Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

WV State News

January 31, 2013

Some W.Va. sheriffs oppose proposed gun control


But Kanawha County Sheriff Johnny Rutherford, who oversees the state's largest county, says he won't weigh in on specific legislation.

"We're going to enforce the laws, whatever the laws are," he said. "I'm not going to get into the politics of it. Our job is to enforce the laws and make our community safe."

Rudi Raynes-Kidder, executive director of the West Virginia Sheriffs' Association, said members can express their personal views, but the organization has no formal stance on any current proposal. Next month, it will discuss whether to adopt one.

Meanwhile, she's researching what might happen if sheriffs were to defy federal laws.

White, in Boone County, supports background checks and tougher prison sentences for people convicted of gun crimes. But in his letter to the White House, he said he won't support or enforce "any alterations to the Constitution of the United States or any of its amendments, specifically the right to bear arms."

Hardy County Sheriff Bryan Ward also says he won't enforce "any unconstitutional law."

Ward, a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association, blames moral decay for mass shootings like the one that killed 20 children and six adults in Sandy Hook, Conn., last month.

Putnam County Sheriff Steve Deweese says that if an order came to seize an AK-47 from someone who hadn't committed a crime, "my answer is probably no." However, he does support making it harder to buy weapons at gun shows, where there are no background checks.

"If I want to go to a gun show in Eleanor and buy a .22 long rifle," he said, "I can give them $300 and walk out with it."

Not that he's necessarily worried about people stockpiling weapons in fear of a looming gun ban.

"Most of the houses we go to on a daily basis have at least one or two guns already in the house," Deweese said. "West Virginia is well known for that and has been for years."

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