join our Nation as we mourn the loss of our children at Sandy Hook Elementary
School on December 14th, 2012. In the aftermath of that tragic day, much focus
has been directed at issues pertaining to guns and gun control.
While the debate stirs strong feelings
across our Nation, Indiana’s Sheriffs have taken an oath to uphold the
Constitution of the Unites States and the Constitution of the State of Indiana.
Furthermore, we have sworn to do this according to law and to the best of our
Millions of law abiding Americans lawfully
possess and use firearms daily for recreation and protection. We must not
forget those most vulnerable and their ability to protect themselves from the
miscreants and those focused on harming us. Furthermore, our discourse should
not cast a shadow of doubt on these millions of law abiding Americans. Firearms
are inanimate objects that have no will of their own. However, they can be
exploited by malevolent souls as instruments of violence. We must work
tirelessly to see that those who show no respect for the sanctity of life are
punished to the fullest abilities of the law. We also believe that the energy
of this debate would be better focused on the issues that we agree upon. It is
critical that we continue to work to keep firearms out of the hands of those who
would use them to commit acts of violence against our citizens.
We must increase our efforts to identify
those individuals in advance and better use the system that we have in place now
to prevent them from gaining access to firearms. The approach to this
multi-faceted problem must be comprehensive in nature. In addition to the
vigorous prosecution for those who break the law, we must also focus our efforts
on strengthening the safety and security of our school facilities, providing
better access to mental health treatment, and enhanced training and resources
for those who may be targets of violence.
Indiana’s Sheriffs also recognize that no
attempt to prevent the violence that occurred at Sandy Hook will be complete
unless we find a way to address the culture of violence that negatively impacts
today’s youth. While these tasks may seem daunting, sheriffs stand ready for
the challenge and the opportunity to address these issues.
As Indiana’s Constitutional Sheriffs, we
remain focused on solutions, but we will not accept any concept that separates
law abiding citizens from their 2nd Amendment Rights without due process. The
authority of the Office of Sheriff is derived from the Indiana Constitution and
those who have entrusted us with our office. Those documents bind us together
as a people, both as Hoosiers and as Americans. At a time when those who are
governed have less trust in those who govern, it is important that we hold
steadfast in this belief and focus our attention not on what divides us, but
instead, what keeps us together!