COOS BAY, Ore.-- Just a few hours after releasing a letter voicing his support for the Second Amendment, Coos County Sheriff Craig Zanni spoke with KCBY News about what the letter means for the future of Coos County when it comes to enforcing gun laws.
Zanni joins Linn County Sheriff Tim Mueller, Crook County Sheriff Jim Hensley and Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin who have all written letters stating their strong support for the Second Amendment, but Zanni's letter was different in that instead of being addressed to Vice President Joe Biden, Zanni addressed his letter to the Citizens of Coos County.
"People are concerned 'well they're going to take away our rights'," Zanni said. "No, we wouldn't stand for that. I have a copy of the 23 executive orders that were given, and some of them quite frankly are humorous, because one is an order by the President ordering himself to nominate an ATF director which is his job anyways."
After a news conference Wednesday in which President Obama laid out a new gun control policy for the nation that would be enforced by executive order, Zanni said many people have called his office fearing their guns would be taken away from them, and that is why he released a statement saying he was a supporter of the Second Amendment and the state's concealed carry laws.
"I just think people were anticipating some type of incident where somebody was going to say 'we're going to confiscate guns and take guns', and I have all 23 executive orders, and I don't see anything like that," he said.
Zanni said if anyone from any level of government came to the county to take away a law abiding citizen's gun, then he would not stand for it and would defend the person's right to have a gun.
Zanni said the letter was to reassure people that as long as they are law abiding citizens, then he will support their right to own a gun, but Zanni did say there were some executive orders he was pleased to see, such as ones that would offer more support to local law enforcement groups and increase attention on mental health.
"Most of the people [who carry out violent acts] are suffering from some form of mental illness, and we've put some type of stigma on somebody admitting they have a mental illness," he said. "So nobody wants to say anything, and that's the real issue. It's not about guns. It's about the people who commit these types of crimes."
Aside from reducing magazine clip sizes, banning assault weapons and more background checks, the sheriff said many of the orders are simply restating laws that he already enforces and that have been in place for years, and that people shouldn't expect drastic changes to how they already live their lives.
"The joke in my office is these orders could've been reduced to two things: the things you're supposed to do, do. The things you're not supposed to do, don't," he said.
Zanni said everyone wants a safer country, and now is not the time for hasty decisions made in the middle of the night. A sound policy about mental health and getting guns out of the hands of the mentally ill is what he would prefer to see.
"There is a lot of angst because it is an emotional issue involving the death of children," he said. "Everybody is concerned about that, and I don't care what side of the political spectrum you are."
If you have a concern about gun and mental health policy, Zanni said making violent threats will only get you into trouble. The best way is to contact your elected officials and become active in the political process.