A proposal that's off target?

Sheriff, others concerned over proposed gun laws

Keywords: Poll question,
Shooters World owner Ken Banks doesn’t agree with the new gun legislation proposed by President Obama. Enlargephoto

Michael Maresh/Cortez Journal file photo

Shooters World owner Ken Banks doesn’t agree with the new gun legislation proposed by President Obama.

Montezuma County Sheriff Dennis Spruell's views on gun control and proposed new laws relating to this matter mirror what other numerous law enforcement agencies across the country are saying.

President Barack Obama's comprehensive plan to address gun violence that was based on the recommendations from a task force led by Vice President Joe Biden, calls for legislation to ban some assault weapons as well as a variety of executive actions.

Obama's plan has come under fire since the president unveiled it on Wednesday afternoon.

Spruell rarely minces words and made his stance on the issue very clear.

"I am a strong believer in the Second Amendment, and I believe people have a right to bear arms," Spruell said on Thursday. "It's a mental problem, a mental health issue. It is not a gun issue."

Spruell, speaking from his perspective, said there are enough laws on the books now that deal with gun crime.

"We have the right to carry arms," the sheriff said. "We have enough laws, and I am opposed to creating (new ones)."

Cities, counties and states across the nation are attempting to create legislation to make it a felony for the federal government to come in to try to confiscate certain types of firearms. However, a University of Denver law professor said federal law trumps state law.

Cortez gun business owners also are disappointed with what was included in the president's proposal.

They agreed with Spruell that the plan does not address the real problem of keeping firearms away from "crazy" people.

Ken Banks, owner of Shooter's World, said nothing in the proposal made much sense or addressed the real problem.

"He is just talking words. He is not addressing the problem of insane people having guns," he said.

Banks also questioned why the government calls insane people mentally challenged because insane is the proper word.

"You have to take the guns out of the hands of the crazy people," he said adding the new proposed laws are aimed at the people who are already obeying the law to the fullest.

Larry Chandler, owner of Summit Shooting Center, had a similar view.

"We all know that this does not solve anything," he said. "This will not solve any problems whatsoever."

He also said more gun laws will not reduce crime, and pointed to Chicago's high gun-related crime rate despite the fact that city has some of the toughest gun laws on the books.

"Guns don't kill people, people kill people," he said. "This is ridiculous that this man, the so-called president, is doing this."

He said the proposed law and any possible future laws could result in his business closing someday.

"It's just going to make it hard on the citizens (who want to have firearms)," he said.

Chandler also thinks criminals are not going to submit to any new stringent measures to get guns and will instead get them in a different, and often illegal way, so any new regulations will not affect the people who should not be allowed to own a firearm.

Included in the proposal is to have more federally funded school resource officers stationed at schools. Montezuma-Cortez School District Re-1 Superintendent Alex Carter said he would support such a measure to have an officer at every school in the district - if funding was indeed provided to pay those salaries.

"We have two excellent school resource officers assigned to Montezuma-Cortez School District Re-1," Carter said via email.

Vern Rucker works mainly with the elementary schools and is the lead on the D.A.R.E. program district-wide, and Buck Woodman works mostly with the secondary schools.

"They are great partners with our schools and we value their participation in our program hugely," Carter said. "They are both members of our district safety team and provide great insights and support for the development and improvement of our district Emergency Operations Plans."

That being said, Carter said if someone offered to give the school district more support in the form of funding for additional school resource officers, he would welcome it. "I would jump at the opportunity," Carter wrote in the email. "In my opinion, there is nothing that makes our schools more safe and secure than having on-duty uniformed officers present. I would love to have one stationed at every school."

michaelm@cortezjournal.com