Linn County Sheriff Tim Mueller of Portland, Oregon has reportedly sent a letter to Vice President Joe Biden insisted that his department will not partake in enforcing any new gun laws it considers unconstitutional.
In his letter dated Monday, as cited by the Associated Press, Mueller suggested that certain politicians are "attempting to exploit the deaths of innocent victims" by supporting laws that would harm law-abiding Americans. The sheriff went on to say that while he and his department took an oath to support the Constitution, laws preventing citizens from owning certain semi-automatic firearms and ammunition magazines would violate their rights.
"We are Americans," Mueller wrote. "We must not allow, nor shall we tolerate, the actions of criminals, no matter how heinous the crimes, to prompt politicians to enact laws that will infringe upon the liberties of responsible citizens who have broken no laws."
In a phone interview with the AP, Mueller expressed to the news wire that he felt compelled to make his views known because sheriffs have not had much of a say on the vice president's anti-gun violence task force. “Mueller said his constituents have been repeatedly asking his deputies about what will happen if new gun restrictions are adopted,” according to the AP.
"We're restricted and prohibited from enforcing all types of federal laws, including immigration laws," he said on Tuesday. "It would be unreasonable for anyone to think that I would enforce a federal firearms law."
The sheriff figures Biden probably won't even receive his letter, but "it needed to be said, so I said it."
"I tried to be as respectful as possible, but I also needed to get my point across," Mueller said.
According to Mueller, while other sheriffs are supporting his stance, he cannot confirm that any of them have pledged to take similar action in regard to potential gun laws.
Linn County is largely rural and politically conservative with fewer than 40 percent of its registered voters having supported President Barack Obama in November.
Mueller told the AP that he wishes people could have a civilized discussion about the issue, rather than resort to threats and name-calling. He said he doesn't think the vice president is a bad person; he just doesn't like the path he appears to be on regarding gun laws.
"We don't have to be jerks to each other over it," he said. "If old Joe wants to come out here to Linn County, we'd have a good conversation."