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President Obama’s executive orders and proposed legislation to control guns will waste billions of taxpayer dollars and do little to prevent further tragedies such as the one in Connecticut, according to Anderson County Sheriff Troy Young.
Young shared his thoughts on gun control during an interview with The Anderson News last Friday afternoon, just days after Obama’s release of a month-long study on the issue following the murder of more than two dozen children and adults at an elementary school in Connecticut.
During the interview, Young commented on Obama’s proposed legislation that would ban military-style rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines, saying that it’s premature to know exactly what, if any, restrictions will be placed on what has become the centerpiece of the debate about gun ownership.
“We can what-if this to death,” said Young. “As of right now the law has not changed from what it was yesterday, but am I going to uphold the Constitution? Absolutely.”
Obama’s executive orders are largely centered on widening the net on national background checks and establishing various task forces to study gun violence.
Young said Obama falls short, however, in ensuring that guns don’t fall into the hands of those who should not have them.
“Someone can get out of a mental hospital and walk right around the corner and buy a firearm at a yard sale,” Young said. “You can go to a flea market or the 127 Yard Sale and purchase a gun. I think we need to monitor the sale of weapons to keep them out of the wrong hands, because a lot of the people we deal with don’t need guns in their hands.”
The problem, he said, is that little of what Obama has already signed into law will accomplish that.
“What we really need is better communication between all agencies,” Young said. “I don’t really see that [in what Obama has signed]. “One of the things [he signed] is a national safe responsible gun ownership program, which is going to spend a lot of money to do something the NRA and gun clubs already do, and something law-abiding, responsible citizens already do.
“I don’t think too many criminals are going to sign up for that campaign.
“He’s also spending billions for safety standards for gun locks and safes, but what in the world will that do for your avid hunters and those who are already responsible and very educated about their firearms? It’s going to be a waste of money.”
Young said rather than use billions for those types of programs, the money would be better spent ensuring schools are made more secure by enhancing a program he and the Lawrenceburg Police Department already have in place.
“There are a few things here that will help, including providing incentives for school resource officers,” Young said. “We’re ahead of the game on that and we’ve been advocating for that for years.”
Two police officers — a deputy and city officer — are currently assigned to protect the county’s six public school buildings.
Young said he doesn’t agree with some of what is being done in other states such as New York, which recently approved a ban on military-style rifles, high-capacity magazines and a host of other gun-related items.
Even if such legislation were to be enacted on a national level, Young said he doubts it will ever get to the point where those types of firearms will be confiscated, particularly in Kentucky.
“That’s not going to happen,” he said. “From what I’ve seen proposed, there is no talk of confiscating someone’s .38 from the nightstand or grandpa’s shotgun. There’s no way that will happen and people won’t allow that to happen.
“There’s already too many guns in the system for that to happen. It’s impossible.”
Young said a previous, less restrictive federal ban on those types of firearms expired a year before he took office in 2005.
“I don’t remember that affecting us too much,” he said, adding that during his 28 years in law enforcement he cannot recall a single crime here that involved a military-style rifle. “I don’t recall any controversy over that.”
Young pointed out that nothing currently being proposed federally includes confiscating firearms of any kind from law-abiding citizens.
He said his office has, by court order, confiscated firearms in the past, including some Chinese AK-47s, along with firearms owned by people facing drug and other charges.
“What we want to do is help solve the problem, not be the problem. We need to be talking to our senators and representative and have our voices be heard, and information sharing will go a long way to help prevent violence.”
Here, Young said, his focus is on protecting the rights and safety of Anderson County residents.
“We’re trying to stay ahead of the game, and making sure we are sharing information within the local law enforcement community,” he said.
“As far as us taking care of our own county, that’s our number one priority.”