More Oregon sheriffs join resistance to new gun laws

EUGENE, Ore. — More sheriffs in Oregon say they won’t enforce proposed new federal laws that could affect law-abiding gun owners.

Sheriffs from Douglas, Grant and Crook counties have followed Linn County Sheriff Tim Mueller’s lead in telling Vice President Joe Biden in a letter that they wouldn’t work with federal officials to enforce potential gun laws they consider unconstitutional,.

Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin says he expects more of his counterparts in Oregon to follow suit.

“I think the majority of the 36 sheriffs in the state are on the same page,” he told the Eugene Register-Guard.

Sheriffs such as Craig Zanni in Coos County and Mike Winters in Jackson County have made public statements backing Second Amendment rights but have not written to Biden.

Constituents have been pressuring sheriffs to express opposition to the new gun legislation.

“I literally have a kink in my neck from being on the phone all day with people, talking about this,” Zanni said.

Zanni said he didn’t disagree with Mueller and the other sheriffs who wrote Biden but said he waited until after reading about President Barack Obama’s proposals before issuing a letter to “the citizens of Coos County.”

Winters held a news conference to say he would not go so far as other sheriffs, but he said he would not support any effort that circumvented Second Amendment rights.

“The federal government is not going to come and seize one gun from the citizens of Jackson County,” he said.

The Medford Mail Tribune reported that the city’s police chief, Tim George, supports renewing a ban on assault weapons that expired in 2004.

“We had it for 10 years, and we didn’t see it have an effect on responsible firearms ownership,” he said.

Lane County Sheriff Tom Turner said he’s got more pressing issues to deal with, in a county with a law enforcement budget that has been severely cut. But he said he plans to follow Zanni’s lead in issuing a letter in response to the questions and comments he’s been getting.

A spokeswoman with the Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association said the group had not taken a formal stand.

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