Sheriff Mele to Obama: Gun control bad

Christina O'Haver, The Union Democrat

Tuolumne County Sheriff Jim Mele this week weighed in on the national gun debate, writing a defiant letter to President Barack Obama.

The letter was dated Jan. 22 and released to the media Wednesday.

It seemed to be spurred by Obama administration efforts, spearheaded by Vice President Joe Biden, to place limits on gun sales nationally.

A renewed ban on so-called "assault weapons" has been called for, as have new federal gun registration requirements.

"I believe that every law abiding adult citizen has the right to own, possess, use, keep and bear firearms," Mele wrote.

"… we will continue our fight for that which is right and that, is to protect and to serve the citizens of this County. I and the young hero's that serve our community, will not take guns from law-abiding citizens who have the right to protect themselves and their families."

Mele said in a telephone interview today that he would not enforce a law that he felt infringed on gun rights, noting that there are some other federal laws his office does not enforce.

"If that meant I had to step down, I would step down," he said.

Mele joins a parade of county law enforcement leaders across the United States - mostly concentrated in the West - weighing in on gun control.

They include several sheriffs in Colorado - who have staked out different positions on whether the Second Amendment grants gun rights to the mentally ill - and Kern County, Calif., Sheriff Donny Youngblood who's been lobbied by "Tea Party" activists, urging him to write Obama to urge the president to "uphold the Second Amendment."

Mele said he was not lobbied by anyone but has received "compelling" and "heartfelt" letters from citizens on both sides of the argument.

"This is something I felt strongly enough to do," Mele said. "As a citizen and as the sheriff, I felt that my opinion or my thought should at least be heard."

For the full letter text, see today's edition of The Union Democrat.

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The Union Democrat
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