Lieutenant Governor Joe Rogers Speaks at Pro Second Amendment Dinner
by Ari Armstrong, April 1999
Joe Rogers, Colorado's new Lieutenant Governor under Bill Owens, spoke at the Pro Second Amendment Committee's Ninth Annual Awards Banquet March 13 in Grand Junction. The Committee presented awards to the winners of its annual essay contest for K-12 students in Colorado.
The Pro Second Amendment Committee, hailed as "the most effective gun group in Colorado" by Ed Cole of the Firearms Coalition, is also involved with training hundreds of people a year in the use of firearms. The emphasis of the organization is education. As the group's president Ram Dhan Khalsa put it, if people are familiar with guns and know how to use them effectively and safely, they will be more likely to support pro-freedom gun legislation.
As the banquet opened with the Pledge of Allegiance and the Star Spangled Banner I got a little teary eyed. It's not that I'm unduly patriotic-- that bit in the Pledge about the "indivisibility" of the republic is an affront to the right of secession -- it's that I started thinking about the lost potential of our nation. How did we get from "we hold these truths" to a 50% tax rate? From George Washington to Bill Clinton? The gun movement is bound up with the general freedom movement. While some who long for greater personal liberty are at times reactionary, most are usually progressive, wanting to infuse a more advanced future with the libertarian ideals that began forming with our nation's inception.
Congressman Scott McGuinnes handed out the awards to the students who had won the contest. He joked, "That's what politicians do -- hand out other people's money." While I didn't find the joke very funny, the mere fact that the politician attended the event says something, as my dad Linn Armstrong reminded me.
I didn't hear much about Rogers during the gubernatorial race, so I was interested to hear what he had to say. My dad, when introducing Rogers, reminded us that the first gun control laws were passed specifically to disarm black people.
Rogers began by recounting how he had challenged Pat Schroeder for Congress. As a boy, Rogers had visited Schroeder's office. Schroeder told him that he had special qualities that destined him for a life in politics. Rogers, Schroeder predicted, would one day take over the seat Schroeder herself held. When Rogers reminded her of the prediction during their race, she said, "I tell that to all the children who come into my office." I suppose any humorous story told at Schroeder's expense is a good icebreaker for a pro-freedom crowd.
Rogers proceeded to the "I'm with Owens" portion of his speech by detailing Colorado's recent growth and projected growth. "If there's one thing government must do, it's to provide an adequate infrastructure," Rogers said. Lucky for us that we elected Bill Owens as governor. I guess that's the Lieutenant Governor's job -- take the gospel to all the events the head man doesn't have time to attend. Rogers seems content in his role of trusty side-kick in the "Bond Man and Rogers" dynamic paving duo.
I was beginning to think Rogers mixed up his notes or forgot he was keynoting a pro-gun function. But he finally did get around to discussing guns. As a child, Rogers and his family had gone to visit an aunt. They found her in her home with stabbing wounds, and she was fortunate to survive the attack. "If my aunt had been able to hold a gun, she would have been saved," Rogers said.
The "fundamental root" of our right to bear arms, said Rogers, is that guns secure our ability to protect ourselves. "We have to do right by Colorado families and advance the interest of securing Second Amendment rights," he said. Rogers also said that his wife may sign up for a gun safety course, as he has received the threats common to people in high political office.
Beyond affirming his support of a concealed carry bill, which Owens also supports, Rogers didn't specify his views on particular gun issues. His talk was tepid, perfect for a social club of moderates, but not up to the level of sophistication the crowd likely would have appreciated.
The good thing about Roger's style of presentation is that he comes across as a very nice guy. He couches his beliefs in terms of how they will "benefit the children," an old political cliché but one that plays well on television. A local station played a pleasant interview with Rogers. Thus, Rogers is a perfect representative to the ideologically void masses with whom emotional appeals work.
Rogers isn't all mashed peas, though: The Rocky Mountain News noted that he recently told a black audience that 70% of black children don't have active fathers and 97% of slain blacks are killed by other blacks (March 21). And Rogers wants to help change that. So he does have his missions.
Rogers comes across as wholly decent. Indeed, his main political weakness may be that he's too nice and too decent. That doesn't seem to be the vogue in contemporary politics. But, even though his address at the banquet was anything but rousing, and much too status quo for my tastes, Rogers is a fine person to have pulling for some of our issues.