Gun Control
8:00 pm
Wed December 18, 2013

Colorado Sheriffs Refuse to Enforce New Gun Control Laws

John Cooke is among the Colorado sheriffs who are resisting enforcement of new state gun laws.
Credit Michael Ciaglo / The Colorado Springs Gazette

Some sheriffs are refusing to enforce the new gun laws in Colorado reported Erica Goode for the New York Times.  

Sheriff John Cooke of Weld County says the laws are too vague and violate Second Amendment rights.  Other sheriffs agree with Cooke, and say enforcement will be “a very low priority.”  55 of the 62 elected sheriffs in Colorado signed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the statues.

A Federal District Court judge last month ruled against a claim in the sheriffs’ lawsuit that one part of the magazine law was unconstitutionally vague. The judge also ruled that while the sheriffs could sue as individuals, they had no standing to sue in their official capacity.

Sheriffs who refuse to enforce gun laws echo the stand of Richard Mack, a former Arizona sheriff and the author of “The County Sheriff: America’s Last Hope.” Mr. Mack has argued that county sheriffs are the ultimate arbiters of what is constitutional and what is not.

Sheriff Cooke, for his part, said that he was entitled to use discretion in enforcement, especially when he believed the laws were wrong or unenforceable.

“In my oath it says I’ll uphold the U.S. Constitution and the Constitution of the State of Colorado,” he said, as he posed for campaign photos in his office — he is running for the State Senate in 2014. “It doesn’t say I have to uphold every law passed by the Legislature.”

Sheriffs who refuse to enforce gun laws around the country are in the minority, though no statistics exist.