Across Country, Sheriffs Take Aim at New Gun Laws

Most in Colorado have signed federal lawsuit against them
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 16, 2013 6:47 AM CST
Across Country, Sheriffs Take Aim at New Gun Laws
In this May 17, 2013 file photo, Weld County, Colo., Sheriff John Cooke, left, with other sheriffs standing behind him, speaks during a news conference on the lawsuit.   (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

Across the country, sheriffs continue to oppose new gun laws, with some refusing to enforce them and others just making them a low priority. In Colorado, sheriffs are actively fighting laws requiring background checks and limiting magazines to 15 rounds: In May, 55 of 62 elected sheriffs signed a federal lawsuit arguing against the measures' constitutionality, the New York Times reports. Meanwhile, sheriffs in New York, California, Florida, and Kentucky are among those who have opposed gun-control measures.

The Times speaks with several Colorado sheriffs, including a leader in the lawsuit:

  • "In my oath it says I’ll uphold the US Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Colorado," says John Cooke of Weld County. "It doesn’t say I have to uphold every law passed by the Legislature."
  • Pete Palmer of Chaffee County is among the seven sheriffs who didn't sign the suit—but he doesn't plan to make the laws a focus: "All law enforcement agencies consider the community standards—what is it that our community wishes us to focus on—and I can tell you our community is not worried one whit about background checks or high-capacity magazines."
  • Boulder County Sheriff Joe Pelle, however, supports the laws. "Many colleagues are "saying that they’re not going to enforce this because they personally believe it violates the Second Amendment," he notes. "But that stance in and of itself violates the Constitution."
(Read more sheriff stories.)

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