Over the next two weeks, citizens of Colorado will begin receiving ballots for our 2014 elections. We understand that you have your own thoughts and values, and we’re not about to sing the praises of some savior for whom you should vote. We also understand that many of you will think, “Why bother?” and ignore the whole process in disgust. Believe us when we say that we completely get that. But what you do with those simple slips of paper has the power to shape what our state will become and we’d like to remind you of what apathy can cost us.
We hope you’ll remember how, in 2013, the Democrats of the Colorado legislature ignored their constituents and allowed New York lobbyists to craft their gun control bills. We hope you’ll remember that our current governor, John Hickenlooper, repeatedly solicited input (despite later denying it – and then denying he denied it) from New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg before signing those unenforceable, deeply offensive and fundamentally non-Coloradan bills into law. And we hope you’ll remember that in a Rolling Stone interview just a few months ago, Mayor Bloomberg dismissively bragged about his influence in affecting Colorado law – as though the borders of New York City extended to our state and that his will carried more weight than that of “backward-thinking rural folks.”
It was with these thoughts in mind that we decided to publish an article contributed by one of our members, herself a former resident of New York City, in place of our regular Letter from the Board. The author grew up in the world that Mike Bloomberg, John Hickenlooper and the Democrats responsible for the 2013 gun laws think Colorado should strive to be. Keep it in mind as you contemplate whether those ballots are worth returning – and what can happen if we don’t push back against those who have already proven their contempt for our rights and Colorado culture.
The Board of Directors
Colorado Second Amendment Association
Liberty. Freedom. The right to keep and bear arms. The right to defend yourself and your family. These things are not just for the elite, the rich, the famous or the politicians.
I grew up in The Bronx during the 1970’s and 1980’s. It was a time of high crime and citizens were not allowed to own anything to protect themselves. Something as simple as mace or pepper spray was confiscated by the authorities. We were left defenseless.
As a young girl I attended a private all-girl high school as it was safer then attending a co-ed or public school. My school thought it was prudent to have a New York City police officer come in for one day to teach us a basic self-defense class. The officer brought in was older and somewhat out of shape but I remember being excited to learn how I could protect myself if I was ever attacked. The officer showed us some basic jabs, punches, kicks and rolls. As the class was ending, the officer’s wise advice to a room full of 13 to 17 year old girls was if an attacker ever got us to the ground and was now on top of us….stop fighting back! It would only make things worse. We should allow this criminal to do whatever they wanted to do and “hope” we were allowed to live. I felt as if I was punched in the gut. My first thought was “WHAT?” Followed quickly by, “HELL NO!” I’d rather die trying to protect myself than hope someone would let me live after doing God knows what to me. At that moment I made the decision that I would never stop fighting back. I wanted a better life for myself and my future children.
As a young adult, I moved with my husband from New York City to Colorado, undoubtedly the smartest move we’ve ever made. We quickly embraced the lifestyle and thought of Colorado as our home. My husband had always been a gun enthusiast and was now free to own most anything he wanted to try. He wanted to share this part of his life with me. The only problem…I was terrified of guns. Now I don’t mean that I thought they were “icky” or “bad.” When I say “terrified,” I mean I would freeze up in the mere presence of them. My husband purchased our first firearm, a Smith and Wesson .22 semi-automatic handgun. Over time, he slowly and patiently introduced me to the gun. He stripped it down and taught me the name and purpose of each part. He showed me how all the parts fit together and how to properly hold the unloaded pistol. Eventually I was ready to fire it for the first time. We visited a local range where I fired my first shot, then another and another. I began to realize my fear no longer paralyzed me and that I was actually enjoying myself. We became regulars at the range and I even started accompanying my husband to gun stores. Over the years I have fired and owned a variety of pistols, rifles and shotguns and my fear had turned into a healthy respect and appreciation.
Shortly after I became pregnant with our first child, we needed to have the “safety” talk. After all, we would now have a child in the house with loaded firearms. Thankfully we were on the same page and it was a brief and productive conversation. Our children would be taught properly how to respect firearms. They would learn how firearms can be used with both positive and negative outcomes. They would be shooters but would also know the damage caused if firearms were used with carelessness or ill intent. I am now the mother of two young children and happy to say they are both shooters. We repeatedly teach our children that they have the right to protect themselves and have many tools to do so, including their voices, bodies and firearms. I know that no matter what, both my daughter and son will have the skills necessary to protect themselves.
Having moved from New York to Colorado, I allowed myself to become a little too comfortable and complacent. I never paid close attention to politics. That caught up to me in 2013 when our Colorado General Assembly jammed through legislation limiting our second amendment rights. Our elected officials decided to ignore their constituents – both citizens and law enforcement – who overwhelmingly testified against the proposed laws. Instead of doing what was right for the state of Colorado, legislators over reached and limited our ability to protect ourselves. The Democrat-held House and Senate passed legislation in line with their party platform and the agenda of New York City’s then-mayor Michael Bloomberg. Democratic Governor Hickenlooper immediately signed them into law. They wanted to make our beautiful state of Colorado into the place my husband and I had left over 20 years prior. The citizens of Colorado were powerless to stop our elected officials from passing these useless and intrusive laws. As these terrible laws were being quickly forced through the system, the University of Colorado updated their Department of Public Safety website for female victims of sexual assault with tips that included, “tell your attacker that you have a disease or are menstruating,” and “vomiting or urinating may also convince the attacker to leave you alone.” I had instant flashbacks to the police officer from my high school basic defense class.
Thankfully, there are those who have not rested and are fighting back. Our Colorado sheriffs continue to speak out and fight the laws. My children watched their father along with a handful of other men stand up and say “NO.” They watched as these men worked tirelessly to successfully recall Senators John Morse and Angela Giron for blatantly ignoring their constituents.
But the politicians have not learned anything from the recalls; they continue to ignore their constituents and former Mayor Bloomberg recently went so far as to gloat in a Rolling Stone article that, “In Colorado, we got a law passed.” We must stand up against those who wish to restrict our rights, to limit our choices and to silence our voices. We as citizens must never become complacent as those who wish to restrict our constitutional rights will NEVER stop.