ATLANTA - The Georgia Sheriff's Association, a group that consists of the more than 100 elected sheriffs from around Georgia, said stricter gun control measures won't stop mass shootings.
The GSA's position on the gun debate, which is posted on the homepage of the GSA website, is as follows:
"The sheriffs took an oath to support the Constitution and will stand by the 2nd Amendment. The sheriffs will aggressively oppose federal or state legislation which infringes upon law abiding citizens' right to bear arms. The sheriffs further agree to support any legislation that would effectively penalize criminals who use firearms in the commission of crimes."
Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills is president of the GSA.
"You start giving somebody five years for having a gun that's a hoodlum, you'll get their attention. But we're not doing that," Sills said.
He told Channel 2's Shae Rozzi that that one way to reduce gun-related crime would be to ensure that felons served their full sentences, insisting that lax sentencing of one felon cost a Clayton County officer his life in December.
"If he'd served his time, that officer wouldn't be dead today," Sills said. "But he'd been released on parole twice. He'd been convicted before of what? Shooting somebody in the head."
"We have other issues besides just trying to ban weapons," Coweta County Sheriff Mike Yeager told Rozzi. "We have big mental health issues that need to be addressed across this whole country and I think that's one of the bigger problems."
Yeager said his wife is a longtime school teacher and he said he feels for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn.
Sills agreed that mental health is the bigger problem behind mass shootings, not the weapons that are used.
"You don't have anybody institutionalized any more. I'm sorry, some people need to be institutionalized," Sills said.