Governor "Gun Control" Bill Owens snuk past gun owners yet again June 15. At previous rallies Owens was dubbed "Back Door Bill" for the habit. Owens wooed the support of gun owners in 1998 to clinch his narrow victory, but he has since advocated a number of anti-gun policies. While Owens fared poorly in Denver, he did well on the Western Slope.
Sentiments toward Owens appear to be changing in the west. At a banquet featuring Yale Professor John Lott (More Guns, Less Crime) earlier in the year, one speaker asked members of the crowd to raise their hands if they voted for Owens previously. Nearly every hand went up. The speaker then asked the participants to keep their hands in the air if they intended to vote for Owens again. Of the 200 attending, fewer than a dozen left their hands up, and that small number consisted mostly of professional politicians.
On the 15th, around 50 civil arms proponents joined the demonstration in protest of Owens' policies. The crowd was larger than many expected, given that the event was held on Thursday at 11:00 am and most attendees had little advance notice. Three demonstrators drove from the Eastern Slope, while several traveled from surrounding towns such as Rifle.
Melanie and Rick Alber helped organize the event. Rick Kaufman, a founding member of the local Pro-Second Amendment Committee, attended and gave several press interviews. Melanie Alber held a sign critical of Owens' refusal to keep concealed carry information confidential.
Other signs read, "Hey Owens: Freedom is Not a Loophole," a reference to Owens' support of a petition to expand background registration checks to private sales at gun shows.
Since last Fall, Owens has also killed a state-wide concealed carry bill, supported redundant CBI background checks which deny people permission to purchase a firearm based on faulty records and force people to prove themselves innocent if wrongfully denied, proposed an increased age to purchase firearms, and supported mandatory gun storage laws which have been called "rapist protection" laws because they render guns useless for self-defense.
Members of the Pro-Second Amendment Committee, Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, the National Rifle Association, and the Libertarian Party attended the demonstration. While some in attendance varied on political tactics, all agreed that Owens had stabbed them in the back and violated civil gun rights. Some members of the Municipal League gave the demonstrators a frosty reception, but others responded enthusiastically and donned pro-gun stickers. A large number of passing cars honked in support.
The local paper and a Denver paper covered the event, as did three local television stations and several radio stations.
A Denver Post article included:
"We worked to get him into office, and now I'd like to find a way to get
him out," said Paul Gibbs, a retired homebuilder from Montrose who sported
a straw cowboy hat and a poster saying "Two-Faced Owens."
"He's got a pocketful of broken promises," Gibbs said.
Grand Junction's Daily Sentinel wrote:
"This guy flip-flops on the issues," said Steve Klovalski. "He appealed to
voters as a supporter during the campaign. Then, as soon as he gets into
office, he starts trampling the Second Amendment..."
"This guy's only going to be a one-term governor," predicted Robbie Welch...
Nine-year-old Sam Alber was protesting with the others and passing out fliers.
"I really, really, really want gun control to stop. Everybody always says
guns make all the trouble. It's people that do that," he said.