CHARLESTON, W.Va. - As Congress begins its discussion of proposed gun control legislation, some West Virginia sheriffs have declared they will not enforce any laws they believe violate the Second Amendment.
Boone County Sheriff Randall White on Monday wrote a letter to President Barack Obama.
Josh Nelson, the county's newly elected Republican delegate, posted a copy of the letter on his Facebook page Tuesday afternoon, where it has been "liked" and "shared" hundreds of times.
"It is with all due respect," White wrote. "I wish to inform you that so long as I am sheriff of this county, I will not, nor shall I ever support any alterations to the Constitution of the United States or any of its amendments, specifically the right to bear arms."
White wrote that the government's money and time would be better spent "punishing the few citizens who commit crimes involving firearms." He suggested increasing prison time for individuals charged with gun crimes, saying those individuals make up a very small percentage of the population.
Raleigh County Sheriff Steve Tanner told the Beckley Register-Herald earlier this week he would not enforce any gun laws passed by Congress.
Tanner said he is charged to defend "the entire Constitution, including the Second Amendment."
"It's incredibly stupid for anyone to assume that society has become so advanced you no longer have the need or the responsibility to protect yourself or your family," he told the newspaper. "That is absolutely not true."
Several calls and messages left for White and Tanner were not returned Wednesday.
Sheriffs across the country are making similar statements, USA Today reported earlier this week.
Richard Mack, a gun rights advocate and former Arizona sheriff who now lives in Texas, is urging the defiance and says he has compiled a list of more than 200 sheriffs who oppose further gun restrictions, the newspaper reported. There are 3,079 sheriffs in the country.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee began its hearing on gun violence Wednesday with testimony from former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head in 2011 during a mass shooting in Tuscon.
Giffords, whose speech and movement are still affected by her injuries, spoke briefly and in short sentences.