A shameful denial of the right to speak


We voted on the gun control bills on Monday and the bills now go back to the House, if they were amended in the Senate or, if unamended, they now go to the governor for his consideration.

For those who still want to make their views known before the bills are signed into law, you should contact your state representative and the governor.

I voted against all of them except the bill requiring some portion of training for a concealed carry weapon permit be taken in person, rather than solely online.

I have eight sheriffs in my district and, after talking with all but one, I felt that this bill has some merit. The Democratic bill sponsor of that particular bill repeatedly stated that she didn’t view her bill as being part of any package as she, too, didn’t support the House gun control bills.

The gun control bill package put forth in the past week, in the words of the sheriffs, does nothing to improve public safety and is, practically speaking, unenforceable. That didn’t prevent them from passing.

Any proposed bill that affects a constitutional right such as the right to keep and bear arms must be taken very seriously. We vote on over 600 bills a year and only a few are particularly memorable. These bills will impact citizens’ basic constitutional rights and I was grateful to have heard from so many of you, as it’s very important that you have followed what has gone on at the Capitol.

Especially since I urged people at the Durango and Cortez town hall meetings to come to the Capitol to testify on the gun control bills, I must apologize to those of you who traveled to Denver a week ago to do just that, but were denied that opportunity due to arbitrary limitations imposed by the Senate Democratic leadership. Quite frankly, that was shameful.

In seven years at the Capitol, I’ve never seen citizens denied the right to testify and made to choose between competing hearings on the same topic. That competing scheduling was not an accidental oversight, it was deliberate; I’m sorry and discouraged by the unjust treatment citizens received and it understandably contributes to the cynicism and distrust that people have in their elected officials.

In arriving at my votes cast on your behalf, I strongly considered the input from my district. The constituent input was striking both in quantity and content. Over 92 percent of those in touch with me opposed the bills and we heard from well over 500 constituents. I did my best to relate your reasons and personal stories to the rest of the senators, especially those who are unfamiliar with the rural and remote areas of the state.

However, I didn’t stop with sticking my finger in the air to see which way the wind blows in my district. I studied data (often conflicting), read relevant court decisions, attended debates, sat in on committee hearings to hear testimony and talked with those most knowledgeable as to the practical impacts of implementing the bills if passed. All of this led me to the votes I made on your behalf. There’s no pleasing everyone, but I stand by my votes and, again, I thank all of you who took the time to be in touch.