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York County Sheriff reacts to gun control proposals in Washington

In the weeks since the deadly school shootings in Newtown, Conn., efforts to shore up the nation’s gun control laws have taken center stage in Washington. Last week, President Obama issued his own ideas on how to prevent gun violence, a measure that pleased some and angered others.

Over the weekend, York County Sheriff Bruce Bryant released his opinion on the matter, saying that the president has no control over his office — or an Sheriff’s office in the country.

In the written statement, Bryant said the focus should be on responsible gun ownership. “As a federally protected right, [gun control issues] should be addressed with your United States Congressmen and Senators.” Bryant said. “They must balance our Second Amendment right with the need to prohibit mentally impaired individuals or convicted felons from gun ownership and access to guns.”

Bryant’s full statement is below:

“First and foremost, no President of the United States has any authority over the office of any sheriff in America.  As President, he may address federal law-enforcement agencies, but not local agencies.  Nor do sheriffs possess the authority to enforce federal laws or presidential orders; only federal law enforcement agencies may do so.

One should also remember that the US Constitution does not say one word regarding the office of sheriff, which is purely a state office.  In some states, the office of sheriff is statutorily created; in others, it is constitutionally created.  The office of Sheriff is a constitutional office within the State of South Carolina.  The federal government cannot force or coerce a state or local official to perform a function to which they may object.

I will take care of my county by upholding the Constitution of the State of South Carolina and the Constitution of the United States, including our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

Responsible gun ownership is the constitutional right of American citizens.  As a federally protected right, this issue should be addressed with your United States Congressmen and Senators.  They must balance our Second Amendment right with the need to prohibit mentally impaired individuals or convicted felons from gun ownership and access to guns.  Our elected Federal Legislators have the power to protect your rights.

This being said, I will not enforce any law that will infringe upon our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.   I will also do everything in my power to protect the citizens of my county.”

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