Following a long and lively discussion on gun control Monday morning, Weld County commissioners unanimously passed a resolution that reasserts their support for the Second Amendment in light of recent federal gun control mandates.
Most of the 12 people who spoke before commissioners in the public comment period said they were in favor of the movement. Others had questions on the wording of the resolution, and some opposed the measure.
“The purpose of this resolution today was, No. 1, in support of our sheriff,” said Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway, referring to Weld County Sheriff John Cooke, who said several weeks ago that he would not enforce President Barack Obama’s gun control mandates.
“But more importantly, (the resolution was passed) to say that Weld County is going to stand behind the Constitution,” Conway said.
Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer was excused from the meeting and did not vote on the resolution.
On Jan. 16, Obama signed 23 executive orders that expand the federal government’s capacity to do background checks, mandate a national study on gun violence and require better tracking of lost and stolen weapons, among other measures. He also asked Congress to pass legislation that would require a background check for all gun sales, reinstate the ban on assault weapons and outlaw high-capacity ammunition magazines, according to The Associated Press.
Cooke said at the meeting he appreciates commissioners’ support.
“It’s too bad now we’ve gotten to this point where we have to do a resolution for the Second Amendment,” Cooke said. “I know the law-abiding gun owners also appreciate your support.”
The resolution argues that most lawfully owned firearms in the United States are not used in a crime. It also urges Congress and state lawmakers to reject any international treaties or legislation that infringe on the right to bear arms.
Last week, El Paso County commissioners passed a similar resolution.
Kevin Blake of Evans said he supports the measure, but asked commissioners to revisit the issue in a few months to see if they would take it a step further. Blake said he would like to see Weld County follow examples in other states where officials have called for laws that would make enforcing federal gun laws illegal.
Doug Meyer said at the meeting he feels the mandates “punish the innocent for what the guilty do.”
“A lot of people don’t realize that without the Second Amendment, there would be no First Amendment,” Meyer said.
Others, such as Pat Bruner of Greeley, said the resolution seemed too political.
“I’m still very confused because I wanted an answer to which one of the 23 executive orders that the sheriff takes such issues with,” Bruner said after the meeting. “For us to have a rational discussion, that we need to know.”
Cooke said after Obama proposed his plan that the mandates were unenforceable, except for those that address mental health. He said universal background checks would stall private gun sales, which infringe on the Second Amendment.
Bill Crews said he supports state sovereignty on the matter of gun control.
“We are at the mercy of the federal government if they start taking away our arms. Hitler did it successfully, Stalin did it successfully,” Crews said.
Priscilla Resendiz, a new resident to Greeley, said she was happy commissioners opened up their resolution to discussion, although she was opposed to its contents. Weld officials should take a longer look at what exactly in Obama’s executive orders are threatening Second Amendment rights, she said.
Weld County Commissioner Doug Rademacher said he feels the Obama administration has overstepped its authority.
“Gun control in this nation has never worked,” Rademacher said, citing high crime rates in places such as Washington, D.C., and Chicago, where gun laws are more restrictive.
Commissioner Mike Freeman noted that both the Aurora and Newtown, Conn., shootings happened in gun-free zones.
Conway said commissioners’ concern is that the gun control mandates do not hold up to a “Constitutional test” — a standard that commissioners use to evaluate every governmental policy. He said government officials should focus more on the mental health side of violent acts.
“It shouldn’t center around chipping away at the Bill of Rights or the Constitution,” Conway said.