Second Amendment a focus of local tea party forum
April 11, 2011
If you go …
What: Tax Day Freedom Rally
When: 5:30 p.m. Friday
Where: Moffat County Courthouse lawn, 221 W. Victory Way
— The event, hosted by the Bears Ears Tea Party Patriots, will include speeches such as a keynote address by Michael Holler, author of “The Constitution Made Easy,” music by Rich Norman and Wanda Brown, and refreshments provided by Bear River Young Life. Heller will also be teaching a class on the U.S. Constitution from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at American Legion Post 62, 1055 Moffat County Road 7. The entry fee is $25.
When considering the issue of gun control, Moffat County Sheriff Tim Jantz said he recalls an incident in 1961 in Wisconsin, when three men gunned down a law enforcement officer during a traffic stop.
The officer was his father, and all three men involved were paroled for their crime.
Jantz said that for some people, such circumstances might cause them to take an anti-gun stance, but he is not one of those people.
"It was not the guns that committed the crime," he said.
Jantz was one of three speakers during an April 7 meeting of the Bears Ears Tea Party Patriots. The organization's forum focused on the Second Amendment.
The crowd of about 50 people at The Center of Craig began the meeting with a reading of the first four amendments of the Bill of Rights and how they are perceived today.
Former U.S. congressional candidate Bob McConnell, of Steamboat Springs, took the lead on the second of the four, which he believes to be "the most important 27 words in the Constitution."
"It makes us unique among the people of the world," he said.
McConnell added that while many Americans are aware of the rights afforded to them by the amendment, less people know of the Militia Acts of 1792, which mandated that all "able-bodied men" keep themselves armed for their country, an idea that he believes is just as important more than 200 years later.
Steve Sloan, president of the Bears Ears Sportsman Club, spoke next, discussing the importance of gun safety for all ages through education.
"(It's) great even if you never use it," he said.
Sloan has been certified by the National Rifle Association as a handgun instructor for two years. He has also taught the use of firearms in general for about 10 years.
"My way of fighting for gun rights is education," he said. "Anybody that can learn is going to be better off, and hopefully we can prevent accidents from happening and give anti-gun people less ammunition to come after us with."
Jantz agreed that learning proper gun use is necessary for citizens in need of protection.
He cited the Jan. 8 shooting in Tuscon, Ariz., in which six people were killed and U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was critically wounded, as an example of how using guns defensively could prevent injuries and worse.
"If you were standing there, how would you feel if you couldn't do anything?" he asked the group.
Jantz said he believes part of the problem lies in a government that is too lenient and "does not enforce consequences," something he tries to combat in his job by fighting overly permissive parole.
"They’ve let sexually violent predators back on the street," he said. "This is not paranoia. We see this on our TVs every day. It's preservation."
Jantz said another thing people need to understand is that even using a gun in defense can go wrong.
"You'd better know the law if you're going to pull the trigger," he said.
McConnell said the duty of Americans is to know what's involved in keeping their rights.
"It's up to everyone if we're going to be responsible citizens," he said.
Although he will not be able to attend, McConnell encouraged the crowd to celebrate their rights Friday in the Tea Party's local Tax Day Freedom Rally on the lawn of the Moffat County Courthouse.
The event will include numerous speakers, including Michael Holler, author of "The Constitution Made Easy."
"A right is only as good as your determination to exercise it," McConnell said. "If we don't exercise our rights, they'll disappear."
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