In a press release from all four sheriffs, they said, that as sheriff they “took an oath to support the Constitution and will stand by the Second Amendment. The sheriffs will aggressively oppose federal or state legislation which infringes upon law abiding citizens’ right to bear arms.”
The sheriffs — Jimmy Thomas of Pike County, Wendell Beam of Spalding County, Dan Kilgore of Upson County and Barry Babb of Fayette County — “further agree to support any legislation that would effectively penalize criminals who use firearms in the commission of crimes.”
The Georgia Sheriffs Association released the statement at its annual conference in Atlanta this week. The Georgia Sheriff’s Association is made of the sheriff’s from Georgia’s 159 counties.
The purpose of the Georgia Sheriff’s Association is to promote and improve law enforcement in Georgia, to provide training and education for sheriffs, deputy sheriffs and other sheriff’s office staff, and to maintain an active voice in the Georgia General Assembly on matters relating to public safety, law enforcement and Georgia’s criminal and juvenile justice systems.
The current president of the Georgia Sheriff’s Association is Sheriff Howard Sills of Putnam County, who made similar statements in a letter dated Jan. 14, to U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss and published with permission on the WeArePolitcs.com website out of Macon. Sills said the letter was written from him, “individually as sheriff of Putnam County and in my capacity as an American citizen.”
In the letter, Sills wrote of his concerns about Congress and the media’s reaction Sandy Hook and similar horrific tragedies, and the erroneous immediate focus on guns as the cause. “This is what has precipitated my fears for the country,” Sills said.
“It is my greatest fear,” he wrote, “that legislation banning or requiring the registration of guns the public can now legally possess will force our best citizens to a precipice where they will turn their backs on the law. Beyond that point, there will be only a slippery slope where only more laws will be ignored and not complied with.”
As a sheriff in Wisconsin recently noted, Sills also pointed out, “I expect my citizens to defend themselves from harm until we arrive on the scene, and I have a sense of comfort in knowing the vast majority of them are well armed and have the ability to protect themselves.”
Sills said the cause of most violent crime is not guns, but “a combination of mental health issues and the failure to prosecute, punish and keep recidivist criminals in confinement.” He cited numerous recent instances of both including “when it comes to mentally deranged people, the state of Georgia has simply abandoned its responsibility to protect them or the public they endanger.”
He said “the sheriffs of Georgia have evolved into being the largest providers of mental health services in the state as a significant portion of inmates suffer from a myriad of mental problems. This shouldn’t be our duty and it is something we are not equipped nor funded for.”
In conclusion, Sills told Chambliss, “Senator, we have a plethora of laws already in existence that can effectively deal with the unlawful possession and use of firearms of any kind by criminals. I would support any legislation that mandated a sure, swift and severe penalty for any criminal possession and use of a gun, but I will not support, aid, enforce, nor condone any effort or legislation that will infringe upon the right of law abiding citizen’s to bear firearms.”
He told Chambliss, “you took the same oath I did, and it was to support and defend our Constitution. I implore you to do so at this crucial point in time.”