02/28/13 Indiana’s Sheriffs join our Nation as we mourn the loss of the precious lives at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. In the aftermath of that tragic day, much focus has been directed at issues pertaining to guns and gun control.
While the debate stirs strong feelings across our country, Indiana’s Sheriffs have taken an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Indiana. Furthermore we have sworn to do this according to law and to the best of our ability.
The 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees our citizens the right to keep and bear arms. As sheriffs we recognize the rule of law and that the United States Supreme Court and our State courts have the authority to determine the constitutionality of all laws. The 2nd Amendment is no stranger to debate and has faced challenges since it was adopted by our forefathers in 1791. Now, just as then, it has been made very clear; law abiding citizens are guaranteed this right so that they may protect themselves from those who would place them in harm’s way.
While much of the debate has focused on firearms, Indiana’s Sheriffs believe firearms are inanimate objects that have no will of their own. They are merely instruments of violence exploited by those with evil intent. We also believe the energy of this debate would be better focused on the issues upon which we agree. It is critical that we continue to work to keep firearms out of the hands of those who would use them to commit acts of violence against our citizens.
We must increase our efforts to identify individuals with malevolent intent in advance and better use the system currently in place to prevent them from gaining access to firearms. The approach to this multi-faceted problem must be comprehensive in nature. In addition to the vigorous prosecution for those who break the law, we must also focus our efforts on strengthening the safety and security of our school facilities, providing better access to mental health treatment, and enhancing training and resources for those who may be targets of violence.
Indiana’s Sheriffs also recognize that no attempt to prevent the violence that occurred at Sandy Hook will be complete unless we find a way to address the culture of violence that negatively impacts today’s youth. While these tasks may seem daunting, sheriffs stand ready for the challenge and the opportunity to address these issues.
As Indiana’s Constitutional Sheriffs, we remain focused on solutions, but we will not accept any concept that separates law abiding citizens from their 2nd Amendment Rights without due process. The authority of the Office of Sheriff is derived from the Indiana Constitution and those who have entrusted us with our office. Those documents bind us together as a people, both as Hoosiers and as Americans. At a time when those who are governed have less trust in those who govern, it is important that we hold steadfast in our beliefs. We must focus our attention not on what divides us, but instead, on what keeps us together!