Raleigh, N.C. — Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison has a message for law-abiding citizens who are concerned that his deputies are going to take their guns away: It's not going to happen.
"People are assuming what's going to happen down the road," Harrison said Tuesday, "but I do not see anybody losing their weapons that are legally law-abiding citizens."
The comments come as a nationwide debate over gun violence continues to intensify in the wake of last month's mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., in which 27 people, including 20 children, were killed before the gunman took his own life.
Last week, President Barack Obama unveiled several recommendations to curb gun violence, including a ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
Although nothing in the president's proposals calls for taking guns away from gun owners, Harrison says he has repeatedly been told by concerned citizens to keep the "feds" out of North Carolina.
Harrison says he thinks gun owners are over-reacting to proposals that have little chance of passing Congress. He says he does believe there will be some changes to gun laws, changes he will enforce, but nothing that will prompt him to go door-to-door collecting guns.
"Are there going to be some changes? I feel like there are, because a lot of people want to see changes on both sides," he said. "I think some of the things that come out of this will be good, but I think there are a lot of people getting overly concerned about something that isn't going to happen."
Sheriffs across the state are also weighing in on the matter.
In Lee County, for example, Sheriff Tracy Carter echoed similar comments on his blog.
"Sometimes, all a man has is his word, so here's mine," he wrote on Friday. "I, Sheriff Tracy L. Carter, will never by use of force or any other means confiscate any firearms possessed by law-abiding citizens of Lee County."
Wayne County Sheriff Carey Winders took to Facebook to reassure gun owners.
"As your sheriff, I took an oath to uphold the United States Constitution and the North Carolina State Constitution, meaning, as sheriff, I will stand by the Second Amendment that our forefathers made certain was a part of our Constitution," he wrote.
But Harrison says it's a misconception that everyone has a right to own a weapon.
"Felons and people with mental issues don't need weapons and don't have rights to own those weapons," he said. "You've got to have something there to protect the public from people who have violated the law."
"Regardless of which side people are on, my job is to serve and protect," he added. "That means that the ones who don't need the guns shouldn't have the guns, and we want to make sure we take those guns, but the law-abiding citizens don't have anything to worry about."