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Some of My Thoughts on the National School Safety Discussion

President Trump has released his proposals for enhancing school safety. They include:

  • Hardening our schools: The Administration will make sure our schools are safe and secure—just like our airports, stadiums, and government buildings—with better training and preparedness.

  • Strengthening background checks and prevention: President Trump is supporting legislation and reforms to strengthen the background checks system and law enforcement operations.

  • Reforming mental health programs: The President is proposing an expansion and reform of mental health programs, including those that help identify and treat individuals who may be a threat to themselves or others.

  • Keeping the conversation going: In addition to these immediate actions, President Trump is establishing a Federal Commission on School Safety, chaired by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, to recommend policy and funding proposals for school violence prevention.

President Trump’s policy proposals acknowledge the world as it is, and importantly, would commit resources to the fundamental causes of school violence, rather than to the diversion of gun control.

I am happy to see that President Trump has reconsidered the idea of establishing a minimum age of 21 to buy certain firearms. In addition to being unconstitutional, it ignores the thousands of military veterans and Sheriff’s deputies under age 21 who serve their country and protect their communities using firearms.

Shortly after the Parkland shootings, I sent a letter to President Trump pointing to the many fine deputies in my own office who started their honorable service before age 21. I invited President Trump to travel an hour south of the White House to meet these young men and women.

The text of my letter is as follows:

Dear Mr. President:

The recent shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has shocked and saddened the entire nation. Countless suggestions have been made to prevent similar tragedies but they fail to account for the protection of our God-given right to self-defense and the protections of our Second Amendment. In particular, prohibiting rifle purchases until the age of 21 is an argument that fails to recognize the many members of law enforcement and the military serving with honor before reaching that age.

I would like to invite you to meet several of the Culpeper Deputy Sheriffs who began their careers at 18 or 19 years of age. These Deputies carry rifles and pistols both on and off duty every day while serving our community.

We must build a bulwark around our Second Amendment. What is the age to defend against Tyranny or the age of our right to self-defense? I would submit that the age of 18 has served our nation well for military service and voting rights.

With all due respect to our law makers and the victims of tragedy, we cannot allow hysteria to override sound decision-making. The actions of an evil few cannot be allowed to abolish or erode the constitutional rights of the law-abiding majority.

John Hinckley and Lee Harvey Oswald attacked two of the most highly protected men in the world without the use of an “assault weapon” or high capacity magazine. Changes in our gun laws will not stop evil from targeting “gun free zones.” American schools can remove the label of “gun free zone” by either mandating armed law enforcement in every school or allowing the concealed carry of firearms in schools. Otherwise, without removal of all firearms in our nation, evil will continue to target those known to be unarmed.

Under the proposed age restriction, an 18 year old cannot buy a rifle but can be hired as a Deputy Sheriff or be sent by our military to die protecting our country. This wasn’t the intent of our founders.

As Sheriff, I invite you to please travel an hour south of the White House to meet some of our dedicated Deputies (photos attached) who began their careers well below the age of 21.

May God bless and guide you and our federal government.

The letter itself can be seen here.

In the wake of high-profile shootings, there is a predictable, knee-jerk attempt to “do something” about guns, Constitution be damned (though curiously, one does not hear similar cries in the face of our country’s shameful abortion statistics). Fortunately, these hysterical attempts have not yet borne fruit. As one commentator put it, “[I]t’s hard to persuade any man or woman to surrender an unalienable right — especially when exercising that right helps preserve the most vital right of all, the right to live.”

Our God-given right to self-defense, as enshrined in the Second Amendment, should not be restricted to adults only of a certain age. The same deputies and soldiers who place their lives on the line every day are vivid examples of the fact that some evil can only be stopped by superior force. Each of us deserves to live in secure communities, and unassailable Second Amendment rights are the bedrock of that security.

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