I spent all day at the state capital yesterday (March 7), testifying on behalf of County Sheriffs of Colorado in favor of five pro-gun/pro Public Safety/pro liberty bills. All five bills, heard in the House State, Veterans, and Military Affairs committee, were killed, as expected, on a 5 to 4 straight party-line vote. I was aware before I even left home to go testify, that the outcome was likely, however, it is important for there to be an official record of Sheriffs support for such legislation for future consideration. What struck me though, was that during public testimony, the basic philosophical difference between pro-gun and anti-gun camps was so evident.
The anti-gun camp was very clear in their message of concern for any existence or carry method of firearms posing a great and unacceptable risk to public safety. As expected, the pro-gun testimony was likewise very clear that the availability of weapons for personal defense is what would minimize the inevitable situations where awful acts are carried out.
It should be no surprise that in general, I agree with the pro-gun sentiment. Where I tend to diverge, is that I believe the issue, the real core issue of almost every gun related bill or legislation is a proper understanding of the original and still current purpose of the Second Amendment to our United States Constitution. It has been codified in case law that reasonable restrictions can be placed on American’s Second Amendment rights, however, that does not change the original and prevailing purpose of that right, so clearly and plainly listed in our bill of most basic rights as citizens of this free country. The purpose of the Second Amendment was, and still is, for Americans to be able to protect ourselves from inappropriate and extreme over-each by our own government, in a word, tyranny.
As a representative of the government, I do not make that statement lightly. During my testimony in favor of one of the 5 bills presented for debate and public comment that day, I made the statement that the purpose of the Second Amendment was for Americans to protect themselves from our own government. That statement was received with gasps by some in the gallery which was followed by the statement, “you are the government!”
That is a correct statement. As a public servant, it is the job of the County Sheriff, elected by the people, to protect the people’s right to arm themselves for the expressed purpose of protecting themselves from government tyranny, even if that tyranny, God forbid, were to come from me. This is the most simple and basic check and balance that exists in our free, liberty loving form of government. This right is what gives teeth to free American’s exercise of all their other rights provided in our Constitution.
To be sure, it is the responsibility of law enforcement to seek out those that would violate law and pose a risk of safety to their fellow man, and deal with those acts swiftly and appropriately. It is, in my opinion, and the opinion of many wise and learned constitutional scholars, an even greater responsibility of sworn law enforcement, to actively protect the God-given rights and liberties that this great country of ours provides to its free people.
Sometimes, the exercise of those rights creates the possibility of danger. The mere possibility of danger is not sufficient to infringe upon those rights. The standard is, and must be higher to tolerate the infringement of rights enumerated in our controlling document. That statement and belief is the crux of the difference between the pro-gun and anti-gun crowd. Anti-gunners are willing to infringe upon the rights of anyone, even sometimes the law enforcement personnel who swore and oath to protect them and their rights, in order to attempt to mitigate any possibility of danger. Conversely, and in general, pro-gun Americans are willing to except the possible danger that is part and parcel to living in a free society in order to maintain the ability to forcibly hold our government properly in check.
I see it as my proper and sworn duty to not only stand by my testimony, but to reiterate and expound upon it, and to encourage all law enforcement officials, elected and appointed, who have sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States to do so as well, and boldly.