The Colorado sheriff whose county includes the Batman shooting movie theater spoke out Tuesday against law enforcement officials who refuse to enforce gun regulations that they deem unconstitutional.
Sheriffs across the county have said in recent weeks that they will not enforce any new gun-control legislation that they think steps over the line -- a response to proposals offered by President Obama and many state lawmakers.
“Public safety professionals serving in the executive branch do not have the constitutional authority, responsibility, and in most cases, the credentials to determine the constitutionality of any issue,” Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said in a statement. Law enforcement officials should leave it to the courts to decide whether a law is constitutional or not.
Robinson’s deputies were among the officers who responded to the mass shooting in Aurora, where James Holmes allegedly killed 12 people and wounded dozens more last year.
“Acts of violence and gun violence have and will, sadly, continue to victimize our community and our country,” said Robinson, who identified himself as a supporter of the right to bear arms. “We all have an obligation to our families, neighbors, our community and our country to be engaged and to demand that well-considered, meaningful, and sustainable solutions to these senseless acts of violence are implemented in a timely manner.”
In the statement, Robinson also made a plea for better mental health services, stricter penalties for perpetrators of gun crimes, and more gang violence initiatives.
Sheriff Denny Peyman of Jackson County, Ky., is among the sheriffs who have said they would consider not enforcing new gun laws.
“Kentucky is a sovereign state,” Peyman told NBC News last week. “The federal government is coming in and saying, ‘This is what you’re going to do.’ We’re not going to do it.”
“Let’s say I know there’s a thousand assault weapons in my county,” Peyman said. “I’m not going to be a witch hunter and go door to door checking.”
Sheriff Tim Mueller of Linn County, Ore., sent a letter to Vice President Joe Biden dated January 14 in which he said politicians in favor of new gun laws are attempting to “exploit the deaths of innocent victims.”
Mueller also wrote that he would not allow federal officers to enforce “any unconstitutional regulations or orders” in Linn County.