Sheriffs up in arms over proposed gun regs
President Barack Obama will be receiving letters from several Missouri sheriffs who are standing together to stress the importance of the Second Amendment in response to the president's proposed gun controls.
The letter was authored by Sheriff Charles Heiss of Johnson County and circulated to members of the Missouri Sheriffs' Association.
Local sheriffs are standing together to stress the importance of the Second Amendment and to express the duty of an elected sheriff in defending the Constitutions of the United States and Missouri.
Other sheriffs across the nation are also sending letters.
On Wednesday, Jan. 16, the day Obama announced stricter gun control policies, Lawrence County Sheriff Brad DeLay reported that he was sending a letter to the president.
Barry County Sheriff Mick Epperly has yet to sign the letter, but said he would sign and send it after a little further review.
"We need to look into it a little more," he said. "There is a lot of good intent in the letter to uphold the Constitution."
Epperly believes in upholding the Second Amendment despite federal attempts at regulation.
"I will uphold the Constitution and protect people's right to bear arms and protect themselves," Epperly said. "If it comes down to trying to collect guns, I'm not going to be a part of it."
Epperly reminds concerned citizens calling his office regarding the proposed legislation that just because President Obama has signed off on the proposed changes they have not yet become law.
"I truly hope [Obama's] intent is not to collect weapons," Epperly said. "I hope legislation doesn't ever get to that point.
"The problem is every John Doe out there selling weapons is doing it without a background check," he continued. "Every transaction involving a weapon should have the required background check. That should apply to everyone.
"I would also like to see them [the federal government] put more money into schools to have law enforcement officers on the campuses," Epperly said. "It's sad that it has come to that, but it's where we are and I'm in favor of it.
"Teachers don't need to be packing," Epperly continued. "Many of them don't want to. They don't feel good about it."
Epperly also hopes more funding will go toward mental health.
"When they [the federal government] cut funding several years ago, it became a major issue for every law enforcement agency in the state," Epperly said. "If we pick up a person with alcohol or drug problems, they are observed for 96 hours and released. Ninety-six hours isn't going to cure that problem.
"Funding the Department of Mental Health would be a better deal for [law enforcement officials,]" he said.
Epperly also touched briefly on the concealed carry laws that are in place.
"I totally agree with the constitutional right for people to bear arms and protect themselves," Epperly said. "It has been proven in states where there is concealed carry laws that the crime rate has dropped."
With the federal government stepping up efforts to curb gun sales and ownership, Epperly has seen local repercussions.
"[Obama] is trying to implement too much control," Epperly said. "Gun sales are up in Barry County, as are concealed carry permit applications.
"People hope they never have to use their guns," Epperly said, "but they want the assurance they can if they need to."
Concealed carry classes and permits cost between $180 and $200. For more information on concealed carry requirements, visit www.http://lawrencecosheriff.com/press_view.php?id=519 or call the Barry County Sheriff's Office at 417-847-6556.