COLO. SPRINGS – More than 800 people filled The Freedom Financial Expo Center this week to rally for 2nd Amendment rights and raised more than $15,000 for the lawsuit filed by 55 county sheriffs challenging the constitutionality of gun-control measures signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper.
But another target of the fundraiser was embattled Senate President John Morse (D-Colo. Springs) whose office Tweeted the message “#Sheriffs4Criminals …“2day CO sheriffs stood in opposition of CO’s new gun laws, but not w/law-abiding citizens, but with criminals,” earlier this month.
El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa referred to Morse as the unnamed senator from Colorado Springs and “criminals” – a comment endorsed by thunderous applause, whistles and cheers from the audience.
“He is bought and paid for, and I have no problem saying that because if you track the money, it takes you to the criminals,” said Maketa. “I know people are out there going, ‘Oh geez, did he just call somebody a criminal?’ – I did!”
Unclear was Maketa’s reference to “criminals” – some construed it as the money and influence from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Mayors Against Illegal Guns group to push gun-control laws in Colorado and defend Morse from being recalled.
Morse may be sweating bullets over being recalled; backers of the petition effort, which will end June 3, are confident that they have garnered the necessary 7,178 signatures to place the recall question on the ballot.
Morse drew the ire of the sheriffs and voters for zealously pushing through gun-control bills, cutting off opponents’ testimony and admittedly ignoring calls and emails from constituents.
Maketa is one of several county sheriffs who attempted to testify against the gun-control legislation and who filed a lawsuit challenging two of the measures, House Bills 1224 and 1229, both of which the sheriffs contend are unconstitutional and impossible to enforce.
HB 1224 bans the transfer or sales of magazines greater than 15 rounds. HB 1229 requires mandatory background checks for all firearm transfers – including temporary ones — and mandates all transfers be performed by a licensed federal agent.
Critics have also expressed concerns that a universal background check requirement could pave the way for a gun registry.
The sheriffs’ lawsuit, filed by the Independence Institute, was joined by the Colorado Farm Bureau, Magpul Industries, the Colorado State Shooting Association, the Colorado Outfitters Association, Colorado Youth Outdoors, Women for Concealed Carry, licensed firearms dealers, and Outdoor Buddies, a charity for the disabled.
The El Paso County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution earlier this year to oppose the Democrat gun-control package and protect gun rights this week, as well as a resolution to support and join the lawsuit.
The $5-a-person fundraiser raised another $3,000 by auctioning off the resolutions signed by county Commissioners Peggy Littleton, Amy Lathen, Sallie Clark, Darryl Glenn and Dennis Hisey as well as Maketa, Weld County Sheriff John Cooke and Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith.
More money was raised when Maketa raffled off 30-round magazines manufactured by Magpul which plans to leave the state as a result of the ban, which is scheduled to go into effect July 1.
A similar rally drew 400 people in Larimer County on Memorial Day, and others are scheduled in Garfield and Delta counties.
The Weld County Board of Commissioners plans to pass an ordinance on June 10 that would prohibit current and future commissioners from adopting stricter gun laws.
Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway said the ordinance was crafted to ensure that there will be no infringement upon the 2nd Amendment rights of citizens.