A federal judge has given Democratic Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper a pass from being questioned about a slew of new gun rules, restrictions and regulations approved by the Democrat-controlled legislature this year, ruling he did not have any “personal knowledge” of allegations regarding the bills he signed.
The ruling came in a lawsuit brought by most of the state’s sheriffs over the laws, which they have described as unconstitutional and unenforceable.
Hickenlooper’s brief requesting exemption from questioning argued the plaintiffs “have not alleged that they named the governor as a defendant in this matter because he has any direct connection to, or personal knowledge of, the allegations in the complaint.”
The plaintiffs, which include several organizations and individuals along with the sheriffs, said they wanted to question Hickenlooper because of his multiple statements about the new laws.
“The governor’s reasons for signing the legislation in question are irrelevant,” Hickenlooper argued.
The governor even included a threat in his request to the court, charging that the plaintiffs’ attorney, David Kopel, was involved in “lobbying efforts.” Hickenlooper said that if he were called to testify, he would demand that Kopel be called as a witness.
U.S. Magistrate Michael J. Watanabe agreed with Hickenlooper, finding that the plaintiffs would not be allowed to take a deposition from him.
“His personal thoughts, opinions and beliefs, including an post-enactment statements, have no bearing on the ultimate questions of law on whether the challenged legislation … meets constitutional standards,” the magistrate said.
As WND previously reported, the case lists 54 of the state’s 64 sheriffs as plaintiffs.
Weld County Sheriff John Cooke said: “Some in the media … asked me if I think it’s a good idea or if it’s appropriate for [a] government official to sue another government official. My response is unequivocally yes. It is our duty and responsibility as sheriffs to protect the people who elected us and whom we serve.”
The lawsuit isn’t limited to law enforcement officials. It lists a variety of organizations, including the Colorado Farm Bureau, which has expressed concerns about rural farmers and ranchers having to deal with predators, Women for Concealed Carry and the Colorado Outfitters Association.
Cooke noted that the lawsuit was not a partisan issue, with Republican and Democratic sheriffs taking part.
“This is not about urban versus rural as the governor likes to portray it,” Cooke said. “We have rural and urban plaintiffs in this case. It is about the Constitution. It is about the 2nd and 14th amendments. The suit is about our way of life, our freedoms, our rights, our liberties which transcend political affiliation and place of residence.”
Targeted by the lawsuit is a new state law that any magazine that holds greater than 15 rounds or can be modified to hold greater than 15 rounds is illegal to purchase in the state.
The problem is nearly all magazines are designed with features that make them readily expandable to hold more than 15 rounds. The law’s wording effectively bans all magazines in Colorado.
The law also prevents the transfer of existing magazines holding greater than 15 rounds. The wording states the grandfather clause only applies as long as the holder “maintains continuous possession” of it. Cooke and other sheriffs have pointed out that based on the wording, anyone who gives their magazine to a gunsmith for repair or asks for help on a shooting range with a jammed magazine is now violating the law.
The lawsuit also claims the gun control measures violate the Americans with Disabilities Act as well as individual civil rights.
Dylan Harrell, one of the disabled plaintiffs in the case, said his disability, which confines him to a wheelchair, often makes it more difficult for him to defend himself or his family. He also noted that as an outdoorsman, when exiting his vehicle he needs help.
“I often request the assistance for the safe handling of my firearms anytime I am transferring from a wheelchair to an ATV or another vehicle,” Harrell explained. “It is now against the law for me to even seek assistance anytime I am transferring my firearms for my wheelchair to another vehicle. I am filing this lawsuit on the half of all Coloradans with disabilities such as my own.”
Colorado’s government this year is controlled by Democrats in the governor’s office, in the House and the Senate. It rammed through a number of gun restrictions and limits at the behest of the White House.
In debate over the gun control measures, the vast majority of citizens testifying before the legislature were opposed to any new gun control laws. However, frequently their testimony was dismissed and treated with disdain by Democratic lawmakers who seemed to have already made up their minds about passing the laws.
State Sen. Evie Hudak, D-Westminster, now being targeted by a recall campaign, scolded a witness opposing one of the gun restrictions.
Amanda Collins, 27, of Reno, Nev., was telling her story of being assaulted and explained that had she been carrying a concealed weapon, the incident might have ended differently.
“I just want to say that, actually statistics are not on your side even if you had a gun,” Hudak said. “And, chances are that if you would have had a gun, then he would have been able to get that from you and possibly use it against you.”
Hudak continued, speaking over the committee witness, “The Colorado Coalition Against Gun Violence says that every one woman who used a handgun in self-defense, 83 here are killed by them.”
Finally able to resume her testimony, Collins said, “Senator, you weren’t there. I know without a doubt [the outcome would have been different with a gun].
“He already had a weapon,” she told the meeting of the state Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee. “He didn’t need mine.”
A similar attitude was displayed by state Rep. Joe Salazar.
He said that a woman who feels threatened by rape on a college campus doesn't need to be armed because she can use a call box to get help.
Salazar's statement came in a debate over a proposal to ban citizens possessing a concealed-carry permit from being armed on university campuses.
"It's why we have call boxes," said Salazar, "It's why we have safe zones, it's why we have the whistles. Because you just don't know who you're gonna be shooting at.
"And you don’t know if you feel like you're gonna be raped, or if you feel like someone's been following you around, or if you feel like you're in trouble when you may actually not be, that you pop out that gun and you pop … pop a round at somebody."
Perhaps the most surprising statement came from U.S. Rep. Diane DeGette, a Denver Democrat in Congress who intervened in the state-level argument by displaying her perspective on gun magazines.
"I will tell you these are ammunition, they're bullets, so the people who have those now they're going to shoot them; so if you ban them in the future, the number of these high capacity magazines is going to decrease dramatically over time because the bullets will have been shot, and there won't be any more available," she said.
The Denver Post said DeGette didn't appear to understand that a firearm magazine can be reloaded with more bullets.
State officials admitted they were doing the bidding of the White House. In February, Vice President Joe Biden flew to the state to strong-arm Democratic lawmakers who were feeling pressure from their constituents to vote against the bills.
"He (Biden) said it would send a strong message to the rest of the country that a Western state had passed gun-control bills," Tony Exhum, a Democratic lawmaker from Colorado Springs, told the Denver Post.
House Majority Leader Mark Ferrandino, an open homosexual who also pursued a "civil unions" agenda this year, admitted the gun-control bills introduced by fellow Democrats had national implications.
"I was shocked that he called. He said he thought the bills could help them on a national level," Ferrandino said.