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.
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: