If We Don’t Speak Out, Who Will?


Ava Flanell attended a rally promoted by Rocky Mountain Gun Owners at the Colorado State Capitol
ahead of testifying against HB24-1292 last month. (Image: National Association for Gun Rights)

“That would never happen” and if it does, “I’ll call the cops for help.” These are common expressions we hear in the gun industry as justifications for people who don’t think they need to own a firearm for protection. We typically shake our heads in disbelief someone could be so ignorant. Sadly, when it comes to politics and fighting for our Second Amendment rights, many gun owners suffer from a similar perspective deadly to the 2A cause.

In recent weeks, I’ve been running around in exhaustion trying to spread the word to gun owners and firearms retailers of the repercussions of the “assault weapons” ban bill hitting Colorado once again. Two types of people spoke the loudest to me: Those who deny it will happen, and those who rely on others to fight and save them. Congrats, gun owners! You officially rationalize like the anti-gun crowd. In a community that prides itself on self-reliance and being your own defender, this reduced outlook goes against everything this industry stands for.

I stopped by a gun store to drop off flyers, which alerted the public about the bill and encouraged everyone to testify against it. The older gentlemen behind the counter said, “Oh yeah, this is going on. Well, I hope ya’ll beat it.” He said this so nonchalantly as if his job didn’t depend on it. The sheer scope of the ban will decimate many shops leaving them with inventory they can’t sell and hurt overall sales on a scale they can’t appreciate until they go out of business.

The bill (HB24-1292 “Prohibit Certain Weapons Used in Mass Shootings”) doesn’t just ban “scary” ARs and AKs, it will ban the majority of semi-automatic firearms. At big-box stores that sell much more than just guns, I was told they can’t have flyers on their counter as it goes against “corporate policy” and in the end, “guns just don’t bring in that much revenue anyways.” As for citizens, many applauded my efforts, but told me they don’t have the time to testify at Colorado State Capitol hearing. To say I felt defeated by my own would be an understatement.

Doing Something

The truth is, I’m like most people out there. I don’t always understand political jargon, I wasn’t getting paid to spend days and hours fighting this and every time I go up to testify, I still get nervous and occasionally second guess what I said later. What I do know is sitting idly wasn’t the answer.

My parents opened a gun store in Colorado in the late ’80s and it’s been our family business since. My life and livelihood have revolved around guns for 11 years. Selfishly, I couldn’t let these bills pass without a fight. Unfortunately, the majority of people don’t have this same mentality. There are approximately over 2,500 federal firearms licenses (FFLs) in Colorado.

Considering this bill was introduced to put companies out of business, I don’t understand how it’s not in their best interest to close the doors for that day and testify. A similar bill passed in Washington last year and it has decimated stores. On the day of the hearing in Colorado, only about 30 gun-related businesses showed up, which included an optic company, and a few other firearms accessory companies.

People are exhausted fighting for our Constitutional Rights, especially one that should never be up for debate, but the fight is truly never ending. Many politicians and federal organizations are slimy, bypassing federal laws or redefining laws illegally. Sadly, they know it’s illegal just as much as we do, but by the time the bill has a chance of reaching the Supreme Court, it will be years and only the most extreme overreach even makes it there. These politicians get away with overreaching authority daily, with almost no consequences.

Resist, Run Away Or Embrace Complacency?

Some people have said plainly they won’t comply regardless of what new gun legislation passes. Though I’m not knocking this approach, I hate to see good people criminalize themselves. And, in most cases (at least for now) they’re not currently trying to ban possession, just banning all future transfers. This means once you pass away, everything you have must be surrendered or destroyed. Bills like this are out to pass an end-of-life on the 2A. Future generations will not be able to get firearms at this rate.

A good majority of folks have said they’ll just move to another state. Unfortunately, no state is safe from this disease, especially when most gun owners aren’t taking action to fight. You can move and buy yourself a few more years, but if we don’t take a stand, no place will be free for long. Politicians are literally copying bills from anti-gun states like California, switching the state name, and pushing it out.

Lastly, a lot of gun owners feel that if they’re donating to a pro-gun organization, they don’t have to fight because someone is doing it for them. I won’t speak poorly of Second Amendment organizations helping the cause — because a lot of them are doing us a huge favor on a national level. On a local level, though, many of them don’t send a single representative to testify and/or rally people to gather at the Capitol.

With this being an election year, I’m concerned the “don’t get involved” attitude will also cost us the presidency as well. Complacency, burying your head in the sand, and depending on others to fight is the same as surrendering your rights.

Time To Step Up!

Gun owners, it’s up to us to fight this battle. There’s strength in numbers. A wave of people coming to defend their rights has an immense sway over legislators. They know their hopes of reelection are on the line, but if only a few people show to speak against it, our rights are easy to vote away.

We’ve all been taught to keep a low profile and stay out of politics so we don’t alienate potential customers. In this day and age, we need to come together and take back our country and rights. We must rise to the occasion to grow and educate the community so we can defeat legislation at the local level. This is where the gun control movement is currently having the biggest effect, according to Rally For Our Rights Owner and Founder Lesley Hollywood.

“Industry professionals need to pay attention to state legislation because that’s where the damage is being done,” she said. “Federally we still have gridlock on most gun legislation, which is why the gun grabbers are so focused on the states. Bills are coming to our state legislators pre-written by gun control lobby groups. People also need to figure out where to get connected. They might need to do a little legwork to figure out who their smaller local groups are, but they’re the ones who are paying attention.”

Additionally, Hollywood recommends getting in touch with local legislators — especially pro-gun ones.

“Call them and talk to them. Create allies,” she said. “The government loves to keep the people and the politicians separated, they make it intimidating, but it isn’t. They’re people just like us and they need us as much as we need them.”

JD Murphree, owner and founder of Triple J Armory in Littleton, Colo., mailed a letter to over 2,000 FFLs in Colorado, explaining why the Assaults Weapon Ban bill, along with many other anti-gun bills, is dangerous. He also included information for Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO), an organization that has been fighting for Colorado. Murphree shared what spurred him into action.

“I felt like I needed to do something to inspire my fellow license holders to speak up and take action. My letter was an opportunity to educate folks on what’s happening at the Capitol when it comes to our 2A rights,” he said. “Unfortunately, we can be our own worst enemy. Too often, I find myself with a handful of other shops being the only voice in the community when it comes to these serious pieces of legislation. I’m not afraid to carry the burden, but we have power in numbers, and we need folks to turn out.”

Like Murphree and Hollywood, it’s important to think outside the box and get active. We must be the change we want to see and know we have more of a voice together. Don’t expect others to fight this for you. Join us in standing up to legislators who want to bankrupt our industry. We can preserve the Second Amendment if we just have courage to be active and vocal in our communities.