Second Amendment Civil Rights March
by Ari Armstrong, February 3, 2000
Between 300 and 500 civil arms activists marched to Governor Bill Owens' mansion tonight to advocate their civil rights to keep and bear arms. The march started at Governors' Park at 7th and Logan in Denver around 7:00 pm and lasted just over an hour, progressing to the governor's mansion and then back to the park for closing speeches. Hundreds of signs and several American flags danced above the crowds.
Bob Glass makes a speech defending civil gun rights.
Bob Glass, owner of Paladin Arms in Boulder and publisher of Partisan magazine, helped lead the march and its organization. He said Owens was singled out for protest because the governor campaigned on pro-Second Amendment promises but has since "stabbed gun owners in the back." Dudley Brown of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners was also instrumental in publicizing and organizing the event. Both Brown and Glass spoke of the event on the Freedom Network on AM 1360. In addition, the Libertarian Party of Colorado encouraged its members to attend and passed out literature at the event.
The march was uniformly peaceful, though spirited. Protesters chanted, "No more gun-control!" "One-term Owens!" "More guns, less crime!" "Benedict Owens!" And, "You lied!"
Owens was dubbed "Governor Gun-Control" by RMGO and others after he introduced a slate of disarmament proposals, including one to discriminate against law-abiding adults ages 18-20 and another to put the burden of proof on Colorado citizens who are denied permission to purchase a gun based on faulty records. Owens selected Democrat Ken Salazar, Attorney General, and Aristed Zavaras, formerly of Democrat Governor Roy Romer's administration, to head his gun-control team.
Even though many members of the National Rifle Association have openly expressed disapproval for Owens' recent tactics, some leaders of the state's NRA affiliate, the Colorado State Shooting Association, snubbed the civil rights march, opting instead for traditional political strategies. One of the marchers referred to the NRA leadership as "wimps." One protester held a sign saying he didn't support the NRA because the organization compromised. Brown said the NRA's politics of appeasement hasn't worked.
The 1998 Libertarian candidate for governor, Sandra Johnson, won more votes than Owens' margin of victory. Now many predict Owens will lose in 2002 because he is alienating gun owners in the state. Owens found much of his support on the Western Slope and on the Eastern Plains, more so than in the urban Denver area. Reports from Grand Junction suggest wide-spread disgust with Owens because of his push for new gun restriction laws. Owens told the Denver Post last fall in reference to gun owners, "What are they going to do -- vote Democratic?" Many have said they may do just that -- or vote Libertarian.
Dave Kopel, author of numerous books and articles supportive of the right to bear arms, said in a 9-News interview that Owens is the greatest impediment to pro-gun legislation in Colorado. Others have said Owens is worse than Democrat Gail Schoettler would have been, because at least the Democrat wouldn't have been able to pressure Republican legislators.
The march was publicized through the internet and the radio and with a few hundred dollars worth of postage. On the other hand, the disarmament group Sane Alternatives to the Firearms Epidemic, the name of which likens gun ownership to a disease, purchased a multi-thousand dollar ad in a major newspaper and drew a smaller crowd for its rally last month. It's ironic that the disarmament lobby claims it has grass-roots support and demonizes the NRA, when in fact the disarmament lobby is driven by big-dollar donors and the civil gun rights movement is composed of dozens of different groups and thousands of individuals acting cooperatively to preserve civil rights.
Marchers line the street in front of Governor Owens' mansion. Other activists -- unshown -- also lined the other side of the street from which the photo was taken.
The fact that some NRA leaders snubbed the civil rights march, yet the march still pulled a large crowd, should demonstrate to the main-stream press once and for all that those who advocate the Bill of Rights do not necessarily even endorse the NRA, much less bend to its leadership. Whether main-stream reporters will acknowledge this now-obvious fact remains to be seen.
Of course, plenty of NRA members did attend the march. Many gun owners join a variety of groups, even when the leaders of those groups don't get along. Brown and CSSA leaders have suffered a strained relationship, but recently Brown publicly called for renewed cooperation in defeating gun restriction bills.
The principles for which our Founding Fathers pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor are alive and well as the United States move into the 21st century.
Long live the Bill of Rights!