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From the Denver Post:
By State Sen. Mark Hillman
Proponents of gun control prefer to blame their legislative failures on the gun lobby's campaign war chest rather than to look in the mirror.

By casting their opponents as corrupt and callous, the gun-control crowd avoids the unpleasant admission that its hysterical fear of guns isn't shared by mainstream Coloradans, that severe regulations don't bother criminals and that emotional tirades wither when held to intellectual scrutiny.

Moreover, if pro-gun legislators are mind-numbed robots captivated by campaign contributions, what does that say about anti-gun legislators?

Surely, groups like SAFE Colorado and Colorado Ceasefire aren't so self-righteous as to believe that all gun-rights supporters are gullible twits but that all anti-gun legislators are intellectual stalwarts.

Gun-rights supporters succeeded this year in establishing uniform standards for concealed-carry permits and replacing a patchwork of unpredictable and often discriminatory local gun laws with a uniform state law.

So, the gun-grabbers' newest retort is that guns are somehow "above the law."

Anyone who believes that guns are above the law hasn't attempted to purchase one lately. The gun inside the locked case at your favorite gun shop has a serial number on file with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. That gun came from a federally licensed manufacturer who sold it to a federally licensed dealer who must keep a record of all transactions and who cannot sell it to you unless you clear state and federal background checks.

Once you legally purchase a gun, understand that federal firearms laws cover a mere 365 pages and state law adds numerous restrictions on carrying, possession, discharge, purchase and use.

However, this "above the law" claim is more likely an expression of the anti-gun lobby's frustration than an assertion that guns are unregulated.

Legislators were one step away from enacting concealed-carry laws when the Columbine tragedy occurred in 1999. Despite the facts that the Columbine assailants ignored numerous firearms laws and that concealed-carry permits had no rational relationship to the crime, many legislators concluded that the ensuing days were not the time to discuss any sort of gun legislation.

Gun foes predictably assumed that withdrawing those bills represented a confession that guns are the problem. The next year, the legislature prohibited Columbine-style strawman purchases, and SAFE Colorado passed a ballot initiative requiring background checks at gun shows. Gun foes wrongly interpreted these events as their mandate.

Even after Columbine, polls showed that while Coloradans wished to keep guns from criminals, their support of the individual right to self-defense - including concealed-carry - had not wavered.

Not only do anti-gun forces ignore these indicators, they also ignore the shrillness of their own tactics:

They accuse foes of voting to put "hidden guns in schools," encouraging the politically nave to believe that gun-rights supporters would stand at the schoolhouse door and stuff guns into students' backpacks.

They disseminate outrageous "facts." Propagandists claimed that concealed-carry would make it "easier to obtain a permit than to purchase a firearm" and would put 160,000 additional handguns on Colorado streets.

In fact, Sen. Ken Chlouber's concealed-carry bills - even before Columbine - prohibited guns in schools, except for security personnel. Anyone ineligible to purchase a gun cannot receive a permit, and only abject paranoia suggests that this legislation puts 160,000 more guns in circulation.

Obviously, fear-mongering foes of responsible gun ownership believe anyone who wants a concealed-carry permit has a Clint Eastwood complex and wakes up every morning craving a hot cup of coffee and a loaded .45.

Lastly, gun foes cannot understand why legislators don't pass storage laws but do prohibit lawsuits that make gun manufacturers liable for the acts of criminals.

Gun manufacturers are no more responsible for crime than automakers are responsible for drunk driving.

Responsible gun ownership does demand responsible storage, but criminalizing "unsafe" storage is risky business.

Jessica Carpenter's father trained her to shoot effectively. He also complied with California's safe storage law and kept his .357 Magnum out of reach of his children.

When a crazed man wielding a pitchfork broke into the Carpenter home in Merced, Calif., in August 2000, 14-year-old Jessica was helpless to defend her three younger sisters and brother. With her parents away and the phone line cut, Jessica's only choice was to run for help, but the attacker stabbed to death 9-year-old Ashley and 7-year-old John before help arrived.

Contrast that story with the readily available .38 revolver which which 72-year-old Emogene Zamarripa of Colorado Springs used to scare off an intruder - later linked to at least one rape - who crashed through her backdoor in November 2000.

The constitutional protections afforded gun ownership are equivalent to the guarantees of freedom of speech, right to worship and security from unreasonable search and seizure. Legislators who take those rights seriously must defend them, whether against well-intentioned objectors or mean-spirited attacks.

Sen. Mark Hillman's e-mail address is [email protected].
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