Union Democrat staff

Uneasy with Mele's position on gun laws

To the Editor:

Most of us who support a crackdown on assault weapons with large clips also fervently support the Second Amendment. It is a lie to suggest otherwise. I hope that our Sheriff department deputies never have to answer a call where an assault weapon has been turned on an innocent crowd. An end to the sales of these large clips and assault weapons does not end the problem; but we could eventually hope to see fewer national incidents. Each incident is a nightmare for every teacher in America.

It was an unsettling jolt to see the elected top gun in Tuolumne County, a sworn official, "...noting that there are some other federal laws his office does not enforce." We may not appreciate some of the federal laws, and we must have conversations about changing laws, but as a sworn official, our Sheriff may not be selective about which laws to enforce. He is aware that he has a choice between enforcing the law and stepping down. Mr. Mele, it is better that you hear this from someone who is friendly and respectful to you and your dedicated staff: I am uneasy with the notion that you are selectively enforcing the law. Your statement does a disservice to the employees of the department.

Yes, I am willing to fight for the right to bear arms, and I am willing to fight to reduce the number of innocents that can be slaughtered by one deeply disturbed individual.

Laurie Sylwester


A sheriff should uphold the laws

To the Editor:

I found the letter from Sheriff Mele on the issue of gun regulations quite well written and extremely interesting. I commend the Sheriff who, as a private citizen, has the energy and initiative to speak out on issues of public concern. I would love to know if and when the President responds.

More importantly, I am discouraged and saddened by a high-ranking law enforcement official that publicly declares that he is determined to break the law because he disagrees with that law. It is and has been determined that presidential executive orders are, in effect, laws that can only be overturned by the U.S. Congress. Acts by individuals to ignore or consciously violate the law is either criminal or, in the case of a public official, irresponsible. This becomes quite serious when the public official doing so is a law enforcement agent and should be committed to upholding and enforcing the law. This is the dedication we require from our military men and women, our foreign service employees and embassy staff all over the troubled world and from our heroic police and firefighters in our country. We should demand no less of our own sheriff in Tuolumne County

Jay Bell


Mele encouraged irrational dissent

To the Editor:

I have to wonder about Sheriff Mele's intentions for his Jan. 22 letter to President Obama. The letter will only further inflame critics of gun control legislation and thus decrease productive discussion about an important issue to our community and country by promulgating the myth that the President would like to "take guns from law-abiding citizens."

The plan promoted by the President (and that would need to be passed by our legislators) has no such wording in it. The Sheriff's letter reads like a threat that the he believes so strongly in the Constitution that he will not uphold any legislation that infringes upon it. Yet, nowhere in the Constitution does it say that every citizen has the right to own a machine gun, for example. Throughout our nation's history, citizens, through their representatives, have created laws that interpret the Second Amendment (a system set up by the Constitution).

The judicial branch of government has made rulings on these laws and part of the Sheriff's oath of service is to uphold all of these. Whether the Sheriff believes that "every law abiding adult citizen has the right to own, possess, keep, and bear arms" (does this included the mentally ill and felons and what does "arm" constitute?) or not is irrelevant. What kind of a message does it send to our community members, especially the youth, when our Sheriff implies that he will not follow a law he doesn't personally support? I concur with the Sheriff that the right to bear arms is an important one.

I would suggest though that letters like the Sheriff's do our community a disservice by encouraging a kind of irrational dissent while promoting myth's about how a change in gun control laws would work. If the Sheriff disagrees with any part of the President's proposed plan, he should address that directly instead of sending a message to our President and community that his personal beliefs are more important than the rule of law.

Lee Pagni


My feelings exactly, Sheriff Mele

To the Editor:

I would like to commend and thank Sheriff Jim Mele for the excellent letter he wrote to the President.

It was well stated and represented our feelings exactly!

Thanks again for standing up for our rights.

Donna Johnson


Mele tracked in mud from gun issue

To the Editor:

In his letter to President Obama, Sheriff Mele chose to muddy the waters of a controversial issue. He misrepresents gun control proposals as proposals to ban all guns. Proposed legislation would ban ownership of military-style assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines, as well as close loopholes in background checks.

Why do private citizens need to own military-style weapons or large capacity magazines? Who opposes background checks? The Sheriff's professional opinion on these questions would have been welcome information.

Sheriff Mele's defense of Second Amendment rights is confusing. The Second Amendment clearly states the need for regulation:

"A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

I support regulating ownership of military-style assault weapons and large capacity magazines, as well as closing loopholes in background checks.

If Mr. Mele in fact cannot in good conscience fulfill his oath to uphold the laws of our land, it seems he is obliged to resign.

Ellen Beck