by Eric Mullens
WALSENBURG — On the eve of the expected new Colorado firearm legislation being signed into law by Governor John Hickenlooper, Huerfano County Sheriff Bruce Newman said the General Assembly crafted bills that are unenforceable, and do not really address issues of criminal access to guns.
Any new laws should have been harder on criminals that have been caught and convicted, Newman said. “A lot of the guns we find are [with] guys that have already been convicted. They’re not supposed to be having guns in the first place,” Newman said. He said the laws that are supposed to enhance sentences for convicted felons in possession of a firearm are not being as strictly enforced as they used to be. “Convicted felons who aren’t supposed to have guns are still getting them,” he said.
The three bills before the governor this week do not address this issue. The are:
• A 15-ammunition limit on magazines;
• A universal background check for prospective gun buyers; and
• A requirement for gun purchasers to pay for their own background checks.
Newman said he agrees with many other sheriffs in the state when they say the current legislation is a knee jerk reaction to mass shooting tragedies, but doesn’t address mental health issues and other factors. While saying the shooting in Aurora was a terrible thing, Newman said, “My personal feeling is, you start taking away our guns, we’re open to other countries invading us. Ten or fifteen people getting killed in a movie theater is bad, [but] when you look at the genocide that has happened in these other countries where they killed thousands and thousands of people, because they had no way to protect themselves.” Everyone needs to look at the big picture, Newman said, it isn’t just the one burglar people need to protect themselves from.
Newman said he feels the current legislation doesn’t do anything but open the door to possible weapon confiscation and outright bans.
He said with grandfather clauses covering magazine capacity and medical privacy laws affecting background checks, he doesn’t see how any of the current bills may be enforced.
“For people who are legally able to own guns, you are making it hard on them and the criminals don’t care – they’re not following the law anyhow,” he said.
Although Newman did not testify with other Colorado sheriffs in committee meetings at the General Assembly, he said he has talked to many that did and, almost to a man, they felt state lawmakers had, for the most part, made up their minds on gun legislation and did not give the law enforcement professionals a fair hearing.
“They were treated very poorly and were not given very much time,” Newman said. “It was like this was all set up, and they (the legislators) knew what they were going to do.”
Many sheriffs, Newman said, felt they were not taken seriously by lawmakers. “And who would know better than law enforcement, about the problems with guns,” Newman asked.
CNN reports more than 1,000 gun policy bills are pending in state legislatures across the country, according to an analysis by the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
The measures run the gamut from assault weapons bans and expanded background checks to proposals allowing guns in schools and in churches.
by Mark Craddock LA VETA — The La Veta Town Board and the La Veta RE-2 School District have successfully mediated an amended annexation agreement for