MONTROSE – The Montrose City Council approved a resolution Monday supporting the lawsuit of 54 Colorado county sheriffs and their court challenge to recently passed gun legislation. Montrose councilmembers also said restrictions on magazine limits and mandatory background checks are not enforceable.
Council members Kathy Ellis, Bob Nicholson, Judy Ann Files and Thomas Smits voted in favor of the resolution which states the council "find(s) the enacted legislation unenforceable and places our law enforcement officers in a tenuous position.
"The City Council of the City of Montrose hereby declares its support for Sheriff Dunlap in his lawsuit filed in United States District Court captioned, Cooke, et al v. Hickenlooper, 13-CV-1300."
Montrose County Sheriff Rick Dunlap along with local sheriffs Fred McKee of Delta County and Ouray Sheriff Dominic “Junior” Mattivi have joined in the lawsuit arguing that the Colorado magazine bill, which limits gun magazines to 15 rounds, and the background check bill, which requires background checks for all transfers and sales of firearms, are unconstitutional.
Those laws are set to go into effect July 1.
The Colorado sheriffs' lawsuit only addresses the state gun laws and makes no claims that sheriffs' powers supersede those of the state or federal government.
Only council member Carol McDermott voted against the resolution, which passed 4-1. McDermott said she did not believe certain parts of government should "sue other parts of government" and called the lawsuit "frivolous."
"This seems to me to be an attack on the Governor (John Hickenlooper), the guy who signed the bill but did not create it. It passed both houses of legislature, our beef should be with them, the legislature. And we can un-elect them anytime we want to," McDermott said.
McDermott said more gun locks, gun safety classes and more funds directed to mental health resources would allow mental health professionals to identify individuals with serious mental illness and work to prohibit them from accessing firearms.
City Attorney Stephen Alcorn told council that the Independence Institute, a conservative Colorado think-tank, is representing the sheriffs pro bono and through donations, stating "there is absolute no city expense incurred with this resolution."
Sheriffs representing 54 of the state’s 64 counties joined in the suit, which charged that the legislation signed into law by Hickenlooper is an unconstitutional restriction of Second Amendment rights.
Critics of the laws said its passage was a rushed effort to push through new gun regulation in the wake of a series of gun massacres in Colorado and elsewhere.
Council member Nicholson said legislative efforts to curb gun violence was "moving in the right direction" but said legislators in Denver failed to recognize that the laws signed last March won’t be enforceable.
"I think there are better ways we could have moved forward with gun issues," Nicholson said generally.
MONTROSE COUNCIL BRIEFS
The Montrose City council on Monday unanimously approved a intergovernmental agreement with the City of Ouray to allow Montrose Police Department Commander Gene Lillard serve as interim Ouray police chief while that department rebuilds.
Montrose Police Chief Tom Chinn said Lillard's experience will greatly help out one of Montrose's "sister cities," whose local law enforcement is currently faced with a "critical shortage of police officers."
Under the terms of the IGA, Lillard will remain an employee of the City of Montrose; he will split his time between Ouray and Montrose, and the City of Ouray will reimburse the City of Montrose for the time he spends on the job here. Chinn said Lillard will spend about three days a week in Ouray which is estimated to last about 10-12 weeks.
"When Gene gets back we're going to dump a dump truck on his desk," Chinn said.
Council also voted 5-0 to approve resolution 2013-09 stating the Gunnison Sage Grouse is "stable, growing, healthy" and likely to persist in the long term and that the United States Fish and Wildlife Service "has failed to establish that the Gunnison Basin population is facing material or imminent threats."
The resolution states that decisions of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service "will impact the citizens, and social, economic and environmental fabric and the future of the Montrose community."
"The Gunnison Sage Grouse is not a threatened species and the population is best protected by local efforts and the Fish and Wildlife Service should not list is as such under the Endangered Species Act," council member Carol McDermott read before the council voted.