Routt County gun owners told at meeting to speak out
January 19, 2013
Steamboat Springs — Concerned gun owners in Steamboat Springs were preparing for a fight as state and national lawmakers consider stricter gun control laws.
About 50 people packed into the Elk River Guns shop Saturday evening to learn how to effectively voice their opinions to lawmakers as the gun control debate goes forward.
"I want to be proactive for what I really believe in, which are my constitutional rights," said Jeanne Lodwick, who attended the meeting with her husband, Dennis.
The meeting was held on the first Gun Appreciation day. Rallies were held at state capitols across the country Saturday. The Denver Post reported almost 1,000 people gathered outside the Colorado Capitol as part of a pro-gun rally.
The gun rights advocates are becoming more vocal after President Barack Obama announced gun control proposals that would ban assault-style rifles, enact universal background checks and prohibit gun magazines with more than 10 rounds.
Colorado Sen. Randy Baumgardner, a Cowdrey Republican who represents Senate District 8, was expected to attend the meeting, but he was unable to.
Instead, Elk River Guns owner Ken Constantine read an email from Baumgardner, who wrote that there is talk of legislation at the state level to ban assault weapons, "whatever that means." He said there also is talk of stricter background checks.
"We don't know what any of it looks like right now," Baumgardner wrote.
He said what lawmakers need to focus on is keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill and focusing on school safety.
"Rolling back rights of responsible citizens is not the proper response," Baumgardner wrote.
Information about how to communicate with lawmakers was distributed by Steamboat resident Brent Lounsbury, who previously worked as a legislative aide to former House District 59 Rep. Mark Larson.
"Your voice is not powerless in this situation," Lounsbury said. "Your voice is your most powerful weapon."
Lounsbury said the most effective way of getting your opinion through to lawmakers — besides talking to one in person — is to talk to them on the phone. After that, a hand-signed letter is most effective followed by an email.
"They get a lot of emails, but they read them," Lounsbury said.
He said written forms of communication ideally should be no more than 250 words.
"You're going to have a lot more to say than that, but concise is best," Lounsbury said.
Constantine encouraged people to make their voices heard.
"This is not a partisan issue," he said. "This is an American issue. This is a Second Amendment issue."
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com