ATLANTA - As the gun debate rumbles in Washington, the Georgia Sheriff's Association (GSA) voted in favor of a strong Second Amendment stance.
Barrow County Sheriff Jud Smith was in Atlanta for the conference last weekend where the vote for the statement, submitted by the group's legislative committee, was unanimous.
While against any infringement on the Second Amendment, Smith said the association does support penalizing criminals who use firearms to commit crimes.
"We want swifter action on these firearms cases, but at the same time, we don't want our citizens, our law-abiding citizens, to have their rights stripped away based on a political agenda," Smith said.
Smith estimated over half of the state's 159 sheriffs were in attendance for last weekend's vote.
In part, the statement said sheriffs will aggressively oppose federal or state legislation which infringes upon law abiding citizens' right to bear arms.
Smith concurred, recalling his swearing in ceremony.
"When I took office, I placed my hand on the Bible and I swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution. Myself and my deputies will do so," Smith said.
"We are not going to stand by and allow any laws or restrictions, or even executive orders, to infringe upon the rights of law-abiding citizens of Barrow County."
Last week, Hall County Sheriff Gerald Couch had said he was in favor of the GSA making sure the sheriffs were on the same page related to the gun control debate.
Following the GSA vote, Couch issued a statement Wednesday affirming his Second Amendment support.
"I respect our founding fathers' wisdom and foresight in clearly establishing citizens' rights under the Second Amendment to provide a means of self-defense. Any laws or executive orders that proclaim honest, law-abiding, taxpaying citizens must be stripped of their right to keep and bear arms is unconscionable," Couch said in a statement.
Couch last week said he was working through the idea of department hosted firearms safety classes.
The following is the text of the GSA's statement related to the gun debate:
GSA Position on the Gun Debate
The sheriffs took an oath to support the Constitution and will stand by the 2nd Amendment. The sheriffs will aggressively oppose federal or state legislation which infringes upon law abiding citizens' right to bear arms.
The sheriffs further agree to support any legislation that would effectively penalize criminals who use firearms in the commission of crimes.