Gun control, road closures, gangs, and other topics were covered when El Dorado County Sheriff John D’Agostini addressed the women of the El Dorado County Republican Women Federated at their Monday meeting.
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D’Agostini opened by noting that everyone was probably already aware of the letter he sent to Vice President Joe Biden in which he said he and his staff would not be pressured into enforcing any unconstitutional provision, law or executive order abridging the Second Amendment.
“I put them on notice you will not confiscate guns in El Dorado County,” he said. “I work for you and I’m going to do my job.”
He said so far Biden hasn’t responded to his letter. “He didn’t call, he didn’t write,” laughed the sheriff.
D’Agostini went on to say that over 500 sheriffs across the country have sent similar messages and at least 17 of them are from California, mostly from Northern California.
“I think they are starting to get the message,” he said, noting that gun control is not the issue. Instead he said it was a problem of insufficient mental health funding and not holding people responsible for their crimes.
D’Agostini claimed that what politicians are trying to do goes further than attacking the Second Amendment.
“These gun control laws make criminals out of law-abiding citizens,” he noted, saying that cities with the strictest gun control laws — such as Chicago, Washington D.C., and San Francisco -—have the highest gun violence. “All they do is create a host of victims.”
Addressing a different topic, the sheriff said some 2,000 CCW (carry and conceal weapon) permits have been issued in this county and he has taken steps to streamline the process for getting one. However, even with a permit, buying a hand gun is problematic because there is presently a shortage of hand guns and ammunition for sale. One audience member asked if it was because Homeland Security was buying up large quantities of items.
The sheriff also commented on the push by state Sen. Mark Leno of San Francisco to make possession of Schedule 1 drugs a misdemeanor. Schedule 1 drugs include mescaline, LSD, heroin, and marijuana. D’Agostini said he spent most of his career working in narcotics and he called the bill “ludicrous,” saying that teenagers across the country are dying from heroin overdoses.
D’Agostini went on to give an update on sheriff operations, saying he has worked to make them more efficient. He said last year they gave back $2.7 million in funding to the county. He said they were able to do so by changing work schedules and that change actually resulted in more deputies on the street. He said they are also doing more proactive enforcement.
In commenting on gangs and the crime rate, the sheriff said the county does have some gang activity and having a casino has added to the crime rate. He said his office receives a half million of the $5.5 million the casino gives El Dorado County every year. But according to a study done a year and a half ago, the annual cost of policing the casino is $737,000.
The sheriff was also questioned about the status of the 42 roads that were closed in the Eldorado National Forest. He noted that the Forest Service has completed a supplemental environmental study and a draft has been posted on its Website for comment. He claimed the Forest Service would like to close the roads it needs to fix but doesn’t have the money to do so. He said he would prefer that the roads remain open as a safety issue since if they are closed, it makes it easier for Mexican drug gangs to use them for growing marijuana.
In conclusion, D’Agostini urged the audience to “get involved. Write those letters. Make those phone calls. Stand up,” he said, as he received a round of applause from the audience.
Also speaking at the meeting was Ivy Larsen, a former speech writer and staff member for Sen. Jim DeMint. She recounted her time working in Washington, D.C., and the fight over amnesty. She said DeMint has since left the Senate and is the new president of the Heritage Foundation.
Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or [email protected] Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.