On the heels of Gov. John Hickenlooper signing two monumental gun-control laws Wednesday, Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo said he agrees with the measures.
That stance puts him in the minority of Colorado’s sheriffs, most of whom are against any type of restrictions on gun ownership, he said, citing a meeting he attended a few months ago of the state’s top cops.
The bills passed by the Legislature require background checks for private and online gun sales and ban ammunition magazines that hold more than 15 rounds.
At the state sheriff’s meeting, DiSalvo said he shared the sentiment of protecting the Second Amendment when the gun-control issue was discussed.
“We never want to infringe on anybody’s right to bear arms and to protect themselves,” he said. “But I also go to the level of how much is too much? How much is reasonable or what does somebody need?”
DiSalvo questioned why a person would need a weapon that “shoots a hundred rounds in less than five seconds” and said such guns should only be in the hands of the military and law enforcement.
“I don’t think people should fear that they’re not going to be able to have handguns anymore. There’s been no talk of that,” he said. “But when you have a Glock with a 30-plus-round magazine, I don’t really see that for self-protection.”
The new laws take effect July 1, and exempt high-capacity magazines acquired before that date. DiSalvo said his deputies won’t be automatically seizing magazines that carry more than 15 rounds, and that it would be discretionary and handled on a case-by-case basis.
Still, he applauded the new laws’ focus on background checks at gun shows, though he questioned how such verification for private sales will be handled. On that issue, he agreed with other sheriffs in Colorado who have said private sales will be impossible to monitor.
“I don’t see how that could possibly be managed,” he said. “I don’t think that’s enforceable.”
Other Colorado sheriffs have questioned the laws, and Weld County Sheriff John Cooke pledged this week that he would not enforce them.
While DiSalvo and other lawmen all agreed on the Second Amendment’s importance at the recent meeting, “we also unanimously agreed that we don’t want guns in the hands of people with mental-health issues,” DiSalvo said.
The laws, sparked by the shootings at an Aurora movie theater and in Newtown, Conn., are a prudent move, he said.
“I firmly believe that I don’t know what the answer is, but we have to take some kind of step in the right direction to stop mass violence,” he said. “I don’t care if it’s with a gun, a knife, a bomb, whatever it is, we have to do something to protect ourselves from ourselves.”