Response positive for sheriff who won't enforce any new gun laws

ALBANY, Ore. - Linn County Sheriff Tim Mueller is getting phone calls from around the world after writing a letter to the White House refusing to enforce federal gun laws he calls unconstitutional.

On Wednesday, the sheriff said the overwhelming majority of the response he has received has been positive.

He said he wrote the letter because Linn County citizens were concerned about new federal gun laws, so he decided to take a stand.

He does not support any type of gun ban or mandatory gun registration, and said he won't enforce those laws because they're unconstitutional.

In his office Wednesday, Mueller said while he has seen some negative Facebook comments that criticize the letter or call for his job, he said those have been maybe two or three out of every few hundred. Now, just days after posting the letter, more than 40,000 people have commented on the sheriff's Facebook page and it's been viewed more than 100,000 times.

He didn't expect all of the attention, but he won't back down and will not enforce laws he doesn't believe in.

"When we say fight, we would definitely use all legal means possible to fight it through the courts and our representatives to make sure that it doesn't happen," Mueller said. "That being said, we won't stand by and watch honest citizens turned into criminals just because of some misguided efforts by people that live clear across the country."

In addition to the comments and the phone calls, he's had cable news networks calling him for TV interviews.

Mueller said he didn't write the letter for all the attention.

"The effect I was going for was just for my own local folks here because my deputies and I were being asked by citizens - you know, what my position was on an outright ban and mandatory registration of any firearms. And I don't support that," he said.

And he said the response has been "humbling."

"The comments I received from people across the country kind of gets an old sheriff about half choked up," he said. "I didn't really go into it with that intention of being a voice for everyone. But if my voice can be heard on their behalf, then that's a good thing and I'm proud of it."

He said he's heard from at least four other sheriffs in Oregon who have also sent the same letter.

When he sent the letter, he said he thought there was maybe a small chance Vice President Joe Biden would actually read it. But now he thinks he's got a better shot.

The sheriff said he actually agreed with a few of the White House proposals on Wednesday. He supports the idea of background checks for gun purchases, he also was glad to hear the president mention better funding for mental health programs. Still, he's standing his ground and said he won't enforce any ban or mandatory registration law.