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Gov. Gary Herbert urged both sides in Utah's gun debate to take a deep breath and approach the issue in a reasonable, rational way.

The governor said that, with emotions running high after the shooting in Newtown, Conn., both sides need to be methodical about the situation.

"I'm a little disappointed that we have a president who is proposing 35 or 37 executive orders to solve the problem and skirting Congress. I don't think that's the right way to solve the problem," Herbert said. "I have someone else out there who is worried about Congress sweeping in and taking away our guns. I think that's an exaggeration, too."

Herbert expressed skepticism about a proposal by Rep. Brian Greene, R-Pleasant Grove, that would prohibit the enforcement of new federal gun restrictions in Utah. Herbert said Utah will obey the law.

"I think we need to adhere to the law," he said. "Nobody is above the law and, again, if we have laws that are passed that are unconstitutional … we need to fight that in court and change the law."

The governor also said he believes a letter from the Utah Sheriffs Association to the president, stating that its 28 sheriff members ­— all but Salt Lake County — would not enforce gun laws they believed violate the constitutional right to bear arms, was also an overreaction.

"I think it was probably an emotional, knee-jerk reaction to the idea that Washington is somehow going to tell us what we're going to do," Herbert said. "If we don't like the laws that are passed, if we don't like the executive orders, we have a process in place. Go to court. We don't have to have confrontations at the border. Go to court and we'll find out whether it's the law of the land or not, but Utah will adhere to the law of the land."

Twitter: @RobertGehrke