If the “Golden State” of California has taught us anything, it is that there is no surer way to covertly infringe upon the Second Amendment than to grant county sheriffs discretionary authority over it. We have witnessed a legal and constitutional minefield laid out to ensnare law-abiding gun owners in CA over the years, from the lack of preemption laws, to the ominous “may issue” policy on CCW/CFP.
Here in Colorado, we are technically considered a “shall issue” state. However, the state has punted the responsibility of issuing CCW/CFP permits on to the county sheriffs. While the sheriffs are required to issue the permit to a person that is not legally prohibited, CO state CCW laws give them some discretion regarding issuing a permit to someone that demonstrates a present or past danger to themselves. Unfortunately, this is vaguely defined in the law, and has been used in the past to deny permits to people who did not have a prohibiting criminal record.
Furthermore, giving sheriffs the discretionary authority over a civil right means that the right can live or die with the next election cycle; clearly not the intent of our founders. We can plainly see in the attached letter from Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith some prime examples of why granting sheriffs this authority is always a bad idea.
Here are some of the red flags that Larimer County residents and voters should be aware of when Sheriff Smith is up for reelection:
- “I give any Colorado peace officer the authority to confiscate your permit…” – Sheriff Smith continues to state that all they need is “reasonable suspicion” to do so, not actual evidence of a crime, not an arrest, and of course not anything resembling an actual conviction under due process of law. Simple suspicion is the low bar that Sheriff Smith requires for the revocation of your civil rights.
- “… that you no longer qualify under the guidelines established by my policy” – Sheriff Smith seems to believe that even in a “shall issue” state that has preemption laws for firearms, he can still custom tailor his own personal policy as to who gets to exercise their civil rights and who doesn’t. Sadly, considering the poor way in which the law was written, he may be correct [legally speaking].
- “I reserve the right to revoke or suspend your permit” – Sheriff Smith again asserts his own personal authority and “right” over the established statewide standards and over the US Constitution by warning [threatening] that he can ax your rights with the stroke of his pen.
- My personal favorite, “this permit is a privilege being extended to you“. Is it even possible to be a bigger anti-Constitution, anti-freedom and anti-self-defense cliche than that Sheriff Smith? Thank you kind Sheriff for gracing me with the “privilege” of defending myself and my family in public! I grovel at your feet. Of course, we can also thank the CO State Legislature for specifically excluding concealed carry from the list of rights in the state constitution [Article II, § 13]. Again, the sheriff is probably correct[legally speaking] and the law was again, very poorly written.
As you can see through his ample use of words like “I” and “my”, Sheriff Smith is a real ‘man of the people’, and would never fundamentally believe that his authority trumps your civil rights [sarc]. Unfortunately, this is just one of hundreds of similar examples of county sheriffs making terrible stewards of civil rights. The whole point of the US Constitution is to keep people like him in check. Law enforcement was never intended to be the gate keeper for granting and managing civil rights.
Imagine for a moment if it were any other civil right [besides the 2nd Amendment] being managed [mangled] by county sheriffs. The radical leftists would literally be forming lynch mobs, burning cities and putting bounty’s on the sheriffs’ heads. However, the left continue to remain supportive of sheriffs managing CCW’s because they know that the inevitable gross mismanagement and broad over-reach of authority is aiding in their destruction of the RKBA.