Gun laws unenforceable, but El Paso sheriff says he'll still try to enforce them

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Sheriff Terry Maketa.
During recent months, numerous sheriffs, including Larimer County's Justin Smith and Weld County's John Cooke, have ripped proposed gun-control measures before the Colorado legislature.

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa has been critical of such efforts, too. But his office is upset at local media outlets that have interpreted his view that some are unenforceable with saying he wouldn't try to enforce them. Details, videos and more below.

Last week, as reported by 7News, Maketa made headlines by suggesting that Democratic lawmakers were pressuring law enforcers like him to go along with SB 197, a measure restricting gun ownership for people found guilty of domestic violence.

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Outside the town hall last Thursday.
"As I see it, senate Dems have made it known, 'Sheriffs, obey or no pay for you.' The first word that comes to my mind is extortion," Maketa wrote on his website.

He elaborated in this Facebook post:

I want to make something very clear; I have not been directly threatened or coerced in any way nor would I tolerate any threat. A message delivered verbally to a representative of the Colorado Sheriff's Association basically stated that the Senate Dems are very upset with the Colorado Sheriffs opposing the gun legislation proposed by the Senate Democrats. This message insinuated that this could negatively affect the salary bill which has been delayed and put off by the Democrats with the excuse that they would expect bipartisan support. I do believe the salary proposal is being held hostage.
To further back up his claims, Maketa released an e-mail exchange between him and Chris Olson, the County Sheriffs of Colorado's executive director. It's on view below.

Then, on Thursday, Maketa took part in a town hall meeting in Colorado Springs -- an event that focused on gun laws. Afterward, KOAA-TV reported that Maketa had said he wouldn't enforce new gun laws; the video can be seen on page two of this post. Such a statement would seem perfectly in keeping with his opposition to the legislation, and was hardly unprecedented; this weekend, Weld County's John Cooke said he wouldn't enforce bills calling for background checks and limiting magazine sizes. But Maketa was displeased, with his office putting out a press release (it's below, too) calling out the station, albeit not by name, for "inaccurate reporting."

How so? "The sheriff told the crowd that if a law is passed, he's responsible to enforce the law," says Lieutenant Jeff Kramer, public information officer for the EPSO. "He was very clear he had an obligation to enforce those."

As for why reporters might have gotten confused, Kramer says, "the sheriff also explained that many aspects of the laws are unenforceable -- but that doesn't mean he won't try to enforce them. Realistically, it can be very difficult to establish a criminal case against people based on the bills -- to know if someone is in violation, or if he might fall into a grandfather status, so to speak. But that doesn't mean he wouldn't try to enforce them."

The station wasn't named, Kramer goes on, because the sheriff's office had been negotiating with personnel there to get the error corrected -- and indeed, the KOAA link in the 7News story is now dead. However, the video remains accessible at this writing, and so are plenty of other reports based at least in part on KOAA's reporting -- the 7News item included.

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The crowd that attended the town hall.
That's par for the course in 21st century media. If one outlet corrects an item, that doesn't guarantee others that may have passed along the same inaccurate information will do likewise. And Kramer acknowledges that finding and then contacting each of them isn't practical.

"I don't know if we're necessarily trying to run that race," he says. "We sent out our release to the broadest level of media contacts we have. We would hope folks would see the accurate position stated, correct it in past reporting, and be aware of it as they move forward in any future reporting.

"It's important for us, as it is with any law enforcement agency, to have positive relationships with the media," he adds. "We realize it's a two-way street, which is why we didn't name the station. But it's important to us that the correct stance is out there, so people will understand the sheriff's viewpoint."

Continue to see the KOAA report about the town hall (warning: the video is in auto-play, so it'll start as soon as you click on the page), plus a clip from a Maketa NRA radio program appearance, the e-mail exchange between Terry Maketa and Chris Olson, and the press release.


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63 comments
Mozart99
Mozart99

He is a liar. Let all the gun lovers move to El Paso and Greeley counties. No doubt the El Paso sheriff heard from the feds and the state about withdrawing funds. No one complained when cities and police chiefs said they didn't have staff to enforce federal laws on immigrations. This is a state law, not an amateur genocide.

Stephan Reuchlein
Stephan Reuchlein

John Gandy, "the people" is a separate subject in the Bill so get over your incorrect interpretation. It has been affirmed by SCOTUS in 2008.

Stephan Reuchlein
Stephan Reuchlein

We should be determining how to deter crime not make more criminals due to illogical and asinine Bills that were poorly written and thought out. One was written by a criminal, is that what we want, those who break the law to make the law? Ignorance is too rampant in Colorado.

Squi Rrel
Squi Rrel

just because its illegal doesn't mean its not right. weed has been illegal for years but I know you smoke. J walking is illegal but we do it anyways. Thank god the motorcycle helmet law isn't in Colorado, you shouldn't have to wear seat belts ether. So what if he finds a gun that hold 16 bullets, I'm sure if he found a guy with tons of ammo, all sorts of shady shit he would do something to put a stop to it. PS, YOU DON'T EVEN LIVE IN COLORADO! go Broncos

John Gandy
John Gandy

Well then you have a sheriff that supports illegal activity then... That sucks... I'm going to go look at pictures of cats now...

Squi Rrel
Squi Rrel

plus its not hard to make a magazine, in fact you can buy "kits" its not a 20 round mag, its a KIT

John Gandy
John Gandy

Those have been in place? Then why is he signing the bill on wednesday? What the hell are you complaining about?

Squi Rrel
Squi Rrel

now how easy is it to buy a gun on the street illegally? much easier huh. prohibition doesn't work, ever, with anything. EVER

Squi Rrel
Squi Rrel

those laws are already in the books and have been for years. do you know how much a background check cost? $78 last time I got one, and I failed because I didn't have a piece of mail like an electric bill with my name and matching address, and thats NON REFUNDABLE!

John Gandy
John Gandy

These are the bills in question- - A 15-ammunition limit on magazines; - A universal background check for prospective gun buyers; and - A requirement for gun purchasers to pay for their own background checks They are not taking any guns away... Everyone keeps what they have... It will just be harder to get a gun if you are oh say a convicted felon... I fail to see how these can even be enforced by the sheriff nor do I see these things as horrible infringemenst on my rights cuz guess what, I can still buy a gun...

Squi Rrel
Squi Rrel

Even if we got rid of all the guns in the world, a crazy person could still just rent a Uhaul truck and ram it into a farmers market, playground, a line outside of a theater or club, an outdoor concert. The general population are good people, guns are equalizers. If there would have been a concealed carry it that Aurora theater there would have been a chance. If a school wasn't a gun free zone maybe some crazy person wouldn't think that's the best place to shoot a bunch of people.

Leo Bortolotto
Leo Bortolotto

You are a civil servant and you must respect the will of the people. You have been hired to enforce laws, not adjudicate them.

Squi Rrel
Squi Rrel

If you ever shot an ar-15 you'd know that they jam anytime you put a funny mag on them, that's why the shooter in Colorado can only get 4 or 5 shots of with his 70 round magazine before it was unfunctional. Plus we already have the bullet button law

Squi Rrel
Squi Rrel

Every civilian is a soldier acording to George Washington.

John Gandy
John Gandy

technically the NRA is a militia

Squi Rrel
Squi Rrel

I am pretty sure it says that they should KEEP their arms

John Gandy
John Gandy

mi·li·tia /məˈliSHə/Noun 1.A military force of civilians to supplement a regular army in an emergency.

Squi Rrel
Squi Rrel

Changes everything you're talking about the people not the military or malicia.

Squi Rrel
Squi Rrel

You forgot the, after malicia

Squi Rrel
Squi Rrel

Just bank robberies in north hollywood

John Gandy
John Gandy

and the word is enforcing the second ammendment... To remind you what the constitution says: A well REGULATED militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed Keyword regulated...

John Gandy
John Gandy

If they had these regulations (the same ones we have had here in California) the access to guns/ammo would be cut down... So its a good thing they've never had (or expect to have) any school shootings...

Squi Rrel
Squi Rrel

They have an oath to the Constitution first and foremost above anything else. And this gun ban is unconstitutional. I'm sure I judge will say the same. It says right there in the Second Amendment " shall not be infringed upon" confiscating someone's gun that they purchased legally is insane. And when the Chinese drones get here everyone's gonna wish they had those 30 round magazines

Squi Rrel
Squi Rrel

I would say they're inforcing the second Amendment.

Steve At Work
Steve At Work

In the past 90 days an estimated 15,000 large magazines have either been distributed or sold in Colorado due to the upcoming law. Now there are more of these magazines in our state, ten times more, than before. Step 2 - vote the morons from office and return the Constitution.

Bill Van Dorn
Bill Van Dorn

I think it is great! They can do that by the nature of their hiring vs city chiefs...

Rich Madison
Rich Madison

It's fantastic because these laws are useless. Also keep in mind that they couldn't enforce them even if they wanted to.

Cindy Hill
Cindy Hill

Where's the money to enforce these new laws you ask? Same place the money to enforce the old laws is - in your department budget. Why does there have to be a budget upgrade every time a new law comes on the books? Or is that something you only need when you don't agree with the new law? You get paid to enforce the law, you do your job or look for other work!! (So glad I don't live in Weld County any more.)

Your Organic Life
Your Organic Life

This is my sheriff, and he's embarrassing us as he postures to run for a higher office. This is only one of the crazy claims he's made publicly lately. As sheriff, it's his job to enforce the law regardless of what he thinks about it.

Steve At Work
Steve At Work

If you read the pending laws carefully, you'll find numerous loopholes still exist. Thankfully.

Stephan Reuchlein
Stephan Reuchlein

Obama is ignoring Federal Immigration laws and has instructed DOJ to do the same, where is the outrage?

Jen Neb
Jen Neb

When law enforcement can't follow the laws before them...it really sets a negative tone for civilians to not have to respect the law....

John Trujillo
John Trujillo

When law enforcement thinks it can pick and choose what to enforce, they then have gone beyond their job. Fire em!!

Cara McKeller
Cara McKeller

The application of laws gives law enforcement the authority to appropriately address and prevent potentially dangerous situations. Laws are not always followed, very true, but they do give the officers the authority to remove weapons from the possession from those who should not have them before there is an incident. It also provides for the courts to keep offenders that break those new laws out of the community. The argument that criminals don't follow the law is silly. They are only criminals if there is a law in place that they are breaking, if it is legal to possess a powerful weapon regardless of your history of behavior, then you are only committing a crime once you have made at least an attempt to harm someone. If, however, there is strong evidence you will intentionally harm someone and are found to have a weapon you do not have the legal right to possess it can be taken from you and appropriate action can be taken before hand. It is not expected to prevent all tragic incidents, but it very well may stop some of them.

Damien Roberts
Damien Roberts

I honestly don't feel passionately about this topic, but in my opinion it's not law enforcements responsibility to make the law, but as their name implies enforce it.

Stephan Reuchlein
Stephan Reuchlein

Actually, the Sheriffs job is to pick and choose what laws are applicable to the safety of their county, federal service has no choice.

Josephine Velázquez
Josephine Velázquez

Personal opinions do not apply when your job is to protect and serve the people in the community. This is not a pick and choose option. I served in the US Coast Guard. I didn't necessarily agree with several of our policies. Not following the letter of the law, can get one court marshaled. Similar punishments should be applied here.

Stephan Reuchlein
Stephan Reuchlein

Elected officials cant be "fired". As has been determined, he is not breaking any laws, he had the authority to make this decision. He is still enforcing the Constitution. He is doing the same thing Obama has with immigration reform. He is the one of the elected officials who is actually doing what his constituents want.

Stephanie McCutcheon
Stephanie McCutcheon

I'm with these guys and applaud their level-headedness. Wish ppl would realize that more laws aren't the answer. Criminals don't obey laws, folks!

Mozart99
Mozart99

@John Gandy If deputies pulled a car over and found someone inside with an illegal clip that is how the law could be enforced. and there are other ways.

Mozart99
Mozart99

@Squi Rrel so should we get rid of laws about burglary, murder, rape, etc, because many people get away with violating them?

Mozart99
Mozart99

@Squi Rrel yeah and every black person is three fifths a human

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