Letter: Lessons from Pueblo | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Lessons from Pueblo

The Pitkin County Democratic Party sent six members to Pueblo to help state Sen. Angela Giron defeat the recall election. As we all know, our efforts were not successful, yet we did learn many valuable lessons as we went door to door in Pueblo.

Several times, when voters came to the door, they would see our Giron T-shirt or signs and they would immediately declare, "I'm a gun owner, and I can't vote for Angela." However, after we took the time to point out that no one wanted to take away their guns and that, in fact, the gun-safety measures Giron had voted for were for expanded background checks, limiting magazines to 15 rounds and requiring those seeking concealed-handgun permits to apply in person and not online, nine out of 10 times we won the voter over.

Most voters would say, "Oh, so that's all it's about — I'm in favor of all those things." This was, of course, especially true of women voters — many of whom strongly favor expanded background checks.

As we reel once again from the carnage at the Navy Yards in Washington, D.C., some are disheartened that the results in Pueblo mean that politicians will once again take the safe route and vote with the National Rifle Association or else they, too, could face a recall.

Our experience in Pueblo has shown us different. Voters favor Colorado's new common-sense gun-safety measures — when they are explained to them. We cannot keep ceding the argument to the NRA. It is time to stand up to the out-of-step gun manufacturers' lobby group and inform voters that gun safety saves lives.

I come from a family of hunters and responsible gun owners; I am not advocating getting rid of all guns. Expanded background checks, smaller-capacity magazines and in-person concealed-handgun training do not infringe on anyone's Second Amendment rights. The new Colorado gun-safety laws were passed and implemented after the last legislative session in May — and not one person has lost their guns. These common-sense laws do not take anyone's guns away.

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It is wrong to allow the NRA to preach the supremacy of its Second Amendment rights over our rights as parents to send our kids to school without fear that another mentally ill man with an AR-15 will mow them down. People in this country have the right to be able to go to work to support their families without fear that another mentally ill gunman with another AR-15 will mow them down at their workplace.

These gun-safety laws will not prevent all future gun violence, but they will help. Since 1994, 1.9 million gun purchases by dangerous people have been stopped, according to Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

You can help. Visit the websites of the many gun-safety organizations such as former Rep. Gabby Giffords' organization website at http://action.americansforresponsiblesolutions.org/letter or the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence at http://www.bradynetwork.org/site/MessageViewer?em_id=52121.0&pgwrap=n or Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense at http://momsdemandaction.org.

Sign up to help candidates who promote gun-safety laws. Once again, write, email and phone our U.S. Congressman Scott Tipton at http://www.tipton.house.gov/contact-me/email-me, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet at http://www.bennet.senate.gov/contact and U.S. Sen. Mark Udall at http://www.markudall.senate.gov, and tell them to finally close the gun-show loophole and pass universal background checks for gun purchases.

Enough is enough — we must stop being complacent, and we must stand up to the NRA.

Blanca O'Leary

Chairwoman, Pitkin County Democratic Party

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