The Montana Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association will not infringe on the right to bear arms, the organization said in a statement Tuesday.
Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin, who is the organization’s first vice president, sent the prepared statement, saying the association opposes any legislation that takes away constitutional protections, including gun rights, from law-abiding citizens.
However, the statement said, no legislation affecting the right to bear arms has been introduced in the Montana Legislature.
Taking guns away from citizens doesn’t alleviate or eliminate the threat of violence, but in fact exposes people to violence, because they would have less protection, the organization said.
Recent assaults including firearms, such as the December massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., are not the fault of guns, but of the “often mentally disturbed” shooter, the organization said. The association will continue to support the efforts of the mental health community, the statement said.
“Now is the time to discuss violence in its totality,” the statement said. “The discussion must include stakeholders from all disciplines who are dedicated to and willing to address the myriad and complex issues related to the safety of our communities and our county.”
Noting that it respects the branches of government, the organization said it would continue to participate in the Montana Legislature on firearms issues.
On Jan. 22, Sanders County Sheriff Tom Rummel issued a statement in which he said neither he nor his deputies would “enforce any federal regulations enacted by Congress, or executive orders of the president circumventing the constitutional rights of the citizens of Sanders County.”
Sheriffs in Lake, Powell, Ravalli and Wibaux counties also issued statements saying they would either not participate in confiscating certain guns or refuse to enforce any new federal gun regulations.