DENVER — Sheriff David A. Weaver wrote an open letter Friday criticizing the gun control laws passed by the Colorado legislature last month and said he expects the state laws will conflict with the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms.
“As Sheriff, I am sworn to enforce the laws of the State of Colorado, but I am also sworn to uphold the U.S. and State Constitutions,” Weaver wrote. “When these two duties conflict, as I anticipate they will over the coming months, I will exercise the discretion that you, as the citizens of Douglas County, have granted me, to the best of my ability.”
Weaver, a Republican, said the gun control bills, passed by the legislature and signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper, “will not prevent another massacre in a theater nor another mass murder in a school.”
The laws become effective July 1 and include a 15 round limit for magazines, background checks for all private gun purchases and impose fees for CBI background checks.
“Tighter gun laws will not prevent criminals from getting guns. The laws will only make it harder for law-abiding citizens to defend themselves,” Weaver wrote.
The letter seemed to walk the line between voicing opposition to the laws, perhaps even voicing a desire to not to enforce them, without outright declaring the laws will be ignored.
“I will not disregard the new laws,” Weaver wrote, “but neither do I see myself ordering gun magazine round ups.”
Weaver is one of many Republican county sheriffs who have publically voiced opposition to the new gun laws.
Thursday, hours before President Barack Obama spoke at the Denver Police Academy praising Colorado’s laws as a model for the nation, 16 county sheriffs gathered for a “pre-buttal” rally.
Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith said Colorado Democrats were exploiting the tragedies at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut and the Aurora Theater shooting.
Sheriffs are elected in Colorado and letters such as Weavers will certainly play a role in their reelection campaigns.
Republicans have argued voters will punish Hickenlooper and Democrats for the news laws in next year’s elections.
Hickenlooper, who is seeking reelection next year and doesn’t yet have a declared opponent, still looks like a safe bet for reelection; but Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray, perhaps the most passionate defender of gun rights at the Capitol and already listed among possible GOP gubernatorial candidates, may have found his reason to run.
“Two months ago, I was starting to look for work,” Brophy told FOX31 Denver last month. “Now, I know what I’m doing.”
The Colorado Association of Police Chiefs however supports one of the new laws, including a ban on high-capacity magazines over 15 rounds and universal background checks for gun owners.
Broomfield Police Chief Thomas Deland, president of the association, has said the group supports the expansion of background checks because even though it won’t stop all illegal gun sales, it will stop the “many people who easily can possess a weapon who should not be allowed to do so.”