John Stroud
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
Aspen CO Colorado

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January 24, 2013
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Garfield County sheriff weighs in on gun-control controversy

GLENWOOD SPRINGS - Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario said he opposes any legislative attempts at enacting new gun-control laws, which he believes would infringe on the constitutional right of citizens to keep and bear arms under the Second Amendment.

However, he stopped short of saying he would not enforce any new laws that come out of the state Legislature or from the federal government, as some Front Range sheriffs and other law enforcement officials across the country have suggested.

Vallario, in one of his semi-regular "Just the Facts" commentaries issued Wednesday, wrote that he unequivocally supports the Second Amendment, "without compromise."

"The starting point and ending point of our position should be that the rights of law-abiding citizens to 'keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed,'" Vallario wrote. "That last phrase, carefully crafted by the Founding Fathers, makes this right absolute. Nothing further should be discussed."

While he said he supports and is sworn as an elected official to uphold both the state and federal constitutions, Vallario said it's his job to enforce whatever laws are on the books. That could include some laws he doesn't personally agree with.

"Once a law is enacted and has gone through the process, I don't feel that as a law enforcement officer I can say I'm going to enforce this law but not that law," Vallario said in a follow-up interview. "We don't get to pick and choose those things."

Until such laws are passed, he said he personally opposes any legislative attempt to limit a law-abiding citizen's right to own guns, as protected by the Second Amendment.

"Hopefully, individually and collectively, our voices will be heard by those who represent us in the Legislature," Vallario wrote in his commentary, which can be found in its entirety at www.garco

sheriff.com/just_the_facts.html.

Recently, other Colorado sheriffs have weighed in on the gun-control issue. Last week, according to the Denver Post, Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith and Weld County Sheriff John Cooke both suggested that they would not enforce laws that threaten the Second Amendment.

Smith apparently later clarified that he was only stating his opinion on constitutional grounds and would uphold the law.

On Tuesday, Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson said he, too, supports the right to bear arms. But he said he takes exception to those in law enforcement who would reject enforcement of gun-control laws, according to an article in Wednesday's Denver Post.

Like Robinson, Vallario said he has been asked by local constituents about his position on the Second Amendment and gun-control efforts.

"Obviously, people want to hear from their elected law enforcement representatives on these sorts of things," Vallario said. "I do think my opinion and my position is important to the people of Garfield County."

Vallario said he used to support the creation of databases on people who have concealed-weapons permits as well as background checks prior to purchasing guns.

However, he said he's changed his thinking on those provisions and is not convinced that they will prevent gun violence and criminal activity.

"I oppose any government intervention into the rights of law-abiding citizens," Vallario also wrote in his commentary. "As a law enforcement official, I know that criminals will not comply with these requirements.

"Background checks and databases serve no purpose other than creating a way to take honest, law-abiding citizens and turn them into criminals if they don't comply."

Vallario added that he supports "further discussion and debate regarding school safety programs, mental illness, severe penalties for criminals, and other measures that will strengthen our personal security and reduce gun crimes."


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The Aspen Times Updated Jan 24, 2013 01:59AM Published Jan 24, 2013 01:58AM Copyright 2013 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.