Colorado Teens Support Gun Rights

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Colorado Teens Support Gun Rights

by Ari Armstrong, September 1999

In mid-July, the anti-gun lobby organization SAFE sent around 90 teenagers to Washington, D.C. at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars. (SAFE stands for Sane Alternatives to the Firearms Epidemic, as if owning guns were some kind of disease.) The stunt did what it was intended to do: grab state and national headlines in support of more gun control laws.

The leaders of SAFE chose to use children for their campaign because youth are more sympathetic and harder to criticize. But the leaders of SAFE should have realized that thousands of teens in Colorado are reasonably well-educated about civil liberties and fully supportive of gun ownership. At least hundreds of teenagers state-wide participate in formal shooting clubs, and thousands learn to use firearms safely and effectively with their parents.

Led by Desirae Davis of Crawford, over a hundred teens signed a pro-gun letter that was sent to politicians and media in Colorado. Having participated in distributing the letter, I know the names were gathered quickly during a time when many students were out of town, so a more comprehensive effort would have netted many times the number of names collected. The reply was enthusiastic. A few of the comments sent back read:

[My brother] Mark and I would be glad to sign this letter. This is exactly what I would like to tell a few of those politicians that want gun control.

I would definitely agree to sign the letter. I'm glad someone is doing something sensible about these issues that have been brought up since Columbine. If you would like, I will pass a copy of this on to some others I know.

Please include my brother and me on the letter; we have reviewed it and strongly agree with its message. Thanks for contacting us.

I would be glad to add my name to this letter and would be willing to add my name to future letters of this sort. I have attached the names of a few friends that would most likely add their names to this letter.

The letter gained strong media coverage. The Denver Post published a story about it, as did the Craig Daily Press and the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. A Grand Junction news broadcast featered Davis as its lead story during its early and late editions. Both the Post and the Rocky Mountain News published the letter on August 8.

The letter also received national attention. It was mentioned on National Public Radio, in the Washington Times, and on Fox News. (Those are only the outlets I know about.)

State Senator Ron Teck sent a letter to Davis stating:

Thank you so much for making the effort to rally Colorado Teenagers to respond to the fever pitch of anti-gun rhetoric being flung about now. It makes me hopeful for the future of this country to know that there are young people [who] care about our rights and aren't willing to "roll over" for the media.

The letter follows.

To whom it may concern:

We, the undersigned, are Colorado teenagers who believe the right to bear arms is fundamental to our form of government and to the safety of our communities.

We do NOT agree with anti-gun lobby groups such as SAFE that more gun controls will make our communities safer. Rather, the gun control measures now proposed will serve mostly to take guns out of the hands of peaceable citizens, leaving good people less able to defend themselves against violent criminals. Criminals just avoid the laws anyway. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold broke at least 17 gun control laws -- a couple more would not have stopped them.

Through increased training and education, we believe we can reduce gun violence. But ill-conceived "feel-good" laws can only make matters worse. Citizens use handguns over a million times per year to thwart crime. Even more crime is prevented because many would-be criminals are afraid to enter armed communities. Thus, households with guns help protect even the members of SAFE, because criminals don't know which potential victim might be armed. In addition, Professor John Lott has shown that a wider carry of handguns actually drastically reduces the number of mass-murders.

If politicians are serious about making society safer, they will make it easier, not harder, for honest citizens to carry guns. If politicians are serious about preserving our heritage of freedom as we enter the new millennium, they will turn a critical eye toward anti-gun lobbies like SAFE.

The Colorado Freedom Report--www.FreeColorado.com