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El Paso County Republicans ready for gun measure fight

By Joe Dominguez, Multimedia Journalist - Pueblo Chieftain Bureau , j.dominguez@krdo.com
Published On: Mar 15 2013 12:14:24 AM CDT
Updated On: Mar 15 2013 12:18:31 AM CDT

Current gun laws working their way through the State Capitol won't be the last word on reform. That's the promise from El Paso County elected leaders.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -

Current gun laws working their way through the State Capitol won't be the last word on reform. That's the promise from El Paso County elected leaders.

The commissioners and the sheriff led a town hall meeting on guns Thursday night.

Many who attended believe local leaders are listening to their discontent over proposed gun measures, unlike state lawmakers.

El Paso County Commissioner Amy Lathen urged the crowd to implore Gov. John Hickenlooper to not sign the bills into law since it appears four will make it to the governor's desk.

"Take the ink out of the governor's pen," said Lathen.

Lathen said the commissioners and sheriff are looking into "every option" to block the gun-control measures.

The proposed measures would require background checks for all gun purchases, require domestic violence suspects to give up their firearms and ban high-capacity magazines in Colorado.

Sheriff Terry Maketa said some of these measures are unenforceable and one in particular actually escalates the potential for violence.

Maketa objects to Senate bill 197 which requires domestic violence suspects to surrender their weapons. The sheriff said that would create the opposite effect of trying to separate a fighting couple because the suspect would have to return to the home to retrieve his or her gun and turn it in.

Those who attended the town hall meeting believe the sheriff and most commissioners are ready to fight the gun-control measures should they become law.

"It's up to the sheriffs to take a stand against tyranny, which is what we're seeing and it appears that our sheriff is going to take that stand," said Seth Myers, one of about 300 people who showed for the meeting.

This meeting comes just a few days after a very public feud between Maketa and Senate President John Morse over the proposed gun laws.

Maketa believes emails he received from the sheriff's lobbying group indicate that Morse on two occasions sought to block the introduction of an increased salary bill for elected law enforcement leaders statewide.

Maketa said he was told by email that Democratic leaders would require the bill to have seven Republican senators sign on as sponsors before it was introduced.

Maketa said on the El Paso County sheriff's website that he finds it disingenuous that lawmakers would hold the increased salary bill to a higher standard than other bills.

"If it is the statutory responsibility of the Legislature to adjust these salaries, and the Democrat leadership appointed the membership of the commission and their findings are fact-based, why would the Legislature not enter into discussions and meet its statutory responsibility?" asked Maketa.

All this comes to light after the County Sheriff's of Colorado came out with a strongly-worded opposition to all gun-control measures and testified against those measures at the Capitol. Maketa said punishing sheriff's pay for being against the gun-control measures isn't fair because the two are separate issues.

Senator Morse has denied the two are related. He said there was never any extortion or threats made by Democrats to the County Sheriff's of Colorado. Morse said the introducing the salary bill earlier in the legislative session was not politically appropriate.

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