In the post-Columbine era, Colorado will always be a target for gun-control advocates.
A recent report by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the Million Mom March gives Colorado a grade of D for not having strong-enough gun laws on the books.
What the anti-gun lobby fails to understand is that strict measures aimed at reducing gun violence and accidental shootings can hardly be applied across the boards. A state law designed to stop gun violence in one part of the state will only infringe upon the rights of responsible gun owners elsewhere.
We think Moffat County has proven to be a place where guns are treated with the respect they deserve. Guns are part of the fabric of life here. Children are indoctrinated early to be safe with guns, observing common-sense rules like handing a rifle to a friend before ducking through a barbwire fence. Many businesses couldn't survive without the fall hunting season, so local citizens understandably cling to their Second Amendment rights.
Colorado could improve its grade with the Brady Campaign by banning assault weapons, requiring child-safety locks to be sold with guns and holding adults responsible for leaving loaded guns around.
Those measures seem reasonable, but they're unlikely to become laws anytime soon. There are too many hunters, NRA members and independent-minded Westerners living in Colorado for lawmakers to risk alienating by clamping down on guns. Colorado and other Western states could be getting poor marks from the Brady watchdog group for years to come.
Moffat County has already demonstrated a measure of responsibility for meeting the Brady threshold by prosecuting a father whose preschooler took a .357-caliber handgun to school. The child found the weapon under the seat and the father pleaded guilty to charges of child abuse.
Last spring, the Craig City Council rejected a proposed ordinance that would have restricted carrying firearms in the open on city property and liquore stores. The issue was debated vigorously and city fathers decided that locals are responsible enough with their weapons to not be subjected to another gun law. There hasn't been an act of random violence involving a gun in recent memory.
If state lawmakers won't restrict assault weapons or require child-safety locks on guns, then at the very least, Moffat County residents can count themselves lucky to be living in a place where residents understand and accept the awesome responsibility of owning a deadly weapon.