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Mar 29, 2013 8:14 PM by Andy Koen

Teller County Sheriff calls gun laws unenforceable

COLORADO SPRINGS - Teller County Sheriff Mike Ensminger is speaking out about the new controversial state gun control laws describing them as unenforceable.

"I want it firmly understood," Ensminger stated. "My position is not only not to enforce these laws but to give a rational as to why these laws can't be enforced."

He and the other 61 elected county sheriffs in Colorado state have the authority to interpret state law, and Ensminger says for him that begins with the Bill of Rights of the US Constitution.

"I cannot, because of the oath of office that I took, enforce a law that's going to violate somebody's rights," Ensminger explains.

He feels that each of the new laws passed thus far violates the 2nd Amendment protection to keep and bear arms. Beyond that, Ensminger feels the language of the new laws is too murky to give his deputies a clear task when enforcing them.

"We don't have meat to the statute that is clear and concise and in the format of specific elements to the crime, we simply can't enforce it," he said.

For example, House Bill 1224, the high capacity magazine ban. Sheriff Ensminger says it's difficult, if not impossible, to tell where or when a magazine was purchased. The law makes it a misdemeanor offense to buy or acquire a magazine that holds more than 15 rounds after July 1, 2013. If the magazine is used during a crime, possession becomes a Class 6 Felony.

House Bill 1229, the universal background check law, makes it a Class 1 Misdemeanor to buy, sell, or give a gun to another person in Colorado without both parties having first submitted to criminal background searches. House Bill 1228 requires gun owners and sellers to pay for the background checks.

Ensminger is not alone in his criticism. El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa expressed similar frustrations with the laws at a town hall meeting back on March 14.

'"I've been asked a lot, Sheriff are you going to protect our second amendment rights are you going to fight for us? The answer is absolute yes I'm doing it right now," Maketa told the crowd at Centennial Hall.

To date, no single state entity has offered guidance to the sheriffs on how to interpret the laws. For now, it's up to the sheriffs, district attorneys and the Attorney General to sort through.

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