Tracy Winder: What you missed at tea party meeting
February 15, 2013
To the editor:
With gun control topics dominating national and Colorado news, nearly 200 people filled the Shadow Mountain Village Meeting Hall last Thursday to hear Moffat County residents speak about Second Amendment issues.
The meeting's sponsor, Bears Ears Tea Party Patriots, hosted a public business meeting before the main event, and Chairman Matt Winey announced that the local tea party chapter is now an official 501(c)4 nonprofit organization. Plans for membership and annual dues or contributions will be finalized in the near future.
County Commissioner John Kinkaid announced his appointment to a steering committee on Energy, Environment and Land Use as part of the National Association of Counties. He will travel to Washington, D.C., in March to meet with Colorado's legislators.
Les Hampton, a former county commissioner, provided handouts and spoke briefly about a recent gun-rights meeting in Steamboat Springs that focused on effective communication with lawmakers. Hampton stressed the use of short, prepared scripts when engaging legislators or aides in direct conversations, and key points to remember when mailing written letters. To stay informed, he suggested contacting Ken Constantine at Elk River Guns, who works closely with state Sen. Randy Baumgardner.
The evening's keynote speaker was Moffat County Sheriff Tim Jantz, who began his speech by explaining that he has received many questions concerning passage in January of a "Resolution in Defense of 2nd Amendment Rights" by the El Paso County Commissioners. Jantz made it clear that while he has no problem with county resolutions, he generally thinks they should have a singular focus and not be as generalized as the El Paso document.
Jantz wanted residents to know where he stands on gun issues currently under heated discussion in our state, and he provided copies of a County Sheriffs of Colorado position paper on possible gun control legislation, a document generated by participating sheriffs at the CSOC meeting in January. The CSOC voted to table all gun control bills for at least a year and to oppose any bans on so-called "assault weapons," any ban on private firearm sales, any state gun registration attempts, any statewide concealed carry permit databases, any high-capacity magazine bans, and any limitations on purchasing ammunition in large quantities.
Jantz declared that anti-gun legislation is likely to pass the Colorado House and Senate in 2013. Likewise, on the national front, Jantz expects attempts by Congress to make small, creeping infringements on gun owners.
The crowd responded with a standing ovation when Jantz announced he will not enforce any kind of federal firearms bans.
Questions from the audience included whether Jantz would enforce new Colorado gun-control laws; whether he would release the names of concealed carry permit holders; whether he thought teachers should carry concealed weapons; whether interested teachers could be deputized and trained to carry weapons in schools; and whether the "gun-free" policy at The Memorial Hospital was county policy.
Jantz ended by emphasizing that emotions are running high, and people must exercise rational, reasonable approaches during discussions to positively influence those having no definitive opinion.