Josephine County Sheriff Dave Daniel today repeated his position that a proposed state law expanding gun background checks to cover private sales does not seem in line with the County Charter, and that he does not plan to enforce it if it is approved by the Oregon Legislature.
Daniel said he's not sure what to make of the proposed law from a legal standpoint, but that it doesn't matter because a violation would be classified as a misdemeanor and he doesn't have the manpower to enforce misdemeanors.
"I can't enforce that law, so therefore it won't be enforced. It doesn't fit on my scale of priorities," he said. "I have felonies going on daily in Josephine County. That's my priority."
Daniel spoke to the Daily Courier in response to a demonstration Monday morning at the Josephine County Jail that was staged by a group of gun-rights supporters representing the local chapter of the Oath Keepers, an organization that says there are some laws that they believe to be unconstitutional and won't obey.
During the rally, about two dozen demonstrators implored Daniel to take a stand against Senate Bill 941 and demanded to know if he would enforce the legislation. The proposed law is still in a legislative committee, but it is expected to pass.
Daniel met later Monday with Joseph Rice, a spokesman for the group, and told the Daily Courier he told Rice the law does not seem to jibe with the County Charter, which states, "The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."
Daniel said he also told Rice that he feels caught in the middle if the law does pass, because it would be a state law that seemingly would supersede the County Charter.
However, he said that if it passes as currently written, a violation would be a Class B misdemeanor, something his understaffed agency would be hard-pressed to enforce from a priority standpoint.
Rice confirmed that he met privately with Daniel after the demonstration and that he commiserates with the sheriff — to a point.
"I want to be fair with him" but he has made a statement and has not clearly defined his position, Rice said.
"He's trying to sit on the fence," Rice added. "He's trying to have it both ways."