COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - A video has been released in which Governor John Hickenlooper seems to apologize to county sheriffs for not talking to them before signing controversial gun laws.
The video was posted by an organization called Revealing Politics on its YouTube channel.
The recording appears to be from Hickenlooper's address to sheriffs during a conference held in Aspen last week.
In March 2013, Hickenlooper signed three controversial gun bills into law. The laws limited the size of ammunition magazines to 15 rounds, and required new background checks for firearms sold online and between private sellers.
Since then, gun rights groups have sued to overturn those laws. A group of 55 sheriffs is backing them up, including El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa.
At the beginning of the YouTube recording, a sheriff asks the governor why he he didn't listen to sheriff's before signing the bills into law.
"(We) certainly could have done a better job. I think that the -- I didn't, and this is, I'm not defending this, there is no, I didn't find out the Sheriffs were trying to talk to me until a week afterwards," said Hickenlooper.
He touches on communication with the sheriffs again seven minutes into the video.
"I apologize. I don't think we did a good job on any of that stuff. And we have worked very hard since then to open those doors of communication," said Hickenlooper.
Hickenlooper told the sheriffs in the audience that he didn't know the limit on high capacity magazines would be so polarizing. He also said it was someone on his staff that had made the commitment to sign the legislation.
"I think a lot of people, if they had known how much commotion was going to come out of the high capacity magazine probably would have looked for something different, different approach," said Hickenlooper. "One of my staff made a commitment that we would sign it if it had gotten passed. To be honest, no one in our office thought it would get passed, it would get through the legislature."
After last week's conference, the Montezuma County Sheriff posted on Facebook that Hickenlooper admitted to supporting the gun laws without researching them.
KRDO NewsChannel 13 contacted Governor's Office Spokesperson Eric Brown. He said the Montezuma County Sheriff took Hickenlooper's comments out of context.
"This particular sheriff is suing the governor. His post isn't entirely accurate, nor would I expect him to treat the governor fairly. Just because he posts something on Facebook doesn't make it true," said Brown. "For starters, the governor (and staff) researched plenty about guns before the legislation was signed."
Brown also commented on KRDO NewsChannel 13's coverage of the story.
"It's too bad that your standards for verifying and reporting facts (not just regurgitating what a partisan sheriff posts on Facebook) are so low," said Brown by email.
While Brown said there was 'plenty' of research done before the legislation was signed, Hickenlooper said in the YouTube video that he did not see the "basic facts" until the bills were signed into law.
"We were forming legislation without the basic facts, which I think is a bad idea in every case. It took almost a month to get the facts. By that time, I had already pissed you guys (sheriffs) off. I'd, you know, they had passed legislation," said Hickenlooper.
Hickenlooper said once he received the facts, they showed the gun laws improved public safety. He said high capacity magazine posed a threat to law enforcement. He said he was presented with facts that stated that police officers were frequently killed by gunmen with high capacity magazines.
He also pointed to statistics that showed universal background checks prevented criminals from getting their hands on guns.
KRDO NewsChannel 13 contacted Brown again Wednesday for a response to the YouTube video. He said his comments made on the subject last week have not changed.