Sheriff's letter to vice president on gun control takes the wrong tack

jtarica@thetribunenews.comMarch 29, 2013 

If letters to the editor are any indication, Sheriff Ian Parkinson’s missive to Vice President Joe Biden on the issue of gun control is well beyond its deserving moment in the spotlight.

We’re now past four weeks since the news broke, and the two sides are still going back and forth.

I thought I’d missed the chance to weigh in, but since the topic doesn’t seem to want to die, let me add a few final thoughts, and maybe we can put the issue to rest:

Of course, I disagree with Parkinson’s tack.

His primary point seemed to be that, 1) he supports the Second Amendment vigorously, and 2) he will not participate in new efforts to limit its scope, or, in his words, “turn law-abiding citizens into criminals by enforcing gun control legislation that will not solve or prevent tragedy.”

As some commenters have noted, that sounds a lot like a top law enforcement official refusing to do his most basic job, which is to enforce the law.

It also puts Parkinson crosswise with those police and sheriff’s officials who believe fewer guns circulating in the general population is a good thing and on the whole makes their jobs less dangerous.

At the same time, Parkinson acknowledged that California already has some of the toughest gun control legislation in the nation, which, one would assume, he is indeed enforcing.

This begs the question: If he is already enforcing strict state laws on a local level, and if he believes that type of regulation indeed belongs under state control, what does he gain from chiming in on the national debate?

The office of sheriff is nonpartisan, and as spokesman Tony Cipolla said, “not beholden to any political party.”

Parkinson is similar in that respect to our local judges or the county clerk-recorder, who are expected to execute their duties and step lightly around the muck.

Instead, the sheriff hitched up his boots and stomped right into it.

The result is that he has now contributed to further polarizing our county in an unnecessary way.

Gun-rights supporters are hoisting their firearms to the sky with a hearty “yahoo!” while the gun-control fans furrow their brows and shake their heads in dismay.

And what for? Nothing.

If Parkinson truly believes he must take a stand on limiting future firearms regulations, Parkinson would be better off focusing his attention on Sacramento than Washington.

Or, he could keep his feet clean and avoid taking such a rigid stand on this highly charged debate altogether.

That would be my preference.

In the future, Sheriff, let’s aim for a little more diplomacy and a little less shooting from the hip.

Joe Tarica is the presentation editor for The Tribune. Reach him at jtarica@thetribunenews.com or on Twitter @joetarica.

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