Sheriff: I won't enforce laws I find unconstitutional

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon said Thursday morning that he would not support or enforce laws that he considered "unconstitutional."

"I'm required to have this press conference because I believe in my heart that there are those who have an agenda that is aimed at firearms and eliminating firearms. They are taking advantage of the broken heart that each of us has over this tragedy in Connecticut to push their agenda," Cannon said.

When asked about possible repercussions from not enforcing the law, Cannon said he still ran a risk by enforcing a law he believed unconstitutional.

"Throughout history, 'I was following orders,' or, 'I was just enforcing the law,' is not enough to protect you from liability if you knew or should've known. That didn't work in Nuremberg at the WWII trials," he said.

Cannon said reports that an assault weapons ban similar to the one that expired several years ago would not protect children. It would instead, Cannon said, spawn a different kind of criminal.

He used the example of Columbine to convey his message regarding misinformation.

"We were told{}two pistols were found near or around the shooter. We've since been told there were{}four handguns. One of the problems that occurs when incidents like this happen is the misinformation which is given out initially by the news media," Cannon said.{}"Columbine is{}a perfect example. Columbine was a bombing incident except it didn't go off. It was not a firearm incident. There was also a school resource officer on the{}grounds at Columbine."

Cannon equated the current gun control debate to blaming forks for obesity and a movement starting to limit the number of tines on a fork to offset obesity.

"Why do we need{}three forks when{}one will do fine? Maybe that'll cut down on obesity," he said.

Cannon cited passages of the Federalist Papers in his defense of his stance on guns.{}

A report from the University of Pennsylvania in 2004 showed that the assault weapons ban of the 1990s, along with a host of other measures did curb the rate of victimization.

"Police statistics and national victimization surveys show that since the early 1990s, gun crime has plummeted to some of the lowest levels in decades," the report stated. "Following implementation of the ban, the share of gun crimes involving [assault weapons] declined by 17 percent to 72 percent across the localities examined for this study."In the hours since Cannon's press conference, a petition has started online to urge the sheriff to resign.{}{}Brady Quirk-Garvan wrote the petition. {}"If a firefighter says they wouldn't put out a fire, we'd get rid of them immediately, so why should the head of law enforcement pick and choose the laws he enforces?" he said.{}Quirk-Garvan said Cannon had stepped outside his boundaries.{}"If Al Cannon wants to go somewhere where law enforcement makes up laws on the spot, he's welcome to move to some other country, but 3605 here in America, judges decide laws, not sheriffs," he said.{}Cannon said accomplishing a political agenda just to "do something" was inefficient.{}"I have never been about window washing. That's why I'm responding the way that I do," Cannon said.On Friday, Berkeley County Sheriff Wayne DeWitt said he was a supporter of the Second Amendment, but also favored laws that would keep guns out of the hands of criminals. "Quite simply, I am a firm supporter of the Second Amendment.{} In addition, I took the oath of office to support and comply with the Constitution of the United States of America of which the Second Amendment is attached.{} Hopefully, Congress will review the proposed legislation and uphold the beliefs of our founding fathers.{} I will be favorable, as I am sure most Americans would be, to enhance laws to keep guns out of the hands of criminals convicted of felonies and violent crimes as well as those determined to be mentally ill," he said.

A day earlier, President Barack Obama released a series of proposals to cut down on gun violence in the U.S. The measures included 23 executive orders and a litany of issues for Congress to take up in the new session. The measures included bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines similar to the ones used in Newtown, as well as a universal background check.

Obama also called for school security improvements and improving mental health services.

In the Lowcountry, North Charleston and Georgetown have placed officers in schools as a temporary increase in security.{}