Letters to the editor for February 1, 2013

By Observer Upload February 01, 2013 08:50 am



Uphold all of Constitution, not just parts sheriff likes

To the Editor:

Our local sheriff has just joined the posse of Oregon sheriffs who have announced that they will not enforce any Obama gun control laws because they are “unconstitutional.” (Never mind that we don’t yet know what those laws might say, exactly. The sheriffs can just tell).

Myself, I think this is a good idea. Everyone knows the government spends way too much money. This way, we can relieve the courts of their traditional (and expensive) role of reviewing the constitutionality of laws. Cut to the chase. Let the police decide.

The only thing I don’t get is how the sheriffs, who take their constitutional duties so seriously, have overlooked that the Constitution also requires the legislature to pass the laws, the courts to review them, and the police to enforce them —that little “separation of powers” idea. 

If Boyd Rasmussen is sworn to uphold the Constitution, shouldn’t he be upholding the whole of it — not just the parts he particularly likes?

Anne Morrison

La Grande





Sheriffs only responsible to us, the voters

To the Editor:

There seems to be much ado around the country concerning sheriffs refusing to enforce gun laws deemed to be in violation of the Second Amendment of our Constitution. This stems from people believing that laws are laws and all law enforcement officers are obligated to enforce them regardless of the origin. In reality this is untrue. Federal laws are federal, state are state and local are local. 

Sheriffs are elected and considered to be a part of the executive branch as contrasted to those employed by a panel, commission or an agency. They are not responsible to other entities and only responsible to us, the voters. 

When sworn in, they take an oath to uphold the Constitution and those appropriate local and state laws. They did not take an oath to enforce federal agency laws or those stemming from congressional origin. 

This has been supported by the U.S. Supreme Court in a case by a former Arizona sheriff, Richard I. Mack. He contested the Brady Bill in the U.S. Supreme Court as being unconstitutional and unfunded. The Brady Bill mandated that the state and local enforcement officers enforce it with a threat of arrest, fine or both if they did not comply. The enforcement would have had to use local dollars. 

Sheriff Mack’s lawsuit cited the Second, 10th, 13th and 14th amendments as the basis. Of all the enforcement agents in the U.S., only six joined in the suit. Sheriff Mack and Jay Prinz of Montana carried the case and won. 

The Supreme Court ruling stated that the federal government could not commandeer the lower enforcement agencies into servitude to enforce federal laws, thus establishing a precedent that sheriff’s and other non-federal enforcement agents are not responsible to enforce federal laws other than the Constitution. 

Other than area appropriate needs, the oath taken by our sheriffs and other government officials and enforcement agents are for the most part alike. The sheriff has no more responsibility to enforce federal laws than the ordinary American citizen. Sheriffs are the highest of all law enforcers within their county and actually have the power to tell the federal and state to go away as the problem belongs to the county to enforce or not.  

Gene Erwin

La Grande





Security achievable without creating armed garrisons

To the Editor:

Recent readers propose allowing concealed weapons in schools, asserting that such policies best deter armed intruders. Accurate assessment? Consider the following. First, possession of a permit cannot guarantee that the holder can/will use that weapon safely. Permits are too easily acquired: the American Firearms Training website advertises an on-line course that qualifies a person for a permit in 14 states — in 90 minutes.  As far as I could tell, no test of real-life shooting skill is required. This is significantly less rigorous than driver’s education.  

Let’s say a teacher carries a concealed gun to LHS. I assume that weapon would be locked in a secure but accessible location. How long before a disturbed kid figures out where that gun is and how to get at it?  

Advocates assert that school staff could respond more quickly than police, but who really knows how long it might take to pinpoint a shooter’s location —and who disseminates that information?  Given the current lack of security, front office staff would be most vulnerable. How long would it take our teacher to grab a weapon while calming terrified kids? What if that teacher is also terrified and shaky? Accurate marksmanship at the range doesn’t cut it here.

The teacher might shoot at someone running down the hall. Might be the assailant, but might be another teacher or student. Research shows that reflexes, response time and judgment are compromised in life-threatening situations.

Weapons training recently offered to teachers simply cannot provide them with adequate skills needed to deal with an “active shooter.” Such policies impose unacceptable burdens on teachers.  

Consider legal ramifications. The cost of insurance needed to protect our school district/staff from civil or criminal charges could be astronomical. Lawsuits could bankrupt the district. 

If we respond to hypothetical violence with more violence, what are we teaching our kids? Remember “use your words, not your fists?” Let’s look first at preventative approaches. Add secure doors to open classrooms, retrofit entrances to provide real access control, install bullet-proof glass in first floor windows. Perhaps most importantly, we must give our teachers more tools and responsibility for recognizing kids at risk for violent behavior. Violent kids can become violent adults. These approaches are ultimately less expensive, teach our kids constructive problem-solving and increase school security without creating armed garrisons.

Kathryn Boula

La Grande




Rally on Capitol steps supports health care rights

To the Editor:

Have you heard about the Affordable Health Care for All Oregon Act? The act would cover all Oregon residents with no co-payments, deductibles or premiums and be funded by dedicated taxes, based on ability to pay. Advocates believe that universal health care will result in a healthier population, a more prosperous economy and a better business environment for the state. 

On Monday, the first day of the 2013 legislative session, the 61-member organizations of the Health Care for All-Oregon coalition and 20 grassroots groups of local supporters from across the state will rally on the Capitol steps in Salem for health care as a human right. 

According to HCAO leaders, the purpose of the rally is to demonstrate the breadth and depth of support for universal health care and for the Affordable Health Care for All Oregon Act, which has been reintroduced in this session by Rep. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland. 

A group of Union County residents are already committed to being there and more are signing up daily. If you are ready to join us and need a ride, contact Kathy: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it The full rally schedule and information are posted at http://hcao.org/feb-rally-for-health-care/. Participants are asked to wear red, bring signs and a lunch, and take along rain gear in case of inclement weather.

Hope to see you there.

Fuji Kreider

La Grande