Gun-control votes came after much input, study

We voted on the gun-control bills Monday, which now return to the House. If they were amended in the Senate or if unamended, they now go to Gov. John Hickenlooper for his consideration. For those who still want to make their views known before the bills are signed into law, you should contact your state representative and governor.

I voted against all of them except the bill requiring some portion of training for a concealed-carry weapon permit be taken in person, rather than solely online. I have eight sheriffs in my district, and after talking with all but one, I felt that this bill has some merit. The Democratic bill sponsor of that particular measure repeatedly stated that she didnít view her bill as being part of any package as she, too, didnít support the House gun-control bills.

The gun-control bill package put forth in the last week will, in the words of the sheriffs, do nothing to improve public safety and are, practically speaking, unenforceable. That didnít prevent them from passing.

Any proposed bill that affects a constitutional right such as the right to keep and bear arms must be taken very seriously. We vote on more than 600 bills a year, and only a few are particularly memorable. These bills will affect residentsí basic constitutional rights, and I was grateful to have heard from so many of you, as itís very important that you have followed what has occurred at the Capitol.

Especially because I urged people at the Durango and Cortez town-hall meetings to come to the Capitol to testify on the gun-control bills, I must apologize to those who traveled to Denver a week ago to do just that but were denied that opportunity because of arbitrary limitations imposed by the Senate Democratic leadership. Quite frankly, that was shameful.

In seven years at the Capitol, Iíve never seen residents denied the right to testify and made to choose between competing hearings on the same topic. That competing scheduling was not an accidental oversight; it was deliberate. Iím sorry and discouraged that was the unjust treatment residents received, and it understandably contributes to the cynicism and distrust that people have in their elected officials.

In arriving at my votes cast on your behalf, I strongly considered the input from my district. The constituent input was striking in quantity and content.

More than 92 percent of those in touch with me opposed the bills, and we heard from well more than 500 constituents. I did my best to relate your reasons and personal stories to the rest of the senators, especially those who are unfamiliar with the rural and remote areas of the state.

However, I didnít stop with sticking my finger in the air to see which way the wind blows in my district. I studied data, (often conflicting), read relevant court decisions, attended debates, sat in on committee hearings to hear testimony and talked with those most knowledgeable as to the practical effects of implementing the bills if passed.

All this led me to the votes, I made on your behalf. Thereís no pleasing everyone, but I stand by my votes, and, again, I thank all of you who took the time to be in touch.

Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, represents the Sixth District, which includes Durango, in the Colorado Senate. Contact her at the Capitol, (303) 866-2914 or by fax (303)-866-2218; at home (970) 564-0999 or by fax (970) 564-9236; or eroberts@frontier.net.