Last year, the Democratic controlled Colorado legislature passed a number of anti-Second Amendment gun control laws. The laws were so restrictive and unjust that firearm related companies began moving out of the state. The Outdoor Channel cancelled 4 programs being filmed in Colorado.
Shortly after the laws were passed, 37 county sheriffs joined together to file a legal challenge to all of the anti-gun laws passed by the legislature. They contended that the new laws that set limits on magazine capacity and requiring background checks for all gun sales or transfers, including private ones, violate the Second Amendment. By the time the lawsuit was actually filed, the number of county sheriffs that signed onto the legal challenge grew from 37 to 54.
A year later, 55 of the state’s 62 county sheriffs have banded together to tell the state legislature and governor that they refuse to enforce the state’s gun-control laws, especially the one restricting magazine capacity. The sheriffs say that not only are the laws unconstitutional but they are also unenforceable.
Weld County Sheriff John Cooke explains:
“They’ve turned law-abiding citizens into criminals. They banned magazines that hold more than 15 rounds and what they’ve said is that any magazine that can be readily converted to hold more than 15 rounds is illegal. Well, that’s 99.999 percent of all magazines. They have a base plate and a spring that you can remove to repair or clean. If you can do that, then that magazine is illegal to possess after Jan. 1, and you can’t buy any. How do we enforce that?”
“There’s a grandfather clause in the law that says if you own a magazine before July 1, 2013, that’s more than 15 rounds, you’re allowed to keep it. How are my deputies going to know who bought that magazine before or after July 1? So we’re not putting any resources into it or making it a priority.”
“They don’t understand how it works because the legislator that introduced this bill, she didn’t come to the sheriffs and say, ‘Explain to me what a magazine is,’ because she didn’t even know. Then after the bill gets passed she was confronted on how a magazine could be converted, and she said, ‘Oh, people will just have to live with it.’”
“At a debate that we had here last year, she was talking about how these 30-round magazines, once people are done shooting, they’re no good anymore because you just throw them away. She has no clue about what a gun is or a magazine is, and yet she’s trying to outlaw them federally.”
“Most law-enforcement agencies in this state don’t really understand how to enforce this, and the people don’t know how to comply with this. So we actually filed a lawsuit. Fifty-five out of the 62 elected sheriffs filed a lawsuit in federal district court against these laws because we’re saying it violates people’s due process. If somebody doesn’t know that they’re violating the law, how can they be held accountable? And that’s a violation of due process.”
“Even the federal courts can’t make me enforce the laws. So if we lose and the judge says, ‘No, these laws are constitutional,’ I still set the priorities and the resources for my agency. There’s no law in the state of Colorado that says I have to enforce the law, so I still won’t enforce them because in my belief and my opinion, it’s not my job to turn law-abiding gun owners into criminals.”
It will be interesting to see what happens in Colorado between the county sheriffs, the courts and state government. What many people fail to realize is that the Supreme Court has ruled that the county sheriff is the supreme law enforcement officer in the county. They even has jurisdiction over federal law enforcement officials.
If the county sheriffs’ authority is challenged in court, all they have to do is not only turn to the Supreme Court case involving former Sheriff Richard Mack from Arizona, but they can also point to US Attorney General Eric Holder. If you recall, Holder recently told all state attorney generals that they don’t have to enforce any law they don’t like, referring specifically to laws banning same-sex marriage. If the US Attorney General and all state attorney generals can pick and choose what laws they will and will not enforce, then surely county sheriffs, who are the supreme law enforcement officer in their counties, can also pick and choose. Now we need every county sheriff in the US to do the same thing as the county sheriffs in Colorado and refuse to enforce laws that they believe are unconstitutional and unenforceable.