Legislative Gun Debate Stirs Up Local Gun Advocates
KREX News Room
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.- Local gun advocates from the Orchard Mesa Gun Club are concerned about the potential of an assault weapons ban hurting the sport of competitive shooting.
The crackdown on guns comes in the wake of two mass shootings in Colorado and Connecticut.
Last July James Holmes allegedly shot and killed 12 people while injuring 70 more in an Aurora movie theater premiere of "The Dark Knight Rises." Even more recently, Adam Lazna shot and killed 20 children and 6 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
Since the shootings, President Obama and some lawmakers have aggressively pursued gun control.
In a January 16th memorandum, President Obama pressured Congress to "reinstate and strengthen the prohibition on assault weapons."
However, Tom Matthews, Chairman of the Board of Directors, says banning any type of fire arm won't solve anything. "We have more and more people on the earth, so we're going to have, percentage wise, more violence. It's not going to go away. For them to ban something doesn't make any sense."
Matthews says he's concerned about a firearms ban, but says the Second Amendment should protect his and others gun rights. "The Constitution says we have a right to own firearms. It doesn't specifically say you can take any one of them away."
The Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights reads, "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."
Karl Castleton, also a supporter of the Second Amendment, say we are interpreting the declaration wrong and pro-gun advocates aren't looking at the amendment as a whole.
"I think what's missing about most people's debates about the Second Amendment is the part about the well regulated militia. The question is, can you own those weapons? Should you be part of a militia? Should you be trained? Should you understand how to use them, be careful with them and not let them come into the hands of someone with a violent mental illness?" said Castleton.
Jeff Howard is a competitive shooter and fires an Bushmaster AR 15, the same weapon used in the Aurora massacre and one of the weapons on the chopping block to a potential assault firearms ban.
Despite their difference surrounding the Second Amendment, Howard and Castleton both agree mental illness is a focal point that needs to be addressed.
"We may need new laws that, unfortunately, take away some of the privacy in the treatment of mental illness so that people, that mental health experts identify as potentially dangerous, can be sequestered until their no longer dangerous," said Howard.
In his memorandum, President Obama urged Congress to provide millions for mental health care in order to "make access to mental health care as easy as access to a gun."
Despite the ongoing debate of gun control in Washington and Denver, no bills have made it to the desks of President Obama or Governor Hickenlooper.
State lawmakers say they won't pursue an assault weapons ban but are moving forward with proposals involving guns.
Several bills have passed through Colorado House Committees, including House Bills, 1226, 1228 and 1229.
House Bill 1226 would revoke the right to carry a concealed firearm on college campuses or in stadiums. House Bill 1228 would create an additional fee for gun buyers to go towards the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to pay for background checks. Lastly, House Bill 1229 would mandate a background check for all gun purchases, including private sales.
Matthews says there could be any number of ramifications to his club if a state or federal weapons ban is passed, ranging from increased ammunition costs to the decay of competitive shooting.
Local lawmakers have heard the concerns of Matthews and others within his organization, however, he says the only thing that can be done right now is wait for lawmakers to move forward with proposed legislation before making any decisions.