While the folks on Capitol Hill prepare to slug it out over president Obama's proposed new gun laws, some law enforcement professionals have threatened to enforce only those laws they feel are constitutional.
In a three-page statement, dated Jan. 22, Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson broke his silence and dinged rogue sheriffs and other public safety professionals who plan to selectively apply the new measures.
“Although I have great respect and admiration for each of my colleague sheriffs and police chiefs across the country, I take exception with the handful of public servants who have suggested that they would reject enforcement of any `unconstitutional mandates,' specifically related to the Second Amendment,” said Robinson, a 40-year law enforcement veteran.
Robinson points out positions of authority don't always equate to the ability to arbitrarily determine constitutionality.
“If an issue were to be arbitrarily deemed `unconstitutional,' the decision to curtail further enforcement responsibilities would be in direct conflict with the concept of the balance of powers as defined by our founders,” he said.
Public safety professionals serving in the executive branch, according to Robinson, do not have the authority, responsibility, and in most cases, the credentials, to determine the constitutionality of any issue.
That authority is reserved for the judicial branch, as defined by the Constitution, he added.
“For a public safety professional to suggest they can determine the constitutionality of an issue and establish public policy based on that ill-conceived notion, would be tantamount to a police officer arresting an individual, determining guilt and sentencing the individual to incarceration in the county jail,” Robinson said. “This is not how our principle-based, constitutional system, functions. We are a nation of laws.”
Robinson went on to say there's more to curtailing gun violence than just the guns.
“Reviews of recent tragedies include three themes: guns, death/injury and the perpetrator's mental health,” he said, adding that mental health is the one element that receives the least amount of intervention or prevention efforts, while being a significant cause of victimization.
“The nation's largest mental health treatment facilities are not hospitals,” said Robinson, “but are county jails and state prisons.”
Hi statement indicated he supports “meaningful sharing of information related to individuals suffering mental illness with families, treatment providers and public safety officials.”
He also said there is a fourth element that should be included in any responsible discussion about gun violence, and that's the impact of gangs and gang violence.
In his statement, Robinson said he supports aggressive prosecution of those who commit crimes involving firearms, thorough background checks and the preservation of privacy of those who legally own and safely possess firearms.
Robinson also makes a call to action for citizens to “acknowledge the culture of violence” associated with the Internet, violent video games and violent movies.
“While acts of violence will still, sadly, continue to victimize our community and our country, an obligation exists to be engaged and demand well-considered, meaningful and sustainable solutions.”