“No!” shouted people standing at a forum on gun-control legislation held by state Sen. Jeanne Nicholson on Sunday afternoon.
“I will end this meeting totally if you can’t keep quiet,” said Sue Marinelli, moderator for the event at Conifer High School.
The school’s auditorium was filled with more than 200 people who came to express their views, many wearing labels on their shirts reading “I vote pro-gun.” It was the third recent appearance by Nicholson, a Democrat from Gilpin County who represents a sprawling mountain district that includes Conifer and Evergreen, where the topic of gun control took center stage.
This week state Senate committees are reviewing a package of Democrat-sponsored bills that would require background checks for all gun purchases and a fee to cover their costs; limit ammunition magazines to 15 rounds; and ban concealed firearms on college campuses. Four of the bills have passed the House.
Pro-gun advocates at the forum called the pending legislation unwise and unconstitutional. A majority of attendees were members of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, a Colorado-based gun rights organization.
“I have dedicated my life to upholding and defending the Constitution … When we legislate gun control, we are no longer citizens, we are subjects,” said Steve Carter, a career law enforcement officer.
Joel Anderle, a sergeant with the Gilpin County Sheriff’s Office, said he does not support the gun-control bills, which he believes would be difficult to enforce as written.
“I would urge Jeanne to please vote no,” Anderle said.
Others who spoke out against the gun-control legislation said deranged individuals are responsible for deaths in mass shootings, and that responsible gun owners should not have their rights curtailed.
“I’m a law-abiding citizen,” said Mike Pope. “Why punish me for what these crazies are doing?”
Pope also said the current gun-control bills are poorly written and that they would curtail the use of many traditional guns.
“Crazy is crazy. You can’t legislate crazy. No legislation is going to fix that,” said Chris Patrick. “Please don’t punish me for responsibly, legally doing what I enjoy doing. … None of my guns have been used to commit a crime”
“I support increasing mental health funding,” said Cynthia Schmidt.
Closing the loopholes in background checks is a reasonable measure to take, she added.
A few people at the forum spoke in support of the gun-control bills.
“We are in favor of reasonable limits to Second Amendment rights,” said Linda Rockwell. “We feel compelled to do something.”
Rockwell and other supporters of gun-control legislation were wearing green ribbons in memory of people recently killed at a movie theater in Aurora and at a school in Sandy Hook, Conn.
“All the people who killed people in the schools are crazy people. They are not us,” remarked a pro-gun person.
“To me, the main thing is security,” said Patrick.
If there had been more security in Aurora, more people would have been saved, he said.
A security presence was provided at Sunday’s forum by a Colorado State Patrol officer. Nicholson’s family members escorted her from the event.
Some who attended the forum said they were disappointed that Nicholson declined to comment on the legislation.
“I’m surprised you’re not talking today, said Mike Whittington. “I hope you have been listening to us.”
Nicholson said she came to hear what people had to say, and that no decision had been made on the bills.
“Speak!” someone called out to her.
Contact reporter Sandy Barnes at email@example.com or call 303-350-1042.