Jim Berry: Be fair to Wiggins

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Last Friday’s Steamboat Today showed an interesting contrast between the thoughtful Rob Douglas editorial and the outraged letters to the editor regarding Sheriff Wiggins’ position on Colorado’s new gun laws. Perhaps if the letter writers had had an opportunity to read the editorial first, they might have thought out their comments more carefully.

I personally see no realistic need for high-capacity magazines. However, with the way the new law is written, I see no possibility of their disappearance. This law’s only benefit is in assuaging the feelings of the legislature’s constituents and, thus, it’s a feel-good law only. The same applies to the other new laws. All five of the letter writers had assumed that the new laws were good ones, and they had been enjoying the feel-good phase of these politically inspired laws. Understandably, they now are frustrated when an individual with law enforcement knowledge and experience has the courage to explain to them why their new pet laws won’t work.

Perhaps some of us should be more concerned about background checks on our legislative candidates before stepping next time into the voting booth. So, let’s stop trying to kill the messenger and concentrate on who created such impractical laws. Let’s recognize that higher officialdom is the real problem here, and not the local sheriff. We all want workable solutions to an existing problem, but let’s be fair with a sheriff who does a good job, is practical about what can be realistically accomplished and has the courage to explain his views to the public.

Jim Berry

Clark

Comments

Rick Pighini 1 year, 5 months ago

The proper way to deal with this law is for our sheriff to do his best to enforce the law he believes can not be enforced. If someone gets arrested in this process then that person goes to the courts and lets our judicial system decide its fate. There was no reason other then politics for the sheriff to say anything. Sometimes it's better to stay quite and let people assume your not so bright then to open your mouth and remove all possible doubt.

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mark hartless 1 year, 5 months ago

It's THAN, not then... Rick... THAN with an "A"... twice...

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Brian Kotowski 1 year, 5 months ago

Rick - if I sell one of my semi autos to a neighbor over a handshake and some cash, how do you propose that Sheriff Wiggins enforce the background check? Or the prohibition against magazines that are "readily convertible" to accept more than 15 rounds?

You'd be well advised to follow your own admonition and avoid the pitfall of doubt removal. And acquaint yourself with the distinctions between and appropriate uses of your and you're.

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 5 months ago

The law is to not to make large capacity magazines to "disappear". It is to stop them from being sold with guns.

Nor are the new laws expected to cure mental disease or discourage people from becoming felons. It is to stop those people from purchasing guns.

So yes, the new laws will fail to do all sorts of things that they are not expected to do. But that does not mean they should not be enforced and thus prevent any chance of them doing what they are supposed to do.

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Rick Pighini 1 year, 5 months ago

Brian I've read a lot of your comments, the sheriff would do the best he can and if for some reason and some how he caught you, you could battle the courts for all of us. So step up let the sheriff catch you then go to court and get it thrown out for all of us. That's the way things are done in this country.

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Brian Kotowski 1 year, 5 months ago

Um, ok. And thanks for removing all possible doubt.

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George Fargo 1 year, 5 months ago

The background check is the most useful of these laws. The way enforcement would work is if your neighbor went off the deep end next week and killed 20 people with the gun you sold him, you would be going to jail. So the question is how much do you trust the guy you illegally sell the gun to....

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mark hartless 1 year, 5 months ago

Before the gun barrel cools I'd be calling to report the gun "stolen". Then what does the sheriff do? How would anyone know where the gun came from if I didn't do the background check? If I bought the gun 20 years prior from a private citizen???

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George Fargo 1 year, 5 months ago

Mark - the scenarios are endless. But I was merely pointing out that a lot of laws are enforced not when they happen, but when something bad happens as a result. You can drive drunk and get away with it, but if you hit another car and kill someone you are caught.

My other point is that the sheriff spoke about the unenforcibility of the large clip law and most of the comments on here have addressed that aspect. I get that. But the background checks are more important. I think everyone in the country including the NRA after Sandy Hook was saying we need to keep guns away from the mentally ill (and the bad guys). That will be very difficult, but requiring background checks on all gun sales is a positive step and, by the way, it's not really aimed at you selling your gun to a friend, but at the gun show loophole where many bad guys get their guns.

I mean WalMart has to do it, why not the gun shows? What's the big deal?

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Bob Smith 1 year, 5 months ago

"The Resistance"......HAHA, that's a good one.

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Bob Smith 1 year, 5 months ago

Or maybe "Freedom Fighter" - either way, every time I hear that crazy rhetoric I can't help but laugh (and poke fun in this forum!). This isn't 1776, the U.S. military is a tad better equipped than King George’s redcoats, and if the U.S. Army decides to crush an insurrection, it will do so. Any fanciful notion you have about being some kind of "Resistance" is so completely divorced from reality, that it causes one to question your mental well being. Let it go man, let it go.

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mark hartless 1 year, 5 months ago

"Divorced from reality..." I like that. To what else might that phrase apply? How 'bout the word "trillion"? How 'bout to the word "progressive"? Or "assault" weapon, or "homeland security" or "border", or "fair share", or ...

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Rick Pighini 1 year, 5 months ago

Yep, I guess it's to hard for some of you guys to understand what I'm saying so I'll dumb it down. Since the sheriff wouldn't be able to enforce these new laws the whole thing doesn't make a difference. The sheriff didnt have to go on record and say anything. The laws are unenforceable. By the slim chance that someone did get arrested the door would open for judicial review. If this were to happen many of us believe the law would be struck down, thus being void. This wouldn't be a bad thing because it would get it to the courts. This is how we test new laws. I didn't make the rules but this is how it works. The sheriff talking about means nothing thus opening him up to weeks of discussion for no real gain.

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 5 months ago

These new laws are not too difficult for any number of other police and shireffs to constitutionally enforce.

I know of a recent incident in Oak Creek where somebody wanted a shotgun but she knew she couldn't pass the background check. So someone purchased the shotgun and she ended up with it. It was disputed who paid what with whom's money. But if the new law was in effect then most clearly the person that knew she couldn't pass a background check and now possessed the shotgun would be violating the law.

No violations of 4th Amendment is needed to enforce the new gun law when the person with the receipt is not the person with the gun.

But apparently, if that sort of thing were to happen in unincorporated Routt County then Sheriff Wiggins won't enforce the law preventing someone buying a gun without a background check. Meanwhile, if it were to happen in SB or OC then it would appear the police would investigate. Police never like hypotheticals, but they can say they won't ignore state law.

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 5 months ago

The difficulty of enforcing auto theft does not stop the police from enforcing that law. Someone can be driving another person's car and say it is on loan. The owner can want it back and report it stolen. The police can talk to the person with the car. The police can be told the car was on loan and that if the owner wants it back then take it back. There is no easy way to know if the car was loaned or stolen.

Just because there are scenarios which can create questions whether or not the law was violated does not make the law unenforceable. It just means there are situations where the law may be violated but no one will be prosecuted.

There is absolutely no reason that law enforcement would be prevented from exercising judgment in the enforcement of these gun laws. And that is why we have jury trials to also exercise judgment before someone is convicted.

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mark hartless 1 year, 5 months ago

That would help explain the public fool system that is government education.

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