Over the past few months the Missouri Sheriff’s Association has been accused of standing in the way of the Second Amendment Preservation Act now moving through the legislature in Jefferson City. Our association, comprised of 114 Sheriffs, has even been accused of being against our citizens’ right to bear arms. This disingenuous and misleading campaign is unjustified and is intended to cause undue alarm for our constituents.
As the elected chief law enforcement officer of their counties, Missouri Sheriffs are unique in law enforcement and have held office since the birth of our state. We answer directly to our constituents and we understand our role as protectors of our law abiding citizens’ rights. For 200 hundred years, Sheriffs have taken an oath to uphold the laws of our state, and to support and defend the United States and Missouri Constitutions. This includes our citizen’s right to bear arms. Sheriff’s will always “stand in the gap” between our law abiding citizens and any intrusion by federal politicians seeking to take away law abiding citizens 2nd Amendment protections.
While SAPA proposes to offer protection from federal politicians who seek to infringe on our law abiding citizens right to bear arms, (Something Missouri Sheriffs respect and understand), it also offers a layer of protection to dangerous criminals. For example, if a dangerous criminal robs the local bank at gunpoint or a child is kidnapped at gunpoint, Missouri law enforcement could not investigate these matters or offer “material aid” to the FBI in any way. If we do offer support to our federal partners and the suspect is federally prosecuted, we are in violation of SAPA.
SAPA then allows anyone to sue the county, the Sheriff’s Office, and the individual officer. The minimum fine is $50,000.00. We do not believe our constituents will support civil suits brought on because criminals were prosecuted federally. Missouri law enforcement agencies are required to protect our citizens from dangerous criminals who would do them harm and our citizens know and expect that. Victims of these crimes, along with their families, are too often left behind in our justice system.
Sheriffs repeatedly see offenders granted more protections, programs and services than victims themselves. SAPA offers another unintended layer of protection to these offenders, and would cause a chilling effect on law enforcement’s ability to work together.
Operation LeGend, led by the United States Attorney General’s Office, is an example of how important the cooperation of city, county, state, and federal law enforcement is to the safety of our communities. Because of these efforts, hundreds of dangerous criminals are in jails and federal penitentiaries, instead of on our streets.
We all know criminals do not abide by laws and they certainly do not abide by borders or jurisdictional boundaries. This is why Sheriffs assign deputies to Joint Terrorism Task Forces, DEA and Drug Task Forces, ATF, FBI, ICE and United States Marshals Task Forces. It should be noted these federal agents are also Missouri residents risking their lives to protect our communities as well. SAPA would make these types of cooperative efforts illegal.
As Sheriffs we understand and believe our law abiding citizens want to be safe in their homes and their communities. They also want Sheriffs to use every tool in the toolbox to keep them that way.
The Missouri First Organization, led by Ron Calzone, continues to push the narrative that the leadership of the Missouri Sheriffs’ Association is against your 2nd Amendment rights. Mr. Calzone takes the position that Missouri law enforcement should not work with federal law enforcement to arrest and convict dangerous criminals. As a private citizen he has that choice and he bears no responsibility when criminals go free or innocent law abiding citizens are harmed.
Sheriffs and all of law enforcement have an ethical, legal, and moral duty to protect law abiding citizens in every way. We have had numerous discussions with other Missouri law enforcement organizations, senators and representatives who feel the same responsibility.
Missourians can rest assured that your Sheriff will always be there to protect our law-abiding citizens’ constitutional right to bear arms. But we still have to be able to aggressively go after the bad guys. We know our constituents trust us to do both.
Sheriff Scott Munsterman Sheriff David Parrish
Missouri Sheriffs’ Association Missouri Sheriffs United