It's one of the most heated topics in the nation, the argument over gun control. It's a debate that was reignited by tragic shooting incidents, like the one in Newtown, Connecticut. Now, Sheriffs from across California have drafted a letter to Vice President Joe Biden to share their idea's on how to prevent more senseless shootings in the future.
First, and foremost, the letter states that responsible gun owners should not be punished. The first paragraph reads "it is the position of the CSSA, in accordance with the Constitution of the United States and the statutes of the State of California, that law-abiding persons who meet the established requirements have the right to acquire, own, possess, use, keep and bear firearms. This right shall not be infringed."
The letter goes on to say that California has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, but gun violence is still a big problem. They say keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, and the mentally unstable needs to be a priority. "If we are to avoid future tragedies and more fully protect the public, mental health issues in the context of gun ownership must be central to the national discussion. Too often, we have seen shooting incidents that involve seriously mentally ill people, many of whom are untreated, or under-treated."
The CSSA also calls for a bolstering of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. A system they say is severely lacking, stating that "only an estimated one-quarter of felony convictions are currently available in the system."
It's a message that California Sheriff's hope is not lost on the Vice President, and President Obama. President Obama actually released a statement asking for law enforcement's help at the end of January. "No group is more important for us to listen to than our law enforcement officials. They are where the rubber hits the road. And so i welcome this opportunity to work with them; to hear their views in terms of what will make the biggest difference to prevent something like Newtown or Oak Creek from happening again."
We spoke with several north state Sheriff's today, and they told our crews that the letter does reflect their beliefs. If you'd like to read the full letter, you can find it on this website, under news links.