The sheriffs for Johnson and Livingston counties in Missouri say they oppose efforts to hinder the rights of Americans to bear arms.
Charles M. Heiss, the Johnson County sheriff, and Steve Cox, the Livingston County sheriff, expressed their concerns in letters to President Barack Obama.
"I am writing to you to express my concern with the tone of your administration with respect to the Second Amendment Rights of American citizens," the letters state. "It appears to me and many Americans that there is a genuine desire on the part of your administration to restrict the Second Amendment rights of law abiding American citizens in the interest of curbing gun violence in our nation."
The Second Amendment is central to a free society, the sheriffs said.
"Any attempt to restrict these Second Amendment rights through executive order is unconstitutional and tantamount to an all out assault on the United States Constitution. Just as the Fourth Amendment to the constitution guarantees our citizens the right to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable search and seizure, the Second Amendment guarantees each of us the right to keep and bear arms to protect ourselves from anyone who would seek to cause us harm. This includes the federal Government," the letter states.
The two men said history shows "that when a society does not possess the ability to defend itself it becomes ripe for victimization by criminals, and ripe for government oppression."
The sheriffs said they are asking other sheriffs in Missouri and across the United States "to rise to the defense and aid of all Americans should the federal government attempt to enact any legislation, or executive order that impedes, erodes, or otherwise diminishes their constitutional right to keep and bear arms. I will use all means legal to meet this solemn and sacred responsibility."
In an interview, Heiss said he could not sit back and do nothing about listening to the president's remarks this week.
"I am absolutely 100 percent pro-Second Amendment. I will not and cannot tolerate an assault on the Second Amendment," he said.
Heiss took office on Jan. 1, 1997. He said he is not a member of the National Rifle Association and owns many guns.
"I was troubled by the willingness to use executive order," Heiss said. "I think the appropriate way to do this is through Congress."
He opposes any attempt to ban so-called assault rifles or limit the capacity of magazines.
"I really don't have heartburn with people owning AR-15s or owning 30-round magazines for target shooting, the 30-round is pretty convenient," he said.
He said the nation needs to tackle its mental health problems.
"I firmly believe that the mental health apparatus in this country is broken," Heiss said. "Our county jails have become a dumping ground for the mentally ill. This is not the place for the mentally ill."
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