Ritter opposes right of self-defense
by Linn and Ari Armstrong
The following article was originally published by Grand Junction Free Press on October 2, 2006.
Despite his "A" rating from the NRA (talk about grade inflation), Bob Beauprez has not always been a friend to Colorado gun owners. But his gubernatorial opponent Bill Ritter has been a persistent enemy of our right to bear arms.
Back in 2000, Beauprez, along with Bill Owens and Ritter, supported the proposal of Sane Alternatives to the Firearms Epidemic, the name of which likened gun ownership to a disease, to expand Brady registration checks. The year before, Beauprez wrote a letter to Republicans urging them to "proactively offer up legislation" further restricting the right to bear arms.
Yet, as Mark Couch's surprisingly informative September 17 article for The Denver Post summarizes, in Congress "Beauprez has opposed efforts that would expose the gun industry to liability or impose restrictions on access to guns." Gun-control activist Tom Mauser reminded Couch that Beauprez "did not support the renewal of the [so-called] assault-weapons ban." Couch notes that Beauprez also "voted against mandatory safety locks on handguns." Beauprez has fought numerous efforts to whittle away the Second Amendment.
Beauprez writes on his web page, "I believe that the Second Amendment was intended not only for sporting purposes, like hunting, but for the self-defense of free peoples without unwarranted interference by government." We sometimes disagree with Beauprez about what constitutes "unwarranted interference." Yet Ritter is orders of magnitude worse on the issue. While Ritter does not support an outright gun ban, it's clear that, for Ritter, gun ownership is not a right at all, but something for which we must ask politicians for permission.
And if the Democrats take control of the entire state government this Fall, we can expect to fight renewed Democratic attacks on our right to bear arms come January. From limits on concealed carry to storage laws to partial bans, you can count on Ritter to rubber-stamp anything pushed through by the Denver Democrats who control Ritter's party and the state legislature.
Couch writes, "Ritter has testified for tougher gun-control laws so often that he's already a familiar face at the state Capitol." Couch quotes David Gill, vice president of the Colorado State Shooting Association, on Ritter: "He's our poster child of gun control in the state of Colorado."
As Couch notes, Ritter supports restrictive local anti-gun ordinances and storage requirements. For instance, Denver arbitrarily banned politically-incorrect semiautomatic guns functionally identical to other guns.
And don't confuse storage requirements with safety. Storage restrictions reduce safety by undermining the right of self-defense. Irresponsible gun owners, just like irresponsible owners of all other items, are already subject to standard liability laws and general criminal statutes such as those against child abuse. The measures supported by Ritter unfairly discriminate against gun owners and subject them, but not owners of any other item, to special legal harassment and intimidation. This is despite the fact that, as Freakonomics notes, a child "is roughly 100 times more likely to die in a swimming accident... than in gunplay."
Beauprez's August 31 release describes two more issues on which Ritter has advocated more restrictions on the right of self-defense. Ritter disparaged Colorado's so-called "Make My Day" law, which allows homeowners to respond with potentially lethal force when someone breaks into your home. (The popular title, invoked by the law's opponents, has stuck.) Ritter told Westword, "Make My Day takes reasonableness out of the equation."
But we think it's reasonable to ensure that homeowners aren't prosecuted for protecting themselves and their loved ones. Ritter's smear notwithstanding, the actual language of the statute is eminently reasonable and properly restricted to legitimate cases of self-defense. We're proud that our sister and aunt (respectively), former State Rep. Vickie Armstrong, pushed this self-defense measure through the legislature years ago. Mesa County voters obviously value the legal right to defend our homes against intruders. That right would be threatened by Democrats.
And a May 1, 2002, article from the Rocky Mountain News notes that Ritter testified against "a statewide system for issuing concealed weapons permits in Colorado." According to Couch, Ritter "would require a review of the applicant's mental health" for a permit. But a right is not subject to prior restraint. People should not have to get permission from some government shrink before exercising their fundamental human right of self-defense (even if, in the case of concealed carry, the state's constitution permits legislative action). This is just one more way to harass and intimidate responsible gun owners, resulting in less self-defense and more victimization.
Similarly, people should not have to get permission from a government shrink to buy a copy of the Koran or Bible. And does anyone doubt that those items in the wrong hands can be dangerous?
It's called the Bill of Rights, not the Bill of Privileges, the Bill of Permissions, or the Bill of Bureaucratic Boot Licking. While we're not sure that Beauprez totally understands that, we're quite convinced that Ritter doesn't get it. Ritter would actively seek to violate our rights.