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National gun debate gets local

by Debi Sporleder
Huerfano County has one of the highest concealed gun permit holder rates in the state, so we take our guns seriously. Guns, and proposed gun laws, are very much in the news and on our minds here in America those days, and for such a ‘gunny’ county like Huerfano, it has real and potentially cultural and possibly life-changing ramifications.
President Obama has outlined 23 executive orders on gun control he can take free from Congressional blockade, intended to strengthen existing gun laws, augment mental health measures and promote federal research on gun crime through the Centers for Disease Control.
The Presidents action is in response to the  massacre of 20 children and 6 adults at an elementary school in Newtown, CT. Initially, there were incorrect claims of Adam Lanza using an AR-15 at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which was the catalyst to this push for more restrictive gun control. NBC later released videos stating the AR-15 was left in the car and only handguns were used.
The questions arise of how do federal laws affect state and local laws, and is it possible for our right to bear arms, as put forth by the second amendment of the constitution, to be taken away. Furthermore, because this topic goes very deep, we will be doing more than one article covering different aspects of gun control, defining assault weapons and discuss how executive orders play a role in our government.
With this talk of gun control, I questioned our local county elected officials to see where they stood on the issue.
Sheriff Bruce Newman doesn’t believe in any new gun laws, saying we should enforce the ones currently on the books. Newman states an unarmed citizen is at risk for increased crimes and everyone who can legally own a gun, should own one; no one should make that decision for us. He fully supports those who want to get a concealed carry permit and carry a gun.
Commissioner Art Bobian supports the 2nd Amendment but thinks there is no place in American homes for assault weapons, like the military guns that shoot hundreds of rounds per minute. He says, “there is a place for owning self protection and hunting guns, but you don’t use assault guns for protection or hunting. They are overkill.” When it comes to us locally, he states the commissioners can make resolutions, but it won’t trump state or federal law.
Commissioner Ray Garcia took an oath to uphold the constitution of the United States, so says he is pro-gun. He feels people are using the Sandy Hook tragedy as an opportunity to go after guns, which is the wrong thing to do, saying “There is a big problem of mental illness and we as a country need to address this. Other countries have strict gun control but it doesn’t stop crime.” Garcia talked to Edward Vigil, Democrat, State Representative for District 62, who told Garcia he cannot even vote for any gun control. Garcia doesn’t think we need assault weapons, but “it is our right to have them. More difficult restrictions don’t stop these people from committing crimes, like what happened at Sandy Hook – they’ll just take them from their parents.”
Commissioner Max Vezzani supports the constitution, is particularly passionate about the 2nd amendment and is an avid hunter. He says, “We don’t have a gun problem in this country; we have a ‘crazy person with guns’ problem and need to address that issue.” He fully supports the 2nd amendment and would be in favor of any resolution to support gun ownership.
The HWJ will be further examining this topic in future editions.