Delta County sheriff moves forward to appeal case against gun control
Delta County Sheriff Fred McKee said he was disappointed a federal judge Thursday tossed a lawsuit challenging two controversial gun-control laws approved last year.
McKee, one of the more outspoken critics of the new laws and a chief proponent of the Colorado Outfitters Association v. Hickenlooper suit, said the new universal background check and 15-round magazine limit laws still are unenforceable and should go away.
Still, McKee said he was pleased to hear that the right-leaning Independence Institute, which financed the lawsuit, would continue to pay attorney’s fees and appeal the case to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.
“We kind of look at it that the state won round one and the majority of citizens lost,” Mc- Kee said. “We will move forward.”
A year ago, McKee was one of 55 Colorado sheriffs, including the four sheriffs in the region, who joined the lawsuit challenging the new gun laws, saying they were unconstitutional and unenforceable.
A few months later, however, the court ruled that they had no standing to sue because, in part, they had never sued the state before to defend citizens’ rights.
As a result, the sheriffs, including then Mesa County Sheriff Stan Hilkey, joined the suit as private citizens.
Hilkey later asked the court to release him from the suit just days before Gov. John Hickenlooper named him as executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Safety.
Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario and Montrose Sheriff Rick Dunlap also were original plaintiffs in the suit.
McKee said he knows of no sheriff’s office or local police department to have filed charges against anyone anywhere in the state for violating the two laws.
“As near as we can tell, there has not even been an investigation concerning either one of these statutes,” McKee said. “That doesn’t mean that we’re ignoring them, it just means that they aren’t unenforceable and no one believes in any way that are helpful in keeping our communities safe.”
McKee was in Aspen last week at the biannual meeting of the County Sheriffs of Colorado when the governor apologized for signing the bills into law without first talking to them about it.
The governor, who later said he still would have signed the measures, told the sheriffs he was unaware they wanted to discuss the matter with him.
“We appreciate the fact that he acknowledged that he failed to include us in those discussions,” McKee said. “What we were concerned with was he would sign a bill that he hadn’t adequately researched.”