Area Leaders and Law Officers Reloading Weapons in Growing Political Fights
Ever since the 2023 legislative session began earlier this year, the Teller County commissioners have sent a clear message to state political leaders: If any lawmakers chooses to go after guns or law enforcement, the county, along with other rural areas, will fight back with their weapons loaded.
In fact, Teller Commission Chairman Erik Stone has gained the nickname, “Mr. Teller,” as he has been spotted at the state Capitol fighting an invasion of bills that could impact our county and rural sections of Colorado.
During the last commissioners’ meeting, county officials gave an update on the recent legislation that they have been battling at the state level. The bills they talked about fighting this time around all had to do with legislation taking powers away from law enforcement and cracking down on gun ownership.
During their reports, just about every county official spoke out against bills geared towards gun control policies. For example, Stone spent the majority of his report speaking out against Senate Bill 23-169, “Increasing Minimum Age to Purchase Firearms,” which would change the age to purchase and possess a firearm from 18 to 21.
Before Stone began, Commissioner Dan Williams explained how he is seeing the lawmakers take a strong stance against firearms. He reminded people that 17-year-olds with a high school diploma can join the United States Marine Corps and be sent to war to fight for the country with a gun.
Stone went more into detail explaining why the bill should get voted down. Stone said that he went to the state Capitol and testified against three bills that had to do with regulations surrounding guns.
He said that the bill to change the age to possess a gun to 21 was the one that made him the most furious. “It is so poorly written that it is obvious that it was written by someone who has probably never owned a firearm in their life,” Stone said. “And they probably didn’t grow up where we have grown up.”
Stone also mentioned some of the comments that groups supporting the bill said at the legislative session. “I was pretty outraged at some of the stuff I heard yesterday, especially in relation to this bill,” Stone said. “The sponsors and some of the primary supporters of the bill got up and they said that 18 to 20 year-olds are ‘stupid, mentally incapable of the responsibility of owning a firearm, they do not have impulse control, are reckless, and are dangerous.’ These are the words they used to describe our 18 to 20 year-olds in Colorado. Yet we want these people to join the military and we want these people to become deputy sheriffs.”
Stone urged people to write to the state lawmakers to tell them not to pass Senate Bill 23-169 into law. Williams then said that the lawmakers should be focused on the mental health crisis at hand, instead of trying to pass laws restricting gun possession.
Later in the meeting the commissioners also passed a resolution “protecting citizens’ right to self-defense and opposing HB 23-1165 County Authority to Prohibit Firearm Discharge.” The bill they passed the resolution against would allow counties to ban discharging weapons on private property.
The Sheriff Speaks Out Against a Proposed Bill to Limit Law Enforcement Authority
After the commissioners gave their reports, Teller County Sheriff Jason Mikesell took aim at state bills he is fighting. Besides the bills the commissioners mentioned, the sheriff cited a controversial measure that would significantly put the clamps on law enforcement.
“I started a new program that I am going to run, and it’s called name the ‘idiot of the week,’” blasted Mikesell. “And that brings up the House Bill 1169 which was presented by the ‘idiot of the week,’ which is (Representative Jennifer) Bacon. Ms. Bacon is a Denver House member who decided to attempt to stop arrests for all misdemeanor criminal offenses. This would outlaw us from being able to arrest people for disorderly conduct. Disorderly conduct is usually two parties that are arguing or fighting. So, now they can fight in the middle of the street and all we can do is throw a summons at them because we can’t touch them.”
He also mentioned the second piece of the bill that says that law enforcement officials can’t arrest prostitutes. He said that Rep. Bacon said it is because a law enforcement agent might cross the line and put a hand on somebody.
“The other piece to that is she said that parents could lose their children if they go to jail,” the sheriff continued. “Well, that’s not normally done unless they have done something heinous. These issues she is bringing up are really the most idiotic things I have ever read.”
Williams fears that the new bill isn’t good for rural Colorado where everyone owns a gun. He fears that people could choose to take the law into their own hands if law enforcement cannot arrest people for certain crimes like trespassing or criminal mischief.
“What this really does is create victims in Colorado that don’t have any recourse for anything,” Mikesell said. “Now, people start taking the law into their own hands because they have no other choice. We are creating criminals out of good people. But, that seems to be the way right now.”
The comments the commissioners have relayed in the last few weeks at their regular meetings indicate, from their stance, that the recent bombardment of legislation features many ideological bills that have no grasp of reality for rural Colorado.