Summit County sheriff takes aim at gun-control proposals
Ryan Summerlin February 6, 2013
Summit County Sheriff John Minor has signed on with sheriffs across the state in opposing a set of proposed bills that would impose tighter restrictions on firearms in the wake of a wave of high-profile gun violence last year.
The County Sheriffs of Colorado released a position paper last week stating recent massacres at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, and the Century Theatre in Aurora should not “be used as a backdrop to advance gun-control legislation.”
“It was basically our way of saying you need to have a bit of a cooling-down period before you start making laws, with all these tragedy-fueled emotions,” Minor said.
The statement came just days before Democrats in Denver announced a package of bills that would seek to implement a “comprehensive” series of new gun regulations. The measures call for a range of action, from holding assault-style weapons manufacturers and sellers liable for damage inflicted by their products to limiting the number of rounds in ammunition magazines.
“The legislation we introduce today will not bring all gun violence in Colorado to a halt, but it will reduce gun violence,” said state House Speaker Mark Ferrandino (D – Denver). Survivors and family members of victims of the Columbine High School, Aurora theater and recent elementary school shootings joined him for the announcement Tuesday.
But Minor, a Republican, said lawmakers’ efforts are misguided, potentially making criminals out of a million gun owners statewide without effectively targeting the problems at the heart of the shootings.
“There will be a plethora of lawsuits and we will spend millions upon millions of taxpayer dollars,” Minor said. “Instead, we could be spending that money on securing our schools and dealing with mental health issues.”
The County Sheriffs of Colorado noted gun control will not reduce crime rates, citing the examples of Washington, D.C., and Chicago, cities with tight restrictions on firearms and high rates of violent crime, according to the statement.
Minor noted that homicide rates in Colorado fell substantially in 2011.
Summit County’s state representative Mille Hamner (D – Dillon), shied away from taking a hard line on potential gun-control measures, but said she would support legislation that strikes a balance.
“I think we will be faced with some big decisions about how to reduce gun violence,” Hamner said. “I understand the need to protect the Second Amendment and rights of law-abiding citizens, but we also have a responsibility to ensure public safety.”
Summit’s state senator, Randy Baumgardner (R – Hot Sulphur Springs), is a vocal supporter of Second Amendment rights.
The Denver Post contributed to the reporting of this story.