Residents reacted with a blend of optimism and uncertainty after President Barack Obama delivered the 2013 State of the Union address to Congress on Tuesday, Feb 12.
The president touched on a number of themes, including jobs, the minimum wage, education, immigration and gun control – topics that are on the minds of the residents of U.S. Representative Jeff Denham’s 10th Congressional District of California.
As President Obama talked about getting people back to work, a rising housing market, increasing the minimum wage, the need for immigration reform, and later saving some of his strongest language for his effort to lobby for stricter gun control laws, Denham, representing all of Stanislaus County and part of San Joaquin County, presented comments to issues brought up by the President.
“The President had an opportunity to share with Congress and the American people his plans to solve the most serious challenges our country faces,” Denham said in a prepared statement. “We cannot continue spending at our current rate. We need a plan to control government spending, reduce the annual deficit instead of adding to our already more than $16 trillion debt in order to expand opportunity for all Americans without raising taxes.”
“America’s history is built upon immigrants seeking to find a better life for themselves and their families, building together the greatest nation on earth,” Denham said. “It is clear that our immigration system is broken and in desperate need of repair. I look forward to working with the President and Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate to fix the immigration system for good.”
Obama told the nation that law enforcement officials want stricter background checks while alluding to proposed bans on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines.
“Police chiefs are asking our help to get weapons of war and massive ammunition magazines off our streets because they’re tired of seeing their guys and gals being outgunned,” Obama said in his State of the Union.
Yet, in the San Joaquin Valley, local sheriffs do not seem to be totally on board with the restricted measures that may be produced from such legislation.
Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson, in a Jan. 17 letter, told the feds and Vice President Joe Biden that he is against any new gun control legislation.
“I refuse to take firearms from law abiding citizens and will not turn law abiding citizens into criminals by enforcing useless gun control legislation,” Christianson wrote. “Instead of enacting more useless and unnecessary legislation restricting the rights and freedoms of law abiding citizens, our elected leaders should focus their efforts on the underlying problem. Addiction, mental illness and a complete erosion of traditional family values in our society are all contributing factors. …Even more despicable are those elected leaders who use these senseless acts of violence to promote their personal agenda by politicizing tragedy and exploiting the victims.”
In early February, San Joaquin County Sheriff Steve Moore became involved in the same advocacy, endorsing a letter by the California State Sheriff’s Association to Vice President Joe Biden outlining the organization’s views on the gun control debate. The letter stated that “law-abiding persons who meet the established requirements have the right to acquire, own, possess, use, keep and bear firearms,” and “this right shall not be infringed.”
“As always, I will work to break down party barriers and continue to bring the Valley’s voice to Washington as we work to find common ground on issues that affect our families, our businesses and our communities,” Denham said.