Josephine County, Oregon Sheriff Dave Daniel recently made headlines when he told a Grants Pass newspaper that enforcing a new so-called “universal background check” law would not be among his priorities.
The former Oregon State Trooper and Grants Pass police officer and said he did not plan to enforce such a law, which was still making its way through the legislature. Violation of the law would only be a Class B misdemeanor, and with his budget constraints and resulting small staff, his department has its hands full with more serious crimes.
During his campaign, Sheriff Daniel did comment on concealed carry saying, “I believe all persons who have no mental issues, a clean criminal history, and the physical ability to operate a firearm safely should have equal access to a C.C.W. There is a reason why laws have been enacted for private citizens to carry weapons legally, and I feel personal protection is a good cause for issuing a C.C.W.”
Sheriff Daniel is not alone in his thinking about universal background check laws. Sheriffs in other states, including neighboring Washington, have strongly indicated their objection to such laws. Sheriffs in New York and Colorado have also said they would not enforce such laws.
Last year, voters in Washington passed Initiative 594, the 18-page gun control measure that requires background checks on all firearm transfers, defined in the language of the law as “the intended delivery of a firearm to another person without consideration of payment or promise of payment including, but not limited to, gifts and loans.”
The sheriff told Point Blank that he opposed the background check measure early on in the legislative process, not only because it might infringe on the rights of law-abiding citizens, but because he also thinks it’s a waste of money that could be better spent on mental health and enforcing existing laws against felons possessing firearms and using them in the commission of crimes.
Sometimes a Defender of the Month isn’t recognized for just rushing headlong at a problem, but for looking at it, laying it out and determining the best way to beat it.
In Daniel’s case, he is caught in the middle of a dilemma. A background check law passed by the Democrat-controlled Legislature and signed by the governor would supersede the county charter. That charter says “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”
Sheriff Daniel is a fellow with an overwhelming challenge. His department is under-funded and under-manned, and yet he appears to have a pretty keen sense about priorities and where that state should be spending its money in terms of fighting crime.