Democratic Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who has referred to rural residents of his state as “backwards thinking” and that they would have to suffer some “inconvenience” over gun control has been told by a federal judge he will not have to be questioned over his role in passage of the bills.
Lawmakers who passed a series of stringent anti-gun bills during the last legislative session have faced the wrath of voters in two recall elections, with a third possibly on the way. Since the legislation was signed into law, Hickenlooper’s approval ratings have cratered in the state.
The gun control laws are the subject of a lawsuit by the vast majority of the state’s sheriffs as well as others who have argued the laws are unconstitutional and also violate provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act over its magazine restrictions and provisions requiring a person undergo a background check when a gun is “transferred” which is broadly defined as applying to a disabled person handing their firearm to someone to assist them climbing a fence or getting out of their vehicle.
As part of the case attorneys wanted to question over multiple statements he has made over the new gun laws.
However, Hickenlooper’s attorneys argued that “the governor’s reasons for signing the legislation in question are irrelevant.”
The governor even issued a veiled threat that if he were required to testify, his attorneys would call the plaintiffs’ attorney, David Kopel, to testify as a witness in the case, arguing he was involved in “lobbying efforts.”
U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael J. Watanabe agreed with Hickenlooper, ruling that the plaintiffs would not be allowed to take a deposition from him.
“His personal thoughts, opinions and beliefs, including a post-enactment statement, have no bearing on the ultimate questions of law on whether the challenged legislation … meets constitutional standards,” the magistrate said.
Gov. John Hickenlooper also has gone on record as expressing disdain for rural Coloradans in his state. During his 2010 campaign for governor against WND columnist and former congressman Tom Tancredo, he accused rural citizens of having “backwards thinking” when it comes to traditional values.
“I think a couple things, I mean, you know, the tragic death of Matthew Shepard occurred in Wyoming. Colorado and Wyoming are very similar,” Hickenlooper said. “We have some of the same, you know, backwards thinking in the kind of rural Western areas you see in, you know, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico… at the same time, Denver has, I think, one of the more robust, politically active gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgendered communities, really, in the United States.”
After this year’s attacks on constitutional rights and rural lifestyles, Hickenlooper essentially said rural residents just need to get over it and change their lifestyle.
“This is an urban issue which is going to require some inconvenience from rural people. They’re going to have to change their clip more often if they’re shooting varmints or if they’re at a shooting facility,” the governor said during an appearance on the Mike Rosen Show.
The anti-gun laws were part of a flurry of bills that are strongly supported by left-wing groups, including abortion, civil unions and other legislation.
Among the anti-gun laws mentioned in the lawsuit is one that limits any magazine greater than 15 rounds, or that can be modified to hold greater than 15 rounds illegal to purchase in the state.
However, nearly all magazines have a removable plate that can be removed to expand the magazine’s capacity, thus effectively banning the sale of all magazines in the state.
The law also prohibits a person from transferring one of these illegal magazines. While existing owners of magazines are grandfathered in, they are only covered as long as they “maintain continuous possession” of the magazine.
Following passage of the laws, all of the state’ elected sheriffs came out in opposition to the laws, saying they were unconstitutional and unenforceable. In Weld County, one the state’s largest counties, Sheriff John Cooke announced he was instructing his deputies not to enforce the laws.
“Part of the problem is unless a person admits they purchased the magazine in the state illegally after the ban went into effect, we have now way of knowing if he broke the law or not,” Cooke said. “Even if the magazine was manufactured after the law took effect or a person purchased a gun through a private sale without a background check, all they would have to do is go to Wyoming to complete the sale and it would be perfectly legal. We would have no way of knowing where the sale took place.”
While the bill was being debated in the legislature the sheriff’s went down to testify about problems with the proposed laws, but Democrats prohibited most of them from speaking, only allowing one sheriff to testify about each bill.
Cooke, who is the lead plaintiff in the case, along with the other sheriffs have argued that based on the plain working in the legislation if anyone were to give their magazine to a gunsmith for repair or asks for help clearing a jam on the rifle range would now be violating the law.
The laws were passed despite widespread opposition by residents of the state after Vice President Joe Biden flew in to use strong-arm tactics to encourage Democratic lawmakers to vote for the bills. Biden reportedly reassured Democratic lawmakers that the administration had their back and would ensure they had plenty of money to defend their seat during the 2014 elections.
“He (Biden) said it would send a strong message to the rest of the country that a Western state had passed gun-control bills,” Colorado Springs Democratic lawmaker Tony Exhum told the Denver Post.
However, the reassurances did little good to a pair of Democratic state senators who lost their seats in Colorado’s first ever recall election.