Right to bear arms upheld in El Paso County

GARRISON WELLS Updated: January 23, 2013 at 12:00 am • Published: January 23, 2013

One day before the biggest shooting range in Colorado opens to the sounds of gunfire, top El Paso County officials are promising to protect residents’ Second Amendment right to bear arms.

El Paso County Commissioner Peggy Littleton on Tuesday introduced a resolution that states the board will not “enforce any statutes, edicts, Presidential Directives, or other regulations and proclamations which conflict — and are expressly preempted by — the U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings” on the Second 
Amendment.

The resolution refers to a 2008 case in which the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s rights, rather than a collective right to keep and bear arms. In 2010, the court ruled that the amendment also applies to the states and is incorporated into the Due Clause of the 14th Amendment, according to the resolution.

The resolution asks that the U.S. Senate reject international treaties that could affect Second Amendment rights.

It says that “neither the United States Congress nor the Colorado General Assembly of the State of Colorado should entertain consideration of any new legislation that would infringe on constitutionally protected rights under the Second Amendment through any means, including additional restrictions on lawful firearms and accessories; or on the possession, use, sale or transfer of legitimately owned firearms.”

The resolution was approved unanimously.

Littleton said she has been working on the resolution for weeks, but her thoughts first turned in that direction during the general election in November.

“It became very apparent to me that our president had an agenda to move forward that would try to restrict the ownership and possession of firearms for our citizens, that he would try to do everything in his power to weaken and eventually dissolve the Second Amendment, which is our inalienable right,” she said.

Elected officials, including the president, in their oath of office promise to uphold constitutional rights, Littleton said.

“I think it would be disingenuous for someone to come in and try to take these rights away from us,” she said.

About 20 people spoke in favor of the resolution. In all, there were about 100 people in the audience who supported the resolution.

“I don’t have any doubt that we’re in the middle of a fight between liberty and tyranny, freedom and control between the Constitution and Washington,” Littleton said. “It’s unprecedented.”

“We’re saying: ‘Not in El Paso County. We’re going to stand up and protect the rights of citizens to bear arms to defend their freedom and their family.’ ”

Among supporters at the board meeting were the Colorado head of the NRA and Richard Mack, a former Arizona sheriff and one of the founders of the Constitutional Peace Officers Association.

Littleton said that Mack believes the county is the first to take such an official stance and hopes it sets a precedent for others to follow nationwide.

Littleton has plenty of support from El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa.

In a letter to residents on the Sheriff’s Office’s website, Maketa pledges to fight efforts that infringe on Second Amendment rights.

“I am among the millions of Americans who choose to exercise their right to bear arms and I avoid judgment of those who choose not to,” Maketa says in the letter. “Today and every day into the future, I will continue to not only exercise this right, but ensure that our law-abiding citizens’ right to bear arms is protected. I personally believe this right among others is non-negotiable.”

Sheriffs in Larimer and Weld counties also have voiced opposition to President Barack Obama’s gun-control proposals.

Maketa this month expressed his support for arming school employees and offered to help train them and waive his fee for a concealed weapons permit.

“In essence, the sheriff is saying that he took an oath and that oath was to protect the Constitution of the United States and the State of Colorado,” said Jeff Kramer, Sheriff’s Office spokesman. “If something comes out that is contrary to the Constitution and the Second Amendment that creates a conflict, he is going to hold true to his oath.”

Maketa’s statement is drawing a lot of support statewide and from other states.

“The comments and support we have been getting overwhelmingly are in support of the sheriff’s position,” Kramer said.

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