Teller Commissioners Fire Away At Gun Control


by Rick Langenberg:




The Teller County commissioners have joined the official protest movement against state and federal gun control laws, with one overriding message: don’t mess with our Second Amendment rights and don’t touch our guns.

In following the same spirit of a resolution passed by the Cripple Creek City Council a month ago, the commissioners unanimously and enthusiastically endorsed a measure last week opposing the recent bevy of gun restrictions. By taking such action, Teller is now part of a growing number of Colorado municipalities and counties who are saying “Hell no,” to the idea of gun control. While these types of resolutions are symbolic, they suggest that local governments aren’t going to enforce the new laws proposed by Democratic lawmakers. These call for imposing background checks on all gun purchases, requiring gun owners to pay their own background checks, limiting high-capacity ammunition magazines and outlawing concealed weapons at college campus facilities. Plus, a new proposed measure may impose more liabilities on gun shops and manufacturers for weapon purchases that result in fatalities or clear violations of current restrictions.

Although similar to Cripple Creek’s resolution, the Teller pro-Second Amendment Rights defense measure doesn’t call for employees to not enforce proposed laws, edicts and treaties that may clash with gun ownership and usage rights. It also is much more concise and more of a boiler plate resolution.

However, contrary to Cripple Creek’s law, the county’s proposal makes more specific references to the current array of gun control legislation, urging the “President, the United States Congress, the Governor and Colorado General Assembly to recognize the multitude of existing laws related to the manufacture, sale and possession of firearms and acknowledge that in order to combat gun violence, the United States must enforce existing laws and more effectively deter those who violate such laws.”

Prior to putting their stamp of approval on this pro-Second Amendment resolution, Commissioners Dave Paul and Marc Dettenrieder hosted a spirited discussion. Commissioner Norm Steen, who was attending a conference in Washington D.C., also voiced his opinions through a prepared statement.

Commissioner Marc Dettenrieder didn’t hesitate in raising a vocal gun against the current bevy of proposed laws sweeping across the state and nation. “This legislation is reactive,” blasted Dettenrieder. “They are using tragedy to advance their agenda. This is the time to stand-up.” He also referred to the recent bevy of state gun control measures as a way to “chip away…at our liberties.

Commission Chairman Dave Paul echoed similar sentiments. “This is clearly a symbolic gesture. We are not going to go along with this, (the recent gun control legislation),”said Paul. Moreover, with the big financial issues facing the state and nation, Paul classified the gun control efforts as a complete “waste of energy. It is inappropriate for the state and nation to be engaged in.”

Although Teller is a small county, he believes it is important that the government take a stand on this issue and send a message President Obama and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper.

In an e-mail submitted to the board, Steen, who was attending a national conference, referred to the new gun control legislation as an attack against the constitution that he has sworn to uphold previously as a member of the military and now as a county commissioner.

The commissioners also received much support from several residents and Teller employees, who attended last week’s discussion. Adrienne Pohrte of Divide strongly endorsed the resolution and even suggested that the commissioners toughen their language and impose a similar directive as what the city of Cripple Creek imposed. In its measure, Cripple Creek bars employees from enforcing any new rules that may clash with the Second Amendment.

Teller County Finance Director Laurie Litwin lauded the commissioners for officially addressing this issue. She said both her daughter and husband, who are avid hunters, also appreciated the commissioners’ pro-Second Amendment stand.

This was a familiar theme at last week’s discussion.

In its resolution, the commissioners cite several key court cases that favor individual rather than collective rights to bear arms. According to national media reports, these cases changed the stakes dramatically in the gun control debate and put the National Rifle Association in the driver’s seat when it came to gun ownership rights. Previously, many legal scholars viewed the Second Amendment as more prevalent in the times of the Revolutionary War and didn’t view these gun ownership rights as applicable for all citizens. Gun control advocates, such as television host Piers Morgan of CNN, have strongly attacked the use of semi-automatic weapons. He has maintained that tragedies, such as the shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, and the Sandy Hook Elementary could have been avoided in more prohibitions were in place. But according to Teller County Sheriff Mike Ensminger, the percentage of tragic deaths from semi-automatic weapons is very small. The County Sheriffs of Colorado association has proposed a year-long delay in any new gun control laws to avoid any emotional reactions to the recent tragedies. Teller elected leaders endorse this stand.