State, local officials flock to Frisco to debate gun laws, state funding
July 15, 2013
More than 60 residents turned out Wednesday at the Holiday Inn in Frisco to hear a panel of elected state and local representatives debate issues.
The event was sponsored by the Legislative Affairs Council and the Summit Chamber of Commerce, leading some in the audience to believe the forum would focus on local business issues.
But the questions, submitted by those in attendance, focused more on state issues, with gun control legislation passed last session in the Colorado General Assembly taking center stage.
The first of several questions were directed to Summit County Sheriff John Minor and focused on the practicable enforceability of Colorado's new gun laws.
“The problem is there are no manufacture dates on these magazines, so there is no way to tell whether or not it was manufactured before July 1,” Minor said. “The only way this law can be enforced is if you are silly enough to sell a high-capacity magazine to someone right in front of a cop.”
— Summit County Sheriff John Minor about the enforceability of Colorado’s new law banning large-capacity magazines.
Holding a 30-round magazine, Minor said it's going to be difficult to enforce all four of the state's gun control laws, but none more so than the ban on large-capacity magazines because the law allows those manufactured before July 1 to be grandfathered in as legal.
"The problem is there are no manufacture dates on these magazines, so there is no way to tell whether or not it was manufactured before July 1," Minor said. "The only way this law can be enforced is if you are silly enough to sell a high-capacity magazine to someone right in front of a cop."
After several questions about the laws' enforceability, which also opened up plenty of discussion about whether or not Colorado's gun control laws violate the U.S. Constitution, an audience member asked Colorado House District 61 Rep. Millie Hamner, D-Frisco, to explain her position about gun control laws.
Citing her teaching background and the recent shootings in classrooms across the nation, Hamner said she supported and voted for every gun control measure signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper this spring.
"But first of all, we don't call it 'gun control,' we call it 'gun safety,'" Hamner said. "This is about public safety, not about restricting anyone's rights. If I thought anything we were doing was in violation of the Constitution I wouldn't have voted for it."
But at the end of the day, Minor said it doesn't matter what he, Hamner or anyone else thinks about Colorado's gun control laws, saying those issues will be aired in the federal court system soon enough.
"Issues like these go through the judicial review process all the time," Minor said. "Eventually all of our questions will be answered by the federal courts."
One of the few questions asked that addressed local issues was in regards to upgrades to Colorado State Highway 285 to provide travelers with an alternative to the ever increasingly congested Interstate 70.
Summit County Commissioner Thomas Davidson said any improvements to Highway 285 are years away considering the financial status of the Colorado Department of Transportation.
"Cars are getting more and more efficient and that (the gasoline tax) is where a lot of (CDOT's) funding comes from," Davidson said. "Raising the gas tax or the sales tax to fund CDOT does not seem to be as high a priority (for most people in the state) as properly funding K-12 education."
With the number of road projects around the state growing each year, while CDOT's funding continues to dwindle, Davidson said he thinks tollways may become a reality for Colorado drivers.
"Anything regarding improvements to Highway 285 is many, many years away, but I find it amazing we even have the funding for the Twin Tunnels project," Davidson said. "I don't know how you feel about tolls, but I believe CDOT is going to have to move toward tolls to keep pace with all of the travel needs of the state."
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