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When lawmen oppose gun laws, that’s a bad signal

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The New York Times reported yesterday – the same day that American gun owners observed “Guns Save Lives Day” – that hundreds of county sheriffs, including all but seven in Colorado, are refusing to enforce new laws in their states adopted in response to last year’s Sandy Hook tragedy.

One outrage – Sandy Hook – was the launch pad for Colorado’s new restrictions. If Colorado’s lawmakers subscribe to the same standard, Friday’s attack at Colorado’s Arapahoe High School should be all the reason necessary for full repeal. After all, gunman Karl Pierson followed the law and bought the gun legally. In the process he demonstrated that the new laws didn't work.

Gun prohibitionists will probably insist that this just proves even tougher restrictions are necessary, because gun control advocates can never be wrong.

The Times story appeared two days after the Arapahoe shooting, which left 17-year-old Claire Esther Davis critically wounded and who remains in a coma today. The 18-year-old gunman apparently came to the school Friday prepared to do much greater carnage, but he reportedly only fired five rounds from the pump-action shotgun he was carrying. One of those rounds hit Miss Davis at what has been called “point blank range.”

It was all over in less than two minutes, according to CNN.

One story in the Denver Post over the weekend described how Arapahoe County Sheriff’s deputy James Englert quickly responded to the shooting. Some, including KVI’s John Carlson, are speculating that it was this “good guy with a gun” that caused Pierson to take his own life rather than confront someone who could take him down.

As this column noted over the weekend, a profile of Pierson is emerging that does not fit the typical mass shooter. He was not a loner. He was intelligent, had been on the debate team and was apparently politically active. It was reported that he had “strong anti-gun beliefs” and that he was pretty far left in his political views. If so, those ideals may have jibed with the politics of people who pushed for tougher gun laws following Sandy Hook, but they do not concur with the county sheriffs who oppose those laws.

County sheriffs, unlike municipal police chiefs, answer to their constituents and must run for election. City police chiefs answer to their mayors or city managers, so it is not unusual for them to concur with the anti-gun positions taken by city officials.

But when the highest elected law enforcement official in any county publicly refuses to enforce a law because of its questionable constitutionality, or his / her inability to enforce that law, it may be time for the public to start asking questions. Those questions should be aimed not at the sheriffs, but the legislators who let their politics overcome common sense.

Coloradans seem to understand that, following the recall of two anti-gun state senators and the abrupt resignation of a third who quit rather than risk losing Senate control to the opposing party. It is not anarchy for sheriffs to refuse to enforce a law they think is unenforceable. It is a signal that anti-gun lawmakers have gone too far, and after Friday’s events, it is clear their politically correct panacea did not work.

Over the weekend, American gun owners went about their activities peaceably at scores of gun shows around the country, as they did in Puyallup where the Washington Arms Collectors held their monthly gathering. They visited gun shops and shooting ranges. They bought, sold, traded and used firearms responsibly and nobody got hurt.

There’s a message, and a moral, in there somewhere.

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