Colorado Sheriffs Sue Over New Gun Control Laws

Katie Pavlich

3/21/2013 11:07:00 AM - Katie Pavlich

Yesterday Democratic Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed sweeping new gun control legislation into law prohibiting ammunition magazines capable of holding more than 15 rounds and criminalizing the transfer of private firearms. Before Hickenlooper's signing, Colorado's Weld County Sheriff John Cooke explained that the new law is pretty much unenforceable and confusing:

Weld County Sheriff John Cooke said he won’t enforce either gun-control measure waiting to be signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper, saying the laws are “unenforceable” and would “give a false sense of security.”

Cooke said Democratic lawmakers are uninformed but are scrambling in reaction to recent tragedies in the nation.

“They’re feel-good, knee-jerk reactions that are unenforceable,” he said.

Cooke said the bill requiring a $10 background check to legally transfer a gun would not keep firearms out of the hands of those who use them for violence.

“Criminals are still going to get their guns,” he said.

Cooke said the other bill would also technically ban all magazines because of a provision that outlaws any magazine that can be altered. He said all magazines can be altered to a higher capacity.

Cooke said he, like other county sheriffs, “won’t bother enforcing” the laws because it will be impossible for them to keep track of how the requirements are being met by gun owners. He said he and other sheriffs are considering a lawsuit against the state to block the measures if they are signed into law.

Now, a lawsuit is being filed in federal against the state on behalf of sheriffs who were ignored during debate about the legislation.

The lead plaintiffs are sheriffs from around Colorado. They claim the laws violate not only the Second Amendment, the right to keep and bear arms. but the 14th Amendment which requires laws to be easy to understand.

Even Hickenlooper felt the need to clarify the language after he signed the bills into law.

“Any highly contentious bill is never going to be perfect,” said Hickenlooper.

“What we wanted to do is just provide a little clarity,” said Hickenlooper.

That is something many sheriffs around Colorado believe is missing from the laws.

“The governor refused to meet with them, the legislature ignored them so their claims now will be heard in federal court,” said Independence Institute spokesman Dave Kopel.

“And as the sheriffs have repeatedly said these laws are not enforceable,” said Kopel.

Kopel said Hickenlooper knows it because his staff called the Independence Institute hours before the signing for “clarity.”

“In a way his signing statement where he tries to fix the defective statute underscores the defectiveness of the statute,” said Kopel.

Meanwhile MagPul, a Colorado based company that produces ammuntion magazines at a standard 30-round size, is leaving the state and taking 300 jobs with it.

We have said all along that based on the legal problems and uncertainties in the bill, as well as general principle, we will have no choice but to leave if the Governor signs this into law. We will start our transition out of the state almost immediately, and we will prioritize moving magazine manufacturing operations first. We expect the first PMAGs to be made outside CO within 30 days of the signing, with the rest to follow in phases. We will likely become a multi-state operation as a result of this move, and not all locations have been selected. We have made some initial contacts and evaluated a list of new potential locations for additional manufacturing and the new company headquarters, and we will begin talks with various state representatives in earnest if the Governor indeed signs this legislation. Although we are agile for a company of our size, it is still a significant footprint, and we will perform this move in a manner that is best for the company and our employees.

It is disappointing to us that money and a social agenda from outside the state have apparently penetrated the American West to control our legislature and Governor, but we feel confident that Colorado residents can still take the state back through recalls, ballot initiatives, and the 2014 election to undo these wrongs against responsible Citizens.