Spirited crowd lauds county’s resolution protecting gun rights

Every seat of the public hearing room was filled Monday morning, with most folks attending the regular meeting of the Board of County Commissioners in support of a resolution reaffirming the board’s commitment to the Constitutional right to bear arms.

Hoots and hollers from the crowd, along with nearly a roomwide standing ovation, followed Commissioner Rose Pugliese’s introduction of the resolution, which aims to “preserve and defend the Second Amendment” and “nullify any statutes, executive orders or other regulations and proclamations that infringe on the right of an individual to keep and bear arms.”

All three commissioners voted to pass the resolution — but not until dozens of county residents took their opportunity to address the open forum, mostly in support of the commissioners’ action.

Commissioner John Justman, new to the board this January along with Pugliese, recalled a teacher he had many years ago in school, as context.

“(She) got up in front of us, and said, ‘The United States is a great country because our citizens can own guns.’ ... Today, I think they’d call the SWAT team on her,” Justman told the crowd. “That’s how much our country has changed.”

He repeated a quote often attributed — many say incorrectly — to Thomas Jefferson: “Those that turn their weapons into plowshares will be plowing for those who didn’t.”

Commissioner Steve Acquafresca prefaced his support for the resolution saying, “Here in Mesa County, hunting and firearm ownership for self-defense are great traditions that are held in very high value.”

A spirited public comment period included many appreciative words for commissioners, threats of coming federal mandates and regulations, personal stories of firearms reliance, 
affirmations that the rights of the Constitution come from a higher power — even calls for organizing a formal local militia.

Resident Kevin King said it was clear that “the Second Amendment is under attack,” and, “It’s time, on a local basis, to stand up against our government of tyranny.”

Palisade’s Diane Cox said, “I want you to tell you how deeply we appreciate elected officials who really believe the oath they swear — to uphold our Constitution.”

Kim Heidel, a nearly 70-year-old county resident who lives alone “out in the sticks,” said she can’t rely on calling police, who are at least an hour away from her home.

She referred to the fugitive currently being sought in California and said, “I appreciate having the right to defend myself if that man comes to my door.”

Not everyone who participated in the public comment period supported the commissioners’ resolution, as you might expect.

Harry Andrews, a former combat Marine and law enforcement official, called himself a “fly in the ointment” of the mostly pro-gun-rights proceedings.

“I have seen a lot more harm that has been done by guns than I have seen good,” he testified before the board.

At times residents needed to be reined back toward the topic at hand — after diverting to topics as wide-ranging as domestic violence, the culture war, the Bolsheviks, commissioners’ recent dismissal of County Administrator Chantal Unfug, and even water collection atop Grand Mesa.

Other times, the hearing room broke out into tinny, cable-channel type-arguments, with folks shouting over one another, and board Chairman Acquafresca banging his gavel to maintain order.

And on the more extreme end of the spectrum, a number of residents pitched dire warnings as reasons for supporting the county’s resolution.

“A gun is a piece of property. And if they take that property away from us, what comes next?” asked Lisa Binse. “If we don’t have a right to private property, we do not have any liberty.”

Steve Bittle, a farmer and rancher from Loma, who said he “literally (carries) a gun with me every single day of my life,” also said the Second Amendment was put in place to defend against all enemies, both foreign and domestic.

“Right now, I think domestic is our biggest fear,” Bittle said. “If we continue down this path, we are done as country. If we let the Second Amendment fall, the rest will follow suit — and we will have no rights left in this country.”

Commissioner Pugliese, who put forth the resolution for board consideration, addressed some of the feedback she had received, which was that commissioners should be more focused on economic, rather than constitutional, issues,

“The two really do go hand in hand. We really don’t need over-regulation, and we really need to be looking to protect our businesses here in Mesa County,” she said.


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The political grandstanding by commissioners is akin to Chicken Little claiming “The sky is falling”!  What great leadership, hold a public gathering and pass a resolution that is basically worthless, except for purporting ignorance!

How about actually providing leadership and having meaningful conversation about mental illness and other issues of concern rather than gathering the masses and lathering the mentality that someone will be knocking on the door for our handguns or hunting rifles?

About as disappointing as it gets!

Kudos to the Daily Sentinel for calling our County Commissioners’ pro gun resolution what it is:  “grandstanding”.  (“Grandstanding for gun rights”, February 12, 2013).

What Sentinel readers may not recall is the sordid history of the anti-constitutional notion of “nullification”.

In 1832, South Carolina purported to “nullify” national tariffs—insisting that the “United States” was but a transitory combination of permanently sovereign States (as under the Articles of Confederation of 1781), not a perpetual Union of formerly sovereign States which had irrevocably conveyed certain “enumerated powers” (and thus “sovereignty”) to the federal government established by the U.S. Constitution in 1787.

In the 1850s, “nullification” regained traction – both in the North (among Abolitionists) and most vociferously in the soon-to-be secessionist South (where “nullification” was inextricable linked to the call for “States’ Rights” in defense of slave “property”).

From the Civil War through today, “States’ Rights” has been “dog whistle” code for anti-Black racism—but “nullification” did not reemerge into our political discourse until we elected a half-Black president in 2008.  Apparently, for too many, defending “gun rights” has become the functional equivalent of defending Slavery.

While Southern slave owners were justifiably paranoid about slave uprisings and thus demanded “a well regulated militia” in the Second Amendment, today’s deluded “gun nuts” are irrationally paranoid that President Obama will somehow confiscate their guns.

The lunacy of their illogic is obvious.  There are at least 270,000,000 guns under private ownership in the U.S.  If the combined forces of the ATF, local law enforcement, and/or our armed forces managed to confiscate 27,000 guns per day, it would take 10,000 days to do so.  At 200 working days per year, it would take 50 years to complete the task – ample time for the NRA to sue and for courts to “nullify” any unconstitutional “takings”.

                Bill Hugenberg

Good thing everyone could carry guns to the “hearing” because I doubt the big bad government would let them bring in torches and pitchforks.

Let’s hope this Board gets the nonsense out of its system or we’ll be pining for the return of the comparatively statesman-like Craig Meis.

Any legal costs incurred defending this absurd resolution should come from the commissioners’ pay.

For once it was a pleasure to see the County Commissioners passing this resolution. There are other duties and responsibilites for them to work on, but this one was a resolution I support.

At sign in, there were no pre-determined approved formats for statements. When I stood to address how much time and therefore taxpayers money has already been wasted by this “new” commissioner group via all the time and effort to fire Unfug and the follow-up to find another administrator, then adding this “dog and pony” show and all the time and taxpayers money for that, then at this point NO county business was getting done.  We pay these people about $100,000/year plus benefits akin to what the federal senate and house of reps get.  Do the math.  Your tax dollars are being wasted.  The room was filled via Facebook to a specific group of people. They did not represent the normal “Republican” view. Aquafresca, in his zeal to support the “gunners” and the so-called resolution, rudely interrupted my statement,denying my 1st Amendment rights, regarding the commissioners irresponsible use of taxpayers dollars on a insignificant folly.  Pugliese is a lawyer and knows that any decisions at the federal level will supersede local actions unless Mesa County wants to secede from Colorado.  She was grand-standing for her invitees. Stop wasting taxpayers’ money!! I demand fiscal responsibility from these ELECTED officials. I demand the right to disagree openly at any meeting of the public. The 2nd Amendment does not mean the 1st Amendment does not exist.

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