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Gazette Premium Content Commissioners support efforts to overturn gun laws

Amy Lathen Published: June 4, 2013

Which is worse? Legislation designed to eliminate security and freedom of law abiding citizens or a legislative process in which hundreds of citizens' voices are deliberately suppressed? Can't choose? Neither can I. Both choices are egregious and both were perpetrated during this year's legislative session, which took place under the coercive and oppressive watch of Democrat leadership in the House, Senate and Governor's office.

Frankly, there are a number of bills which would fall under this description but on May 28, the Board of County Commissioners unanimously agreed to focus on two of these bills in the form of a resolution to support the efforts of 55 of our Colorado sheriffs in legal action to overturn them.

HB1224 and HB1229 collectively restrict the constitutionally-guaranteed rights of law-abiding citizens as outlined in the Second and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution by imposing a ban on the ownership, sale or transfer of ammunition magazines with a capacity of or potential capacity of 15 rounds or more. They also place undue liability and costs caps on federal licensed firearms agents and an unreasonable burden on the transfer of firearms between private parties, family members, deployed military personnel and farms and ranches operating as corporations.

Sheriff Terry Maketa and 54 other Colorado sheriffs recognize the danger, unenforceability and unconstitutional nature of these new laws and have filed a lawsuit in federal court to challenge them on behalf of the citizens of this state. Not only does this lawsuit seek to protect Colorado citizens from unwanted restrictions but it also serves to protect the sheriff's offices statewide from being asked to enforce laws that effectively turn law abiding citizens into criminals.

Interestingly, a recent tweet from Senate Democrats stated that the sheriffs are "standing with criminals". That's you and I, folks. The elitist bureaucrats who wrote and passed these laws view you and I, law abiding, free people protected by our Constitution, as criminals just because we believe in and are fighting to protect our right to bear arms. We do not need to explain to any bureaucrat why we should be able to keep that right. It is our right, period.

The resolution that this Board of County Commissioners passed states our unanimous support of the sheriffs' efforts and directs our legal staff to file relevant amicus briefs to the court in support of the litigation. We have an obligation to stand up for this effort on behalf of our constituents and the oaths that we took. There is not a single position that any elected official can take which will align with the views of 100 percent of their constituents; however, it is abundantly clear that the vast majority of our constituents support this fight for their Second Amendment rights.

As I wrote in the resolution, we support common sense, limited government policies and the protection of individual liberties. We are opposed to these ill-conceived and ineffective measures which will diminish the ability of law abiding El Paso County citizens to protect themselves, as specifically defined in the Constitution, and are in direct conflict with our responsibility to protect the health, safety and welfare of the citizens we were elected to serve.

In 1787, Noah Webster said, "Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom of Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretence, raised in the United States." Patrick Henry followed in 1788, warning, "Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect every one who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined."

Our sheriffs and the board on which I serve are using legal force to preserve the public liberty and protect the jewel of our Second Amendment. We will do no less and recognize this issue as one related directly to the safety and security of the citizens we serve and the liberty of us all.

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Amy Lathen is the El Paso County Commissioner for District 2.

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