I have been a gun owner for 58 years, essentially all my life: target, skeet, birding and game. I’ve enjoyed them all. And like many Colorado gun owners, I’ve also believed that not everyone should have a gun, certainly not anyone under any circumstances. Reasonable safeguards to protect themselves and their neighbors are simply a part of gun ownership.
Before my mom allowed me (at age 13) to own my first .22 in the 1950s, I was required to take a gun safety class. Before my first hunt at age 14, a hunter safety class was required, too. Seemed fair enough since she wouldn’t let me drive our family car without expectations either.
Now, however, every discussion of safeguards in gun ownership seems to be met by an uproar of unhappy folks, worried somehow that “they” are coming after our firearms. The latest commotion is about the Red Flag Bill, also called an Extreme Risk Protection Order. I don’t think that such a precaution is necessarily unreasonable, especially after having experienced events where early interventions could have prevented bad outcomes, one of which ended tragically.
In the first, my wife (who I’ve grown quite attached to, and who could have been an unlucky recipient had a bad situation gone worse) found herself standing next to a gent who had been pointing his rifle at a nearby house where he was convinced that our newest neighbors were building a meth lab. He had missed one of the medications that kept him grounded and had become quite detached from reality. So, he explained, he was keeping an eye on them through the telescopic sight of his rifle. You can imagine what the other homeowner felt when she looked out the window and saw the barrel of a rifle pointed right at her head! The good man had become quite delusional, but thankfully two deputies showed up to disarm the poor fellow.
Another acquaintance struggled with his own demons. We knew he had bouts of extreme depression, but what we did not know was that he still possessed a firearm … until one day he turned it on himself and pulled the trigger.
Neither should have been in possession of a firearm. I don’t know what options were available or tried but if all else failed, a legal process for removing the firearms would have been in order. Should a prevention law exist? Absolutely. Could such a law be perfect? No, but how many imperfections are equivalent to the life of a man who should not have died at the end of his own gun, or a classroom of students who trust us to keep them safe?
A special thanks to Keith Baker and Greg Felt for supporting reasonable firearm protections for my family, my friends and our neighbors.