By Cliff Adams
(WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) – Johnson County citizens came together Wednesday morning to join Sheriff Chuck Heiss for coffee and conversation.
Coffee with the Sheriff took place at Mary Jane’s Cafe in southern Warrensburg. At 7 a.m. Heiss began to make the rounds, shaking hands and listening to concerns. The cafe was buzzing with patrons, eagerly awaiting the dialogue that would soon unfold.
In the midst of smiles and hellos, Heiss invited everyone to gather around for a discussion. He thanked everyone for joining him and began to address an issue that is at the forefront of politics – gun control.
“Has everyone heard about the letter I wrote to President Obama?” Heiss asked.
The majority of those present responded in affirmation.
“Members of the media are saying that I stated in the letter, I would not enforce gun control laws. I asked that the federal government not enact legislation through an executive order,” Heiss said. “I did not say that I would not enforce the law.”
“Has anyone read my letter?” Heiss asked.
“I did,” said patron Jay Shannon. “You simply stated your responsibilities as county sheriff.”
“I believe gun control is bad because we do it by caveat,” Heiss said. “Legislation such as this needs to go through Congress. The Second Amendment was written to guarantee your right to protect yourself. This type of executive order works to impede and erode that right.”
Citizen Dale Deer raised his hand to speak.
“Community is the only thing that will help resolve today’s societal issues,” Deer said.
“You’re absolutely right,” Heiss said.
Cary Altman, another member of the audience, requested to speak.
“I am proud to be a Missourian due to your letter. Thank you for letting the president know that Missouri won’t take this,” Altman said.
“Legislating crime out of the community doesn’t work,” Heiss said. “Outlaws are called such because they live outside of the law. If you want to help, be vocal. The silent majority is to blame for this.”
In light of the controversy surrounding Heiss’ letter to President Obama, this forum presented him with the opportunity to set the record straight. The sheriff wrapped things up by reflecting on the December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., which took 26 lives.
“Look at Sandy Hook,” Heiss said. “That guy didn’t just open the door and walk in. He broke a window, climbed through and circumvented the security plan. An assault rifle ban won’t protect schools. The classroom is a target-rich environment. A shotgun would be just as deadly in that confined space. Having a school that is properly secured and protected will save more lives than any legislation.”