Wicomico County Sheriff Sticks to His Guns - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Wicomico County Sheriff Sticks to His Guns

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A row of weapons on display at the Richmond Gun Show at the Richmond International Raceway. (Photo: Associated Press, File 2008) A row of weapons on display at the Richmond Gun Show at the Richmond International Raceway. (Photo: Associated Press, File 2008)

SALISBURY, Md. - Two Eastern Shore sheriffs are taking a stand against proposed gun legislation. Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis made fiery comments in Annapolis on Monday regarding a bill that would require gun owners to register long guns.

The bill would regulate shotguns and rifles similarly to handguns. Long gun qualification licenses would require background checks even for private sales. The bill doesn't specifically mandate the confiscation of weapons but it would allow the Department of State Police to create regulations to carry out the law.

Sheriff Mike Lewis of Wicomico County was there to testify and says he will not support the bill even if it passes. His comments are raising eyebrows of advocates who support tighter gun laws in Maryland.

In a video shared on social media on Monday, Sheriff Lewis spoke to a gathering after testifying before a House Committee considering gun legislation.

"We are going to let them know that we are sick and tired of being penalized for Baltimore City's inability to control crime," Lewis says in the video.

WBOC spoke with Sheriff Lewis on Tuesday, who says he's sticking with his guns.

"Our citizens deserve to be protected," Lewis said.

Somerset County Sheriff Ronnie Howard joined Lewis in Annapolis and says he also does not plan on enforcing the bill even if it passes. Howard agrees with Lewis that the gun control measure is unconstitutional and says guns can provide safety for people in remote areas.

"It would be very dangerous for someone to turn in their weapon, living in a very remote area and someone else trying to break into their house. I can't. I'm not. They need it for protection," Howard said.

But Sheriff Lewis' statements are triggering concerns for activists like Jamaad Gould of the Maryland Progressive Caucus. Gould argues Sheriff Lewis is failing to do his job as an elected leader.

"How do you expect to garner the respect of the community and the trust of the community when you're saying we're above you guys, we're not abiding by the same laws that we're going to force you to abide by? That's an issue all the way around," Gould said. "In my personal opinion, he should resign."

But Sheriff Lewis says he's not backing down.

"I will stand up against it," Lewis said.

A spokesperson with Attorney General Brian Frosh's Office says, when it comes down to it, Lewis is a sheriff who must uphold the law even if he does not agree with the law. Still, the Attorney General does not have the authority to force Lewis to uphold the law. It is up to any State's Attorney Office or person who files a lawsuit.

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