I’ve owned a rifle and hunted since I was 14 years old. I taught my four children about gun safety and we still hunt together. After the massacre at Columbine High School, people started talking about how to prevent that kind of gun violence.
I wanted Colorado to be a leader in this effort, so, with the support of a group of fellow hunters, I founded Hunters Against Gun Violence. If we are going talk about gun use and restrictions, hunters have credibility because they use guns to feed their families.
I believe in the Second Amendment, but I don’t believe it gives everyone the absolute right to own any gun they want. I don’t believe that the Second Amendment includes people with serious mental health issues, people intent on domestic violence, or people with criminal records for violent offenses.
Recent polls show that 79 percent of Colorado voters support the bill to create a law establishing an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO). That is an overwhelming majority. The poll included gun owners. The ERPO law makes a lot of sense.
A lot of good people have lost their lives because Colorado doesn’t have an ERPO law, including the victims of the Aurora theater shooting and Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputy Zackari Parrish III.
ERPO laws in other states have saved lives and will save lives here. Domestic violence incidents often happen because of temporary anger or rage on the part of the instigator. Passage of the ERPO bill could prevent such incidents.
I think my views are pretty typical of hunters. We would like to see the sport of hunting be respected and kept safe. We would like to see people who are dangerous to themselves or others have their rights to own and purchase guns restricted thus restricting their ability to cause harm.
The National Rifle Association is right about “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” That’s why people who are a danger to themselves and others should not have guns.
I took the NRA gun safety class when I got my first hunting rifle, but I quit the NRA in the early 1960s when they stopped talking about gun safety and just talked about guns and gun rights.
It pains me to see people and organizations like the NRA treat guns as if owning a gun is an inalienable right, rather than a tool and a responsibility.
Groups like the NRA and the RMGO say the ERPO bill in the Colorado Legislature doesn’t provide due process. They’re wrong. The law would provide due process because there is a judge involved at the very start who makes a decision based on the evidence. And there is a review by a judge within 14 days.
It is a tremendous responsibility for the legislature and the courts to make laws protecting the rights of people when deciding who should be able to have a gun and restricting the rights of those who shouldn’t.
That task is painful and difficult. There are going to be people who oppose the law and challenge it, but that’s not important as long as the law has the potential to save lives without infringing on the legitimate gun rights of persons who are legally allowed to purchase and own guns.
Hunters are interested in the public good, in public safety, and in the curbing of senseless violence against innocent persons. We support common sense regulations such as ERPO. You only have to save one life for it to be worth it. An ERPO law is long overdue in Colorado.
Don Macalady, a retired Colorado School of Mines, geochemistry professor, founded Hunters Against Gun Violence. The national non-profit group promotes gun safety and curbing the proliferation of gun violence.