Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott is not pleased with some bills in the state legislature that are aimed at “Second Amendment protections.” Arnott released an open letter to the legislators through the media:
As your Sheriff I took an oath to uphold the Constitutions of the United States and the State of Missouri. It is not only my duty, but my privilege to serve and protect the citizens of Greene County from criminal activity. Just as important however, it is my duty to stand between government overreach and you, specifically in regard to the 2nd Amendment.
I am a member of the NRA and will never take part in the infringement of your constitutional right to legally purchase, posses, own, transfer or carry a firearm. Each citizen of our great country is ultimately responsible for their own safety and I will never take part in removing your ability and freedom to do so in any way. That is my personal and professional belief and it is the culture at the Greene County Sheriff’s Office.
Currently there is a Senate Bill (SB39) and a House Bill (HB85) that have been introduced in Missouri which are attempting to protect these rights, however these bills in their current state are problematic. Unfortunately, these well intended but misguided bills will hamstring law enforcement officers across the state. Senate Bill 39 and House Bill 85 actually call for the termination of employment of Law Enforcement Officers and their supervisors if they share any firearm related information with our Federal Law Enforcement partners.
The Greene County Sheriff’s Office routinely partners with federal agencies to investigate local crimes in Greene County. These crimes are of course against Missouri Revised Statutes but they are also in violation of federal laws. It often benefits our agency and the citizens of Greene County when we work together with federal agencies to prosecute these crimes in Federal Court. Convictions in Federal Court generally yield much longer sentences, keeping the most dangerous felons who threaten our community off the streets for longer periods of time.
This is an unfortunate reality but is yet another reason that I and many Missouri Sheriffs are encouraging legislation for truth in sentencing so we can effectively prosecute these crimes at the state level. We are proud to work with our federal partners in Greene County as they are yet another valuable crime fighting tool providing state local law enforcement much needed resources to better protect and serve you, the citizens of Greene County and those who visit here. We are a large community, with large community problems and this is why these law enforcement relationships are so vital. As I have previously stated, just as vital is your ability to carry a firearm.
Senator Eric Burlison and Representative Jered Taylor are the sponsors of these bills. While I sincerely applaud their efforts to protect your rights from potential changes to federal law, I am also asking publicly that law enforcement officers are not punished for doing all they can to protect the citizens that they serve. Roughly forty percent of this bill is specifically about law enforcement and the collaborative work with our federal partners.
I and other Sheriffs across the state are very concerned with SB39 and HB85. If Senator Burlison and Representative Taylor would consider receiving insight from the Missouri Law Enforcement perspective, I am very willing to work with them on these bills, as are many other Sheriffs. We need state laws that will make it easier to keep our communities safe, not those that have unintended consequences and silence law enforcement officials. Please contact your Senator and State Representative and advise them that you support the 2nd Amendment and Missouri Sheriffs, but not the language in these two bills (SB39 & HB85) which will severely hinder the prosecution of some of our most dangerous offenders.
Sheriff Jim Arnott