Colorado is a curious place. It went blue for Obama both in the 2008 and 2012 elections, but when it comes to gun control, the Rocky Mountain state definitely does not have the president’s agenda in its sights.
John Cooke has been sheriff of Weld County for 11 years. His family moved to the area in the 1860s. He told Human Events exclusively, “I never thought I would see Colorado make marijuana legal and try to make guns illegal.”
New laws in CO mandate universal background checks and ban magazines that carry more than 15 rounds. Cooke and the majority of his fellow sheriffs (55 of 62 total) in the state say they won’t be enforcing these laws.
Both laws, Cooke says, “are going to turn law-abiding citizens into criminals.”
“Basically, the magazine ban says that any magazine that can be readily converted to hold more than 15 rounds is illegal,” Cooke explained. “Almost every single magazine has a removable base plate, and so just about every magazine can be converted to hold more rounds than the 15, which means everybody who owns a 15 round magazine is basically committing a crime.”
“These laws are vague,” Sheriff Cooke said, “They’re really ineffective and they’re unenforceable.”
Moreover, Cooke believes the laws “hurt law-abiding citizens.”
“If you want to lend your rifle to a neighbor or to a friend because he’s going on a hunting trip, after three days, that’s illegal,” Cooke said. “If you want to lend your 17 round magazine to your wife, if you go on a business trip and you give your wife the gun for self-defense, well now she’s a criminal, because the magazines have to be in your continuous possession.”
Both new gun control laws were passed in Colorado after the Sandy Hook shooting in Connecticut and the Aurora Theatre shooting in Colorado last year.
“These laws,” Cooke said, “would not have done anything to stop Newtown and they wouldn’t have stopped the Aurora Theatre shooting. They’re feel-good laws because they have to do something. They were knee-jerk reactions to [two] tragedies.”
Sheriff Cooke believes that making guns “more readily available to law-abiding citizens” will help to decrease violence.
“There’s a reason why our nighttime home invasion occurrences are so much lower than in Europe,” Cooke said. “The FBI stats have shown since 1992, the violent crime rate has dropped by almost 50 percent, but yet we continue to sell guns at about 3 million a year. I think there’s a coloration there.”
“These gun laws are not going to do anything to make this state safer,” Cooke went on. “If anything, I think they could hinder public safety.”
Cooke said he’s always been of the mind that “an armed society is a polite society,” and now, Coloradans are backing him.
The public reaction, according to Cooke, has been “overwhelmingly in favor of our stance.”
Cooke explained that as a sheriff, he’s an “independent elected official. We don’t report to anybody but the public. I don’t report to the commissioners, I don’t report to the mayor, or to the attorney general. They can’t tell us what to do and the only ones that we represent are the public.”
Cooke told the New York Times: “In my oath it says I’ll uphold the U.S. Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Colorado. It doesn’t say I have to uphold every law passed by the Legislature.”
Cooke said he’s witnessed many Coloradans “pushing back” and stocking up on guns and ammo “while they still can.” In Colorado, only the sheriff can issue concealed weapons permits. Cooke said he used to average about 150 permits per month, but after Obama came out with his list of 23 executive actions to stop gun violence, that number spiked to about 500 permit applications per month.
“People have a right to be concerned,” Cooke said.
Colorado voters have a pro-gun track record. Earlier this year, voters recalled Senate President John Morse (D) of Colorado Springs and State Senator Angela Giron (D) of Pueblo for passing legislation imposing stricter gun laws.
“It’s not a Republican/Democrat issue,” Cooke said. “It sends a message to the rest of the country, and it’s been heard in Washington, D.C. When we can recall the president of the senate in a Democrat district, a Hispanic female in a Hispanic district, that sets the tone and national legislators will think twice about trying to make ridiculous federal gun control laws.”
Teresa Mull is the managing editor of Human Events.