COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., May 28, 2013 — Tuesday night at the Freedom Financial Event Center in Colorado Springs over 800 people rallied to support Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith, Weld County Sheriff John Cooke, El Paso Country Sheriff Terry Maketa and the Independence Institute in their lawsuit against the unconstitutional gun laws passed by the Colorado legislature in March.
Just hours after Gov. Hickenlooper signed the gun bills in March, the Independence Institute filed suit in U.S. District Court on behalf of 55 Colorado sheriffs and a number of other organizations and individuals. Dave Kopel, who has been very active in Second Amendment legislation, wrote the brief for the lawsuit.
Independence Institute Executive Vice President Amy Oliver Cooke began the proceedings by noting that Colorado Senate President John Morse — currently being recalled in El Paso County — was elected by about 13,000 votes while the three sheriffs present were elected with over 156,000 votes.
“Who,” she asked, “is more representative of Colorado’s citizens?”
Sheriff Smith said that those who had passed the bills called the sheriffs “rogue;” however, when the number of sheriffs opposing the magazine ban and expanded background checks grew to 55 of the state’s 62 sheriffs, it became clear that the sheriffs who spoke out initially were not alone. He also said that each of the sheriffs had a story to tell of a Denver police officer, a state patrolman, a local police officer, and even federal agents who came up to them and gave their support privately, saying they were being prohibited from speaking publically.
Sheriff Cooke said that the lawsuit is about the Constitution and public safety, and that these laws hinder public safety. The lawsuit, he said, is about freedom, liberty and the right to self-protection.
Sheriff Maketa said that in over thirteen years in his involvement with the legislative process this was the first time that he, as an elected sheriff, was not allowed to speak at the hearings. El Paso County is the largest county in Colorado and Sheriff Maketa was reelected with 81 percent of the vote in 2012.
He said that the east coast gun grabbers picked the fight in Colorado and that passing these bills was “our Alamo.” They counted on us doing nothing about it, he said, but they were wrong.
Dave Kopel explained some facts of the suit, saying that the sheriffs and district attorneys of the state of Colorado, many of whom support the sheriffs, are elected by the people and derive their authority from the people no less than the legislature does.
It was also mentioned that the New York state sheriff’s association voted unanimously to file an amicus brief in the New York lawsuit against their gun ban. That law was passed so quickly that even police were not exempt from magazine size limits.
John Caldera, director of the Independence Institute, said that he has never seen such cooperation in the fight against these unconstitutional laws in his two decades of activism.
Also on Tuesday, the El Paso County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution of support for Sheriff Maketa and the lawsuit. Commissioner Amy Lathen said they were sending copies of their resolution to all the county commissions in Colorado.
After the speeches, there was an auction that raised over $3000 for the lawsuit. The auction included a signed copy of the county resolution. All told, over $11,000 was raised. There was also a raffle for Magpul 30-round magazines. The magazines were handed out to the winners by the sheriffs and others.
The three sheriffs and the people from the Independence Institute were in Loveland the previous day, Memorial Day, speaking to a rally of 400. Amy Cooke said the group would travel to wherever in the state they were asked to go. They already have plans for appearances in Garfield and Delta counties.
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