Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

OUR VIEW: Gun rights, alive and well (poll)

ed Updated: January 25, 2013 at 12:00 am

The Second Amendment is alive and well in Colorado’s most populous county.

El Paso County has gone from no public shooting range to the largest and newest in Colorado, with Wednesday’s opening of the Cheyenne Mountain Shooting Complex. The facility, a multijurisdictional project at Fort Carson, opened a day after El Paso County Commissioners voted unanimous support for gun rights. The county’s resolution reacts to President Barack Obama’s 23 executive orders pertaining to guns, seen by some gun rights defenders as the start of new federal challenges to the Second Amendment.

Commissioners, at the initial urging of Commissioner Peggy Littleton, resolved to 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 Second Amendment questions.

It’s good that our county politicians understand the law, respect the law and vow to uphold the law against rogue federal efforts to violate it. The resolution mentions a landmark 2008 Supreme Court ruling that said the Second Amendment protects individual gun rights, not just a collective right to keep and bear arms. A related ruling in 2010 made clear that states must abide by the Second Amendment.

Commissioners also asked the United States Senate to reject international treaties that challenge America’s Second Amendment.

Littleton said she proposed the resolution because she suspects President Obama wants to restrict ownership and possession of firearms. El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa, who has long defended the Second Amendment against political and bureaucratic threats, put his support for the resolution in a letter:

“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 wrote. “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.”

Though some may consider the statement a radical tilt at Uncle Sam, it’s nothing more than a sheriff restating his oath. Maketa and other sheriffs vow to protect the Constitution of the United States.

While the Second Amendment protects a right that can be second to none in a republic established to protect individual freedom, gun rights aren’t of much use if Americans cannot handle their guns. As such, the lack of a public shooting range has been a concern for years.

The ceremonial opening of the Cheyenne Mountain range introduced the first of three phases of the project. The first phase provides seven ranges and 120 covered shooting positions. Three ranges facilitate rifles, four are for handguns. A second phase will include skeet and trap ranges for shotgun training, and addition of a clubhouse and retail store. The third phase will add a restaurant.

“Colorado has a long and storied tradition of gun ownership for hunting, outdoor recreation and other lawful purposes,” wrote Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., expressing support for the shooting complex. “This public shooting range ensures that that tradition will be safely and responsibly practiced and passed down for future generations.”

Udall pledges to reintroduce a bill that will redirect some federal revenues, collected by a tax on ammunition and guns, to help fund this and other public shooting ranges.

The new shooting facility came together as a result of textbook cooperation by the Army, county commissioners, the sheriff, the National Forest Service and the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife. It highlights what can happen quickly in the Pikes Peak region when public servants set aside petty differences and work together to achieve common goals for the good of the people they serve.

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