County backs sheriff on gun laws

Mesa County commissioners listen Monday to comments from an audience member as they adopt a resolution in support of litigation to oveturn the state’s new firearms laws. Seated from left are Steve Acquafresca, Rose Pugliese and John Justman at the old Mesa County Courthouse in downtown Grand Junction.

One week before new gun laws are set to go into effect in Colorado, Mesa County commissioners adopted a resolution Monday supporting litigation to overturn them.

Beginning Monday, it will be illegal to sell or possess large capacity magazines in the state, in accordance with House Bill 1224. Large capacity magazines are defined by the legislation as those that hold more than 15 rounds of ammunition, more than 28 inches of shotgun shells or more than eight shotgun shells, depending on the type of firearm.

House Bill 1229 will make it a misdemeanor in Colorado to transfer or sell a firearm on or after Monday without a background check and approval to transfer gun ownership from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.

There are exceptions to the law.

It allows military personnel to give their firearms to a close relative up to 30 days before they are deployed overseas, permits gun owners to give firearms as gifts to immediate family members and allows transfer of a gun to someone who is not the owner for fewer than three days, all without a background check, among other scenarios.

Commissioners said Monday that they wanted to adopt a resolution to show support for Sheriff Stan Hilkey and 54 other Colorado sheriffs who filed a lawsuit last month calling the new laws vague and unenforceable.

Commissioner Rose Pugliese said the resolution, adopted unanimously by commissioners, is a follow-up to a resolution they passed Feb. 11 that asked legislators and Gov. John Hickenlooper not to pass or sign any legislation that would “infringe on the right of an individual to keep and bear arms.”

Commissioner Steve Acquafresca said the two bills, sponsored solely by Front Range Democrats, are “as partisan as could be” and will chip away at Second Amendment rights.

He added that the lawsuit is being privately funded and an amicus brief the county may submit to the courts in support of the sheriffs’ litigation would have “only minimal cost.”

“The two pieces of legislation mentioned in this resolution were not well thought through and they will not achieve what the legislators who supported this legislation stated was their goal,” Acquafresca said.

The legislation was adopted within a year of the July 20, 2012, shooting at an Aurora movie theater that killed a dozen people.

Commissioner John Justman said legislation like House bills 1224 and 1229 won’t prevent similar disasters in the future.

He said legislators said Coloradans wanted this legislation, but he does not believe Western Slope residents, in particular, would agree.

“Just because they repeat it 20 times does not make it the truth,” Justman said.

About 30 people gathered to watch the county commissioners pass the resolution and to offer their opinions. All 10 who testified said they supported the resolution.

“I stand by (Sheriff) Stan,” said Kevin McCarney, chairman of Freedom Colorado.

“I do not consent to these laws. They are unconstitutional and I will not obey them.”

“You’re keeping me from being a criminal” with this resolution, Fruita resident Bob Erbisch said.

“With one swipe of a pen I could become a criminal by doing something I’ve done my whole life.”

Hilkey was unavailable, so Undersheriff Rebecca Spies commented on his behalf at Monday’s meeting, saying he is “proud to be a part of this.”


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Isn’t McCarney the chairman of Freedom! Colorado? I believe he has been asked to not use the name Freedom Colorado, by the group that actually owns THAT name.

I have no problem with this lawsuit. It will eventually end up in the US Supreme Court, and it will help to define what can be regulated and what cannot be regulated. The Heller case did say that governments can regulate guns, but was not clear about the limits to regulation.

I do find it interesting that the County Commissioners are playing to the loudest and most unethical voices in the community. But then I always enjoy a good bit of irony.

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