As your sheriff, I support the Second Amendment, which protects the right to keep and bear arms. I also support any laws that strengthen that constitutional right. I believe that more restrictive gun laws for law-abiding citizens will not have any positive effect on public safety. They will not prevent another massacre in a theater nor another mass murder in a school.
I have reviewed and weighed the impact of Colorado's three newest gun control measures, which will become law July 1.
• I believe that law-abiding citizens have the constitutional right to gun ownership and the right to be safe in their homes and communities.
• I do not agree that high-capacity magazines should be limited for law-abiding citizens. Criminals will just steal them or purchase them out-of-state.
• I don't think that semi-automatic weapons should be regulated, as is being discussed nationally.
• I don't think the laws will make people safer. For example, some American cities with strict gun laws have more gun violence than most other places.
• Tighter gun laws will not prevent criminals from getting guns. The laws will only make it harder for law-abiding citizens to defend themselves.
• The new legislation does not address mental health screening and it should. In two recent cases — in Aurora and in Newtown, Conn. — the killers either stole the guns or bought them legally despite concerns about their mental health. The additional background checks still do not evaluate or validate the buyer's mental health.
• The new laws are too vague, which means they will be subject to judicial interpretation, and future legislation will be needed to further define them.
• The gun control measures will be difficult, if not impossible, to enforce.
• The new laws do not address the problems of criminals stealing guns or of buying firearms out of state to use in Colorado. Background checks for private firearm transfers will only impact, again, law-abiding citizens.
• There are also concerns that the background check could become a hidden state tracking system of gun owners, whereby the legislature may enact legislation that's punitive to gun owners. For example, in 2013, lawmakers proposed legislation to make gun owners civilly liable even if their firearms had been stolen.
As sheriff, I am sworn to enforce the laws of the State of Colorado, but I am also sworn to uphold the U.S. and state constitutions. When these two duties conflict, as I anticipate they will over the coming months, I will exercise the discretion that you, as the citizens of Douglas County, have granted me, to the best of my ability. I will not disregard the new laws; but neither do I see myself ordering gun magazine roundups, or any other radical steps over which you, the citizenry, have expressed valid concerns.
David Weaver is the sheriff of Douglas County