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Sheriff Maketa believes support is waning on new gun laws

El Paso County Sheriff Critical Of New Gun Laws

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The top law officer in El Paso County believes the tide is turning on gun reform measures as more people see the actual laws set take effect July 1.

"I think the public education part of it is starting to sway the voters to where it's not an even split now," said Sheriff Terry Maketa. "I think there are a lot of people that are really beginning to question it and that's what I'm hearing from citizens."

Earlier this year, Colorado lawmakers approved two new gun control laws. One would limit the number of bullets that can be loaded through ammo magazines. By mid-summer, it will be illegal to purchase a magazine with more than 15 bullets in the state. The second law would expand background checks for all gun purchases and most transfers of ownership.

This week, the president of the United States visited Colorado to praise the work ahead of critical votes next week in the U.S. Congress on gun control measures.

"Everyday we wait to do something about it, even more of our fellow citizens are stolen from our lives by bullets from a gun," said Barack Obama. "Colorado already chose to do something about it."

Maketa doesn't believe the new laws will make the public any safer, though.

"I would venture to guess that eight out of 10 violations are going to be innocent violations by law-abiding citizens with no criminal intent -- it's going to be mere activity that they didn't realize was against the law," said Maketa.

On the expanded background checks law, Maketa criticizes lawmakers for making it a crime for people to use their good friends' weapons.

"Where this one really becomes overreaching is it defines a transfer simply as me loaning a weapon to a neighbor who has been a personal friend for 30 years," said Maketa. "I can't loan it up to him for more than 72 hours without a background  check."

Maketa believes the same restrictions apply to house guests who may need to use a weapon in the house for protection.

Maketa said if the law limited the required background check to sales or transfers of ownership between strangers it would be a more effective law.

The sheriff also disagrees with the limited magazine law. He believes it is unenforceable.

"There really isn't any enforcement until after another crime has occurred or it has been brought to the attention of law  enforcement -- which is usually through the action of another crime," said Maketa.

Maketa believes it's nearly impossible for the magazine limit law to be a preventive tool for law enforcement.

"A law enforcement official cannot look at these and determine, number one, when were they manufactured and, number two, you would have no probable cause or reasonable  suspicion to question me about when I purchased the high capacity ammo if I'm doing nothing wrong," said Maketa.

Maketa's words on gun reform have been taken out of context in the past. In March, he led a town hall meeting on gun laws working their way through the legislature. Several national and local media outlets reported that he would not obey new gun laws that were passed, something that was inaccurate.

"The representation that I said I would not enforce any of them is simply not true," said Maketa.

He believes those media outlets have purposely misused his comments to make him look uncredible on the issue of gun reform.

"We have laws today I don't agree with but we enforce them with the same diligence to represent victims as we would any other law, and I expect my deputies to do that," said Maketa.

Maketa hopes lawmakers revisit these two gun issues or a lawsuit is filed to block what's already been passed.

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