an open letter to President Barack Obama. stating they would defend the Second Amendment and enforce the rights of the citizenry to bear arms. The letter goes as far as to state: “No federal official will be permitted to descend upon our constituents and take from them what the Bill of Rights – in particular Amendment II – has given them.”

The sentiment is echoed by county sheriffs in various parts of the country.

As reported by KLTV in Texas, Sheriff Larry Smith, of Smith County, Texas, said he wouldn’t enforce gun laws he considered unconstitutional.

“I will not enforce an unconstitutional law against any citizen in Smith County,” Smith said. “It just won’t happen.”

In Idaho, as reported by KTVB, Keiran Donahue, Canyon County Sheriff, said: … Gun ownership is not a political issue; it is a constitutional right … I swore an oath to uphold the Constitution, enforce the law, and protect my community, and that’s what I’ll do.”

In Missouri, Sheriff Steve Cox, Livingston County Sheriff, told StJoeChannel.com he sent his own letter to the president in which he stated, “I personally and professionally believe there are many other useful ways to better help in educating and protecting our population than by dismantling the Constitution.”

The letter from the Utah Sheriff’s Association joins countless others in the debate for and against gun control that continues to mount at the doorsteps of Congress and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

The following is the letter in its entirety:

7 January 2013

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama:

We, the elected sheriffs of Utah, like so many of our fellow Americans, are literally heartbroken for the loved ones of the murdered victims in Connecticut. As Utahans, we are not strangers to this kind of carnage – one of the latest being the 2007 Trolley Square murders wherein nine innocents were gunned down – five losing their lives.

We also recognize the scores of other recent domestic massacres, which have decimated countless honorable lives. As Americans, we value the sanctity of life. Furthermore, similar to our inspired Founders, we acknowledge our subservience to a higher power.

With the number of mass shootings America has endured, it is easy to demonize firearms; it is also foolish and prejudiced. Firearms are nothing more than instruments, valuable and potentially dangerous, but instruments nonetheless. Malevolent souls, like the criminals who commit mass murders, will always exploit valuable instruments in the pursuit of evil. As professional peace officers, if we understand nothing else, we understand this: lawful violence must sometimes be employed to deter and stop criminal violence. Consequently, the citizenry must continue its ability to keep and bear arms, including arms that adequately protect them from all types of illegality.

As your administration and Congress continue to grapple with the complex issue of firearm regulations, we pray that the Almighty will guide the People’s Representatives collectively. For that reason, it is imperative this discussion be had in Congress, not silenced unilaterally by executive orders. As you deliberate, please remember the Founders of this great nation created the Constitution, and its accompanying Bill of Rights, in an effort to protect citizens from all forms of tyrannical subjugation.

We respect the Office of the President of the United States of America. But, make no mistake, as the duly-elected sheriffs of our respective counties, we will enforce the rights guaranteed to our citizens by the Constitution. No federal official will be permitted to descend upon our constituents and take from them what the Bill of Rights-in particular Amendment II-has given them. We, like you, swore a solemn oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and we are prepared to trade our lives for the preservation of its traditional interpretation.

The Utah Sheriffs’ Association

PDF of the letter with the names of the endorsing county sheriffs. Absent from the list of sheriffs is Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder.

The letter can also be found on the Washington County Sheriff’s website.

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Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

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  • Ron January 19, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    I haven’t seen anything in the President’s proposed gun control legislation to suggest that federal agents are going to confiscate guns. More NRA paranoia!

    • Alvin January 19, 2013 at 8:55 pm

      This battle is not all about the NRA. They have about 5 million members and they do have some political clout, but there are another 70-80 million (?) gun owners who are not NRA members. ALL gun owners are concerned about Obama’s latest announcement and recommendations he asked the Congress to do. This announcement by the Sheriff’s Assoc. is about the 2nd amendment and the importance of not infringing on that right not some NRA paranoia campaign.

  • Snowfield January 19, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    This in the county where if anyone dared express any dissent during the Bush administration you’d get attacked as a “traitor in a time of war” who should be shot or deported. Total militant loyalty when the administration is Republican, the total opposite when he administration is Democratic. I remember telling people who were in favor of things like the patriot act that the worm would turn but despotism is apparently alright so long as the right people hold the reigns. That’s why the puffery of our local officials is so completely and utterly hollow.

    • ken January 21, 2013 at 4:50 pm

      Good … what bunk is this?

      Ed. ellipsis

    • chupacabra March 8, 2016 at 12:10 pm

      Nailed it. We see this currently as the House shut down the MMJ bill. Utah supports free agency as long as it agrees with the ideology of our religious puppetmasters.

      Think People. Google Voluntaryism!

  • jen January 19, 2013 at 8:36 pm

    @ Ron: The proposed gun control legislation is merely a stepping stone to do just that. Even those of us that are not members of the NRA can see that! Read your history books and see what happened after these type of gun control laws were passed in other countries, start with Austria during WW2 (1938).
    “If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must Man be of learning from experience.”
    George Bernard Shaw

  • Jade January 19, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    Nazi, Germany on our horizon…….

  • Sam January 20, 2013 at 10:05 am

    I appluad the sheriffs for speaking out for our 2nd Amendment however where was the conviction when the 4th Amendment was pissed on with the “probable cause” addition?
    How many innocence have died protecting there property from illegal search and seizures?
    Where was the passion when our 6th Amendment was taken from us with the passing of the NDAA?
    Where was the outcry when the first U.S. citizen was denied due process and assainated?
    In the words of Ben Franklin Any nation that would trade liberty for security shall deserve neither and lose both!

  • Fred January 20, 2013 at 10:42 am

    I am glad the Sheriffs are taking this important stand. Barry (Obama) wants to shred the 2nd Amendment.
    This is what all dictators down through history first started with, disarm the population. No way to fight back.

    Sam is right about the NDAA. What about that unconstitutional law? I thought there would be a nationwide protest over that. Suppose Barry says gun owners who do not turn in their guns are terrorists and he uses the NDAA Bill and starts rounding them up?

  • Jerry Braun January 20, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    Thank you gentleman for standing up for are constitutional rights now is no time to crumble we know what is on the horizon once again thank you

  • Mark January 20, 2013 at 10:45 pm

    Apparently Jim Winder is the only sane and educated sheriff in the state. I am a supporter of the second amendment, but I find this letter disturbing. It’s lawless and arrogant… exactly the qualities that we should NOT have in our sheriffs. Disgusting.

    • Jerry January 21, 2013 at 7:31 am

      @Mark – The only thing disturbing is people like you who do not understand why so many gave their lives for rights like these. This letter is not lawless – it carries the exact spirit that our founding fathers fought with when the U.S. was born, and it’s perfectly appropriate given the extreme tyrannical path Barack Obama is trying to take this country. The whole idea behind the United States of America is to be governed as little as possible. How can you not see where Obama is taking this country? I for one am not going to let it go without a fight!

      • Markus January 21, 2013 at 8:49 am

        Stop blaming only Obama. The congress and George Bush jr and sr did just as much to ruin this country. Stop being so naive that you think the republicans are any better than the democrats.

      • ken January 21, 2013 at 4:49 pm

        I find the letter disturbing also! I am a gun owner and support the 2nd Amendment too! I will put my DD-214 up and then Jerry you can tell me all about the people who gave their lives! Been there done that and get a government check every month.

  • Scott Clayton January 21, 2013 at 10:49 am

    When police respond to a heated conflict between people they try to diffuse the situation and let calmer heads prevail. Competent officers of the law do not incite or inflame the passions.

    In this case, the Utah Sheriff’s Association failed in that basic police procedure. They did not wait to read the president’s executive orders and proposed laws. None of the president’s orders or proposals infringe on the second Amendment.

    If the sheriffs had waited to read the executive orders before issuing their confrontational letter they would have learned that the orders are modest steps to strengthen the background check system, review the procedures to keep guns from the hands of dangerous people, and provide local law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.

    Instead of waiting to assess the situation and let calmer heads prevail, the sheriffs issued their incendiary letter anticipating federal officials will ‘descend upon our constituents’. And rather than pledging fidelity to the rule of law and due process, they threaten to “trade our lives” for the ‘traditional’ interpretation of the US Constitution. Inciting fear by the public and vowing escalation of passion is not good police work.

    The sheriffs’ letter is an affront to our system of government. I am relieved and gratified that my county sheriff, Jim Winder, had the common sense and intelligence to not sign that letter.

    • John January 21, 2013 at 11:48 am

      What about high capacity mags, and the classification of an assault weapon? All infringements on the second amendment.

      This letter is necessary because history has shown that tyranny starts with executive orders like these.

      • Scott Clayton January 21, 2013 at 12:56 pm

        Good points – if you or the sheriffs believe banning high capacity magazines or assault weapons violate the 2nd Amendment, there are accepted methods to express your opinion peacefully without threatening armed insurrection against the duly constituted authorities. Your outrageous claim that ‘tyranny starts with executive orders’ demands extraordinary proof. We have a system of laws and due process that has worked for a couple hundred years and jumping to a conclusion that those American institutions will crumble because the issue is guns is bogus.

        • Sam January 21, 2013 at 1:11 pm

          I agree with John. This is exactly what happened to Australia, just ask its citizens how they feel about gun control.
          Scott, I don’t think we can rely on the integrity of a “system” with corrupt politicians all over the place. Also, I think it’s smart for people to be suspicious of our government, what else would keep us from tyranny?
          I do believe that banning high capacity mags or “assualt weapons” (as they claim them to be – they’re not) are an infringement on the second amendment.

        • John January 21, 2013 at 1:41 pm

          I was not saying that tyranny starts with executive orders, but executive orders ‘like these’ – from someone who is clearly one of the biggest liars in American history, regarding something that clearly violates the very principles and rights that aided the formation of America in the first place – which are still necessary to prevent tyranny. Wake up, moron.

          • John January 21, 2013 at 1:42 pm

            @ Scott – I was not saying that tyranny starts with executive orders, but executive orders ‘like these’ – from someone who is clearly one of the biggest liars in American history, regarding something that clearly violates the very principles and rights that aided the formation of America in the first place – which are still necessary to prevent tyranny. Wake up, moron.

          • ken January 21, 2013 at 4:43 pm

            Wow you strength your point by calling someone a moron! You only prove what is already known by most!

  • Awlcsw January 21, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    Hey Dummies! Nobody is trying to take away your guns.

    • ken January 21, 2013 at 4:41 pm

      No but their paranoia is amusing! Next I’m sure they will want RPG’s for defending their homes! When will the chest pumping stop and common sense prevail?

  • Katie January 22, 2013 at 9:01 am

    I fully agree with the Sheriffs of Utah. The Nazis started out with taking away “little” liberties & look how that turned out.

    But I would like to know where are the law enforcement officials & judges, both sworn to protect American’s individual liberties against unlawful search & seizure? Another slippery slope. The last two times I had to fly (once for business, so I had no choice in the matter) I got groped AFTER I submitted to going through Albuquerque’s naked scanners! I’m a white female, no foreign accent, dressed modestly, followed all of their little rules & STILL GOT GROPED! Used to be, you got a pat down for weapons AFTER you had been pulled over or stopped on suspicion of breaking a law or after being observed to break a law. Now apparently you are subject to search & seizure at whim.

    As Benjamin Franklin said: Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

  • jason January 22, 2013 at 1:50 pm

    If its only paranoia then what do u care. Frankly I’m sick and tired of any federal official string to take away my individual rights for collectivism. Just maybe letters like this that absolutely say there is a line in the sand. Just because u don’t belive in my god given rights to protect my self, will never mean I will let u infringe on them. Obummer and bush are not god, as such they can and won’t he allowed to stand against that right. I suspect that if obummer and Eric holder knew about how many were willing togegive their lives to keep it, they would never mention it again. I’m sure they have gotten the word now… Let them try it if they think they can pull it off. This is America and we won’t let old european feudal socialist and the wanna be royals to kick personal freedom and my god given liberties out of north America. This letter only let’s them know they are going to have to take our liberties with force . Were not tired and weak minded socialists, so bring it. God forgive them if it comes to that. Let’s hope the progressives are not so stupid… We will see.

  • Meanie January 22, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    If the Feds go to Utah to enforce Obama’s illegal gun ban, there will be Civil War! Thousands of Americans from different states will rise up and come to their aid. In the end, there will be justice and freedom. America will be purged of unrighteousness.

    • ken January 22, 2013 at 4:35 pm

      The paranoia of some people is amusing yet sad! Make sure all your guns are locked and loaded for the bogey man! Seriously the chest thumping has gotten out of hand. I have shot many 16’s,4’s,60’s,249’s and they are made for one thing and one thing only! I have yet to hear one reasonable explanation why anyone needs more then a 10 round mag!

    • Ron January 31, 2013 at 2:13 pm

      Dream on, Meanie, dream on.

  • Gerald January 31, 2013 at 10:15 am

    Looks like Salt Lake County needs a new Sherriff.

  • Dan Moore January 31, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    I’m sorry. I know what I’m about to criticize is irrelevant to the broader discussion, but how do these jokers expect to be taken seriously when they start their letter by saying they are “literally heartbroken”. To say someone is heartbroken is a figurative expression. The organ in the person’s chest that pumps their blood did not, in fact, break. Oh well, I suppose that appearing thoughtful and well educated was not high on their priority list as indicated by the contents of the letter.

  • K January 31, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    I am quite disturbed that Jim Winder is, apparently, the only sheriff in Utah with a level head. This letter is ludicrous.

    P.S. As to all of this chest thumping about “protecting the Constitution,” do these people realize that we have, in fact, amended our Constitution several times when it seemed to be in the best interest of the populace? Now women can vote, for example. Also, even while still upholding the Second Amendment, guns could, and I think should, be more strictly regulated.

  • Starhawk March 16, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    Maybe the Utah sheriffs should start honoring ALL of the constitution and police their own state first lawfullyand remove all of the child slavery forced labor camps such as West Ridge…Just a thought. What about the rights in the constitution that are trampled on every ay by these same Utah sheriffs? That goes hugely ignored. Take St George for example. Video survellance everywhere, drones, Police taking dogs into our childrens schools and creating police state environments, all to create intimidation and fear in the population…What about those constitutinal violations Utah sheriffs? Oh, I see, you want to be able to pick and choose what amendments suit you. That just goes to show your self imposed imaginary entitlement. Until YOU start honoring ALL the freedoms in the constitution ..you deserve NONE!

  • DICK January 31, 2014 at 8:52 pm


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