My home town of Boulder is about to define me as a criminal if I do not disarm or move.
Let this column serve as a public notice, I will not comply.
I was raised in Colorado and moved to Boulder in 1984, graduated from CU there and stayed. I proudly represented Boulder on the RTD Board of Directors. My late daughter rests in a Boulder cemetery. I plan to be laid to rest beside her when my time comes. All that to say my roots are deep in my hometown.
But to be who I am, to be true to my values I hold dear, I must choose to leave or go to jail.
Boulder prides itself on promoting inclusion, diversity and tolerance. And there was a time it lived up to those now-empty words — a time when Boulder was diverse enough to welcome such opposites as the beatnik, Buddhist Naropa Institute and Soldier of Fortune magazine.
But it’s getting very clear Boulder doesn’t want my type in their lily-white, homogeneous town.
Boulder City Council is on the verge of passing a sweeping anti-gun ordinance, laughably called an assault weapons ban. So loosely written, this ordinance would ban the first gun I ever owned, a simple .22 caliber rifle, the same type most farm boys get on their twelfth birthday. Its sin? It can be fitted with a pistol-grip or a folding stock.
I understand the fear and bigotry coming from City Council. I used to be like that myself. In younger days I was a proud member of Handgun Control Inc., now called the Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence.
Only when a dear family member went “completely nuts” and bought what Boulder considers an assault weapon did I start a multi-year journey to slowly understand how hateful I was to an entire group of people. It would have been easier for me if he’d have come out as gay than come out of the gun closet.
The Anti-Defamation League and The Gay and Lesbian Fund sponsors a program plastered throughout Boulder schools call “No Place For Hate.” They ask students to make a resolution of respect: “I will seek to gain understanding of those who are different from myself.”
But Boulder’s council has done nothing to understand the culture and values of gun owners and little to understand much more than the cosmetic aspects of guns.
Boulder has become a place for hate.
Should this ordinance pass, it will require me to permanently move my guns out of Boulder. What a spectacularly privileged, Boulderesque idea. Only in Boulder and Aspen is there an assumption that you’re wealthy enough to have a second home or storage in another city.
You can’t keep your soon-to-be-illegal guns at a friend’s house in another city either. The new 2013 anti-gun state laws say you can only do that for three days before you’ll both be criminals.
If I can’t afford to move my guns out, which I can’t, I am to destroy them or surrender them. There is a possibility council might take pity and let me keep my own property by creating the state’s first database of people whose values they do not understand or respect.
Government doesn’t register guns, they register gun owners, who many consider a hate group. I find this possibility perhaps the most troubling aspect of Boulder’s whole symbolic exercise. Registering a group of people you find potentially dangerous isn’t new. Ask Japanese-Americans during World War 2.
I remember a time when fearful people were seriously suggesting registering AIDS patients. There are plenty today who fear the beliefs of those who own hijabs. Many want to ban hijabs and register those who wear them.
Of course, Boulder feels what they are doing is completely different. Their registration is about public safety — just like the others.
It’s easy to tolerate groups you understand or sympathize with. The true test of Boulder-style tolerance and inclusion is with groups you can’t relate to or find threatening. Used to be homosexuals. Today it’s gun owners.
Let it be known, like those who refused to go to the back of the bus, I will not surrender or destroy my guns, nor will I place my name on a government watch list.
Jon Caldara is president of the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Denver.