01/17/13 — Sheriffs talk to worried groups

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Sheriffs talk to worried groups

By John Joyce
Published in News on January 17, 2013 1:46 PM

Sheriff Carey Winders was among the three sheriffs invited to Zebulon by the Moccasin Creek Minutemen Wednesday to discuss the potential fallout from President Obama's announcement of 23 executive orders related to gun control. Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harris and Franklin County Sheriff Jerry Jones also attended.

Wayne County's sheriff said legal gun owners do not have to worry about their weapons.

"We are not going door to door and taking up weapons," Winders said.

Chief among the concern of the minutemen, and the dozens of other local citizens who flocked to the meeting to express their support for the Second Amendment, was whether local law enforcement officials, specifically elected sheriffs, were bound by law to enforce executive orders put forth by the administration.

"The Sheriff's Office is a Constitutionally sworn position," Winders said. The only laws a sheriff is sworn to obey, he said, are those that are passed by the Senate and Congress and then ratified by the states, or those in the state's constitution. So far none of President Barack Obama's executive orders meet any of that criteria.

Among the 23 executive orders announced by the president Wednesday were a renewed ban on "military-style" assault rifles, bans on magazines with more than a 10-round capacity and more stringent laws regarding background checks and the penalties for selling weapons to people who are legally prohibited from possessing them.

The Zebulon meeting was but the first of many Winders expects he will have to attend. During a telephone interview today, Winders said that he was presently between meetings and expected more in the coming days. He explained that neither he nor any other sheriff in the state has received any directives to seize weapons and that none of them expect to.

"There is not a lot to be concerned about," Winder said. "People just want to make sure I understand the Constitution and I do. We will not be taking up any weapons."

Concern has been rising around the nation and here in Wayne County about the potential for new gun control measures, and what that might mean for gun owners. There is so much concern that a spike in the number of gun permits applied for and handed out after the Newtown, Conn., massacre has continued into this year.