I live in rural Josephine County, Oregon, and am very impressed with the attitude and performance of County Sheriff Gil Gilbertson. This guy gets it.
From yesterday's paper:
Gun issues hot topic at Birch meet
By SCOTT JORGENSEN
IVN Staff Writer
Several 2nd Amendment issues were the main topics of conversation during a Tuesday, Jan. 13 meeting of the Josephine County Chapter of the John Birch Society at the Redwood Grange Hall in Grants Pass.
The evening’s featured guests were Jackson County Sheriff Mike Winters and Josephine County Sheriff Gil Gilbertson, who spoke before a crowd of approximately 60 people.
Winters began by discussing an incident involving South Medford High School teacher Shirley Katz. She made national news when she approached her administration requesting permission to carry a concealed weapon on the premises.
That prompted the Medford Mail Tribune newspaper to request a copy of Katz’ weapon license from Winters, along with those of all other concealed weapon permit holders in Jackson County. Winters refused, which led to a court battle.
The judge who heard the case was a former attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, Winters said, and ruled in favor of the paper.
“He had a different view than we did,” Winters said.
Winters said the case is currently in the Court of Appeals, and that he has been advised by counsel to drop it. He estimated that it would cost $40,000 to take the case to the next level.
“There’s a good chance we might lose that,” Winters said. However, Winters said that he may try alternate routes to resolve the issue.
“We’re gonna’ try to get this thing fixed legislatively,” he said.
The discussion evolved into a question-and-answer session. Audience members asked Winters and Gilbertson about guns being taken away from citizens during the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in August 2005. Gilbertson responded that he had been there as a member of a Special Weapons and Tactics team used to secure hospitals.
Gilbertson said that some citizens were taking advantage of the chaos that resulted from local police leaving.
“They were taking shots at us,” Gilbertson said. “It was truly a zoo down there.”
Petitions were circulated throughout the audience expressing support for the privacy of concealed weapon permit holders. Those petitions may be presented to members of the Legislature if the issue comes up during the current session in Salem.
“We’re going to fight this tooth and nail to protect you,” Gilbertson said. “All the sheriffs are behind you on this.”
Gilbertson said that the sheriffs of every county in Oregon are elected officials sworn to repel threats foreign and domestic.
“You’re not going to have your weapon taken away by this person,” Gilbertson said, which prompted applause. “Unless you use it wrong,” he added, resulting in laughter.
Gilbertson also addressed the concept of Restricted Shooting Districts. He said that since becoming sheriff, he’s received many complaints of reckless shooting in high-density rural parts of Josephine County.
Washington County used to have a process by which neighbors could petition to create Restricted Shooting Districts, Gilbertson said. However, the law subsequently was changed.
“We can’t do it, so it’s a dead issue,” Gilbertson said.
Gilbertson said that the districts were intended to dissuade reckless shooting. Even though reckless shooting is a crime, Gilbertson said neighbors are often too scared to testify in court against offenders.
If shooting in the county, Gilbertson said, people need to make sure to do it safely and have a backstop.
“Just do it safe, that’s all I ask,” Gilbertson said. “Make sure it doesn’t ricochet. That’s another issue.”
One audience member asked Gilbertson about the possibility of troops from the United Nations being used to disarm local residents. Gilbertson responded that he briefly worked for the U.N., and is determined to defend his constituents against any such intrusion.
“They’ll never step foot on this turf,” Gilbertson said. “They are not a good group.”