Sheriff Cannon angered by Thursday talks of gun restrictions

"... It distracts us from addressing the real problems that we face in this country," Sheriff Cannon said at Friday's press conference. (Rebecca Lamb/WCIV)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon says it angers him that people like Jesse Jackson are taking advantage of the Aurora shooting to promote a political agenda.

Cannon spoke Friday afternoon to address the proposed assault weapon restriction mentioned at a meeting in North Charleston on Thursday. Civil rights advocate Jesse Jackson attended the meeting.

"There are a whole host of political aspects to this situation," said Cannon Friday afternoon at the Charleston County Sheriff's Office. "But, the biggest of which, is it distracts us from addressing the real problems that we face in this country."

Cannon touched on an array of topics related to gun violence from the latest shooting in Aurora to the 1999 shooting at Columbine.

"The huge fallacy of looking at firearms, an inanimate object, or a large number of magazines, rather than the issue of why people resort to violence to begin with and what we do about it, doesn't really get anywhere," Cannon said. "And quite frankly, (it) makes me angry that folks who are opposed to firearms use that to make their case."

Cannon said he isn't sure why Jackson came to Charleston specifically, but the overall rhetoric when it comes to gun violence and gun restrictions is on the guns themselves and not why people use them.

"None of these people like Jesse Jackson want to confront and address the issue of young black males murdering young black males," Cannon said. "And that tells me that it is done more for political purposes and personal gain of the people who are making the most noise than really addressing some of the problems we face."

Representative Wendell Gilliard released this statement Friday night in response to Cannon's comments:

"We are disappointed that Sheriff Cannon a member of the Law Enforcement community would go out of his way to try and hamper our efforts for stronger gun laws. His statements go against members of his own police fraternity. The National Law Enforcement Partnership has come out with strong statements urging stronger gun laws.

We feel as does the Philly Police Chief Charles Ramsey who is worried that the deadly mass shooting spree in Aurora, Colo. will "fade into the background" and nothing will be done to put in place "reasonable gun control laws" to reduce gun violence across the country.

The founding fathers didn't think that the right to bear arms included bazookas, Uzis, and Ak-47s. I think it's responsible to say that the right to bear arms does not include assault weapons. Our fight is not with the sheriff, only the thugs! We are always standing with those young men and women who are sworn to serve and protect."