EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado - Eagle County Sheriff Joe Hoy is unequivocal about the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: "I believe in the Second Amendment - it's a right," he said.
That puts Hoy in the company of the County Sheriffs of Colorado, which recently issued a "Position Paper on Possible Gun Control Legislation."
The document issued by the group sends a clear message, at the top of the paper's first page: "The Second Amendment is not a guideline but rather a right." That means the group opposes recently proposed gun control legislation at both the state and national levels.
Hoy acknowledged that he and his fellow sheriffs have exchanged "plenty of e-mails" on all sides of the gun control issue, since opinions vary. Still, the group voted in favor of its public stance at a January meeting.
"But as a group, we all agree there needs to be a real concentration of effort on finding solutions that are going to work."
Banning weapons or other possible laws won't get that done," he said.
"It's an emotional issue," Hoy said. "But I think everybody needs to step back and look at the underlying causes" of mass shootings, he said, adding that "guns are the tip of the iceberg" of those causes.
Hoy said there's a practical reason for the state group's opposition to current legislative proposals.
"I don't know how (new laws) would work," Hoy said. "Who's going to collect, or manage or administer them?" Without state or federal funding, Hoy said he and other sheriff's departments don't have the funding or manpower to enforce those new laws.
Ultimately, Hoy said, "In my mind, (the proposed laws) are punishing almost everyone who's a legitimate owner of a weapon."