Sheriffs from Boyle, Lincoln and Mercer counties told a Boyle 9-12 gathering Monday night it is unlikely the federal government will try to ban guns.
The group, which meets monthly to discuss constitutional issues, held a sheriff’s forum at Mallard’s restaurant to seek answers to one main question: If laws are passed to confiscate firearms, what will the sheriff do?
Boyle County Sheriff Marty Elliott said he is “very passionate about firearms” and that it is his job to “make sure your rights are not infringed upon.”
Residents described scenarios for the sheriffs, such as the government demanding that police confiscate weapons, and asked if the sheriff would follow such orders.
Elliott said that is not likely to happen.
“That’s such a blatant violation of the Second Amendment,” he said.
Lincoln County Sheriff Curt Folger agreed, saying he answers to the voters who elected him and that he “has their backs.”
“There’s no one that’s going to come and take away our guns,” Folger said.
Not satisfied, the crowd pushed with another question: Would the sheriff arrest a federal agent who arrived, with search warrant, to infringe upon constitutional rights such as taking a citizen’s firearm away?
Mercer County Sheriff Ernie Kelty said that question was hard to answer for several reasons. How did the agent obtain the warrant? Did the citizen have a prior criminal offense prohibiting the right to bear arms?
Elliott chimed in saying that if the search warrant was unconstitutional, he would be there to help the resident. And that the only way to fight that would be through the court system.
Kelty said while citizens have a right to bear firearms, there’s simply “no easy solution to gun control.”
He agreed with Elliott and Folger that it is unlikely a strict ban would be passed on firearms, but it is possible stricter laws may appear to monitor who can carry and who cannot.
Right now, sheriffs assist state police in reviewing concealed carry licenses, but the three agreed it’s the people not licensed to carry who pose the biggest threat.
Therefore, gun owners need to be licensed to carry and know how to operate their firearms.
“If you own a firearm, be responsible to know how to use it,” Kelty said. “Make sure you don’t become a victim of your own weapon.”
The sheriffs also discussed the benefits and protection of carrying a gun.
With drugs being the No. 1 battle in all three counties, Kelty said 90 percent of crime, such as burglary, relates back to drug users.
Firearms can assist homeowners during burglaries and have proven to do so in local areas recently, he said.
Elliott added to Kelty’s statement that people need to be able to fight back, because by the time law enforcement arrives on a scene, the worst is usually over.
“If someone’s about to take my life, I’m fighting,” said Elliott.