Libertarians Remain Pro-Gun

The Colorado Freedom Report:  A libertarian journal of politics and culture.

The Colorado Freedom

Libertarians Remain Pro-Gun

by Ari Armstrong, February 15, 2002

In a recent editorial for the Pikes Peak Firearms Coalition, Bernie Herpin asks, "How pro-gun are Libertarians?" The short answer is "completely." Libertarians want to repeal every federal gun law on the books. No more than a handful of elected Republicans would be willing to take such a bold pro-gun stand. Libertarians also want to eliminate state-level anti-gun laws and create Vermont-style concealed carry, which means people can carry without getting a permit. Not even the NRA backs a Vermont system for Colorado.

Herpin's particular problem is with the Leadville City Council, which is now controlled by a 4-3 Libertarian majority. However, Lake County Sheriff Ed Holte already issues concealed carry permits liberally in his county, which includes the city of Leadville. He said he "definitely" supports concealed carry.

But Herpin wonders why Leadville doesn't issue concealed carry across the state. I salute the town of Stratton, which has decided to do just that. However, my understanding is that Stratton has been deluged with requests, resulting in a wait that's several years long. A permit that takes several years to process isn't very useful. The town of Leadville's Libertarian majority would rather spend its scarce resources serving the citizens of Leadville than trying to create a state-wide program.

According to Mark Holden, a Libertarian candidate for state representative, Aimee Rathburn of the Colorado State Shooting Association said February 14 that Libertarians should "put up or shut up." But the Leadville Libertarians are actively passing pro-freedom reforms, while it is Rathburn who has failed to produce good results. Indeed, one of the politicians Rathburn's group endorsed -- Bill Owens -- signed Amendment 22 on the very first line. Similarly, Herpin was reportedly working on Owens' reelection campaign. Not only have some CSSA-backed Republicans failed to "put up," they have actively diminished our Second Amendment rights.

It is indeed ironic that Rathburn would ask Leadville to use its limited city resources to initiate a state-wide program on the very day a house committee passed a concealed carry bill that would end the city's program. It would be downright irresponsible for Leadville to waste precious resources implementing a state-wide program the state may shut down within a matter of weeks anyway. (The concealed carry bill would require all sheriffs to issue permits liberally; thus, it represents an improvement.)

As Councilor Carol Hill noted, "I don't have a state-wide constituency, and people here are happy with the way the sheriff is handling concealed carry." The appropriate route for changing state policy is to change state law. Unfortunately, the Republicans killed a state-wide concealed carry bill after the Columbine murders, even though concealed carry can often prevent such murders. Again, Libertarians advocate state-wide Vermont-style carry.

Further, Herpin writes, "While Libertarians claim to support our right to keep and bear arms, it appears they have their own agenda which may be at odds with protecting our rights." This is nothing but irresponsible gossip. The Libertarian "agenda" is to defend the entire Bill of Rights, including the Second Amendment. Leadville already enjoys a liberal concealed carry program, so the Council has decided to focus their energies fighting to regain other freedoms. And, as Herpin also reminds us elsewhere in his newsletter, the state legislature may well change the entire system soon anyway.

As Councilor Joe Swyers said, "Is the PPFC admitting that their own Republicans can't solve the concealed carry issue for themselves? Are they admitting they need Libertarians from poor beleaguered Leadville save them? Don't the Leadville Libertarians have enough on their hands with repealing ordinances against free speech, fireworks, private enterprise, and property rights? (All of these repeals are in the works or about to be passed.) From even before the new Leadville city council had their first meeting, Colorado Springs Republicans were calling Leadville's Libertarians for help. Leadville's Libertarians have repeatedly said that if their sheriff was not freely issuing concealed carry permits they would have as a top priority passing a "shall issue" ordinance for their police chief. Because our Republican sheriff is issuing permits, we don't have to deal with this issue now and can instead focus on repealing laws which infringe on other rights. Nevertheless, Republicans in Colorado Springs want this council with a slim and fragile majority to spend time and political capital trying to rescue out-of-towners who can't help themselves, even though Republicans control El Paso county. Is this not what their plea to Leadville boils down to, an admission that Libertarians in a small town are expected and asked to do what Republicans in Colorado's second largest city can't do for themselves?"

What's more, Herpin employs an obvious double-standard. If all Libertarians are responsible for the actions of a few, then all Republicans are responsible for Bill Owens signing Amendment 22 on the very first line. The Leadville Libertarians have behaved admirably, so there is nothing to criticize. It is the Republicans who have acted to restrict our freedoms, and it is the Republicans Herpin bears responsibility for criticizing.

The Colorado Freedom