Oregon college shooting: Douglas County sheriff claims gun control 'will not prevent school shootings'

John Hanlin was speaking after at least 10 people were killed by a gunman at a local college

Ian Johnston
Thursday 01 October 2015 23:33 BST
Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin addresses the media following a deadly shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon
Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin addresses the media following a deadly shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon

The sheriff of the Oregon county where 10 people were shot dead at a community college claimed that gun controls would not prevent “heinous crimes like school shootings” in a letter to US Vice-President Joe Biden two years ago.

John Hanlin, sheriff of Douglas County, also said in the letter that he would refuse to enforce gun laws that he considered to be unconstitutional and said he would not allow federal officers to do so in the county.

At the time, gun-control campaigners were pressing for reform after the Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut in December 2012, in which 20 children and six children were shot dead by 20-year-old Adam Lanza, who also killed his mother and himself.

At least 10 people were killed and seven others were wounded when a gunman opened fire at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Douglas County, on Thursday. The shooter died during an exchange of fire with police. It was the 45th shooting at a school in the US this year.

According to the Second Amendment to the US Constitution, which was adopted in 1791, “a well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”.

In his letter to Mr Biden in January 2013, Mr Hanlin said: "This letter serves two purposes. First, to make a formal request that you NOT tamper with or attempt to amend the 2nd Amendment.

“Gun control is NOT the answer to preventing heinous crimes like school shootings.

“Any actions against, or in disregard for our US Constitution and 2nd Amendment rights by the current administration would be irresponsible and an indisputable insult to the American people.”

He said that the US Supreme Court had ruled that a sheriff who enforced an unconstitutional law was “violating” his oath of office.

“I will NOT violate my Constitutional Oath,” Mr Hanlin wrote. “… any federal regulation enacted by Congress or by executive order of the President offending the Constitutional rights of my citizens shall not be enforced by me or by my deputies, nor will I permit the enforcement of any unconstitutional regulations or orders by federal officers within the borders of Douglas County, Oregon.”

He added that he agreed with Tim Mueller, sheriff of Linn County, who wrote to Mr Biden saying that politicians calling for stricter controls on firearms were “attempting to exploit the deaths of innocent victims”.

“We are Americans,” Mr Mueller wrote. “We must not allow, nor shall we tolerate, the actions of criminals, no matter how heinous the crimes, to prompt politicians to enact laws that will infringe upon the liberties of responsible citizens who have broken no laws.”

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