CASTLE ROCK—Sedalia knife shop owner Hal Van Herke on Tuesday posted a Declaration of Business Independence on Facebook saying he would reopen CastleGate Knife and Tool Tuesday in defiance of Governor Polis’ stay-at-home order.
Van Herke’s declaration says in part:
“WHEREAS: Small businesses have carried the burden of this effort more heavily than special interests, large corporations and major banks who once again received preferential treatment and largess from the Federal Government at the further cost of small business tax payers, and
WHEREAS: Non-essential Government, Academic, and Corporate staff continue to remain unconscionably fully paid at the same time that Small Business, the Self Employed and the Unemployed suffer, and
WHEREAS: Our attempts at petition and righteous redress, to Our Government has fallen on uncaring ears, and in some cases has been actively suppressed, and
WHEREAS: We refuse to become second-class citizens, beholden to the entitled class for our safety, freedom, and wellbeing, and
WHEREAS: We have the ability to operate our business in such a manner as to reduce and mitigate the risk to our Community, Customers, and Staff, and to adjust operations in a responsible and balanced manner commensurate with local conditions.”
“What we’re going to be doing is have our staff wearing masks. We’re going to ask our customers to wear masks. If they don’t have a mask we’re going to have masks available they can purchase at a reasonable price. We’re also asking them to use hand sanitizer before they enter the store and then when they leave,” said Van Herke. “We feel along with controlling the number of people in the store and social distancing that should provide an adequate guard against transmission of the virus.”
In an interview Tuesday with Complete Colorado Van Herke said small business in Colorado has been disproportionately and unnecessarily discriminated against by the government.
“I felt like it was important to for somebody to stand up along with other businesses and say we’re not going to be discounted in this and we’re not going to sit back and watch our life’s work destroyed while many of the people making decisions are still being paid their full time salary while they’re sitting at home,” said Van Herke.
CastleGate specializes in pocket knives, outdoor knives as well as multi-tools, rescue tools, hatchets and other edged weapons.
Located on Main Street in Sedalia, just a few miles west of Castle Rock, Van Herke said he opened the retail shop three years ago after operating online out of his home for the preceding three years.
Van Herke learned the knife collecting and sales trade in Japan while working in the telecom industry for IBM from 2013 to 2015.
“That’s where I learned the art of blade collecting and buying and selling,” said Van Herke. “We have at times made our own knives, but what we do mostly is resell other name brand makers as well as custom makers from all over the world.”
He and his wife of 23 years, Linnea, live in Castle Rock.
Van Herke shut down the retail shop when the virus hit and said he was in the process of revamping his website to more accurately reflect the company’s inventory, so the shutdown had a greater impact.
“It was kind of it a double whammy for us in terms of bad timing. We had already been in the process of redoing our website to more accurately reflect on a real time basis what we have in stock in the store and in our warehouse,” said Van Herke. “There was a lot of uncertainty in terms of how the shutdown might impact our customers and employees and the local community.”
Van Herke acknowledges the risks of defying the Governor’s order, but believes he has justification for doing so, including the Second Amendment. Governor Polis excluded firearms retailers from the shutdown order, defining firearms manufacturing and sales as essential.
Van Herke points out that the Second Amendment protects all “arms” not just firearms, and believes this means edged weapons as well.
“We believe that we are an essential business,” Van Herke said. “We believe that the Second Amendment protects the right to keep and bear arms and that includes not only firearms but also knives and other means of self defense.”
In his declaration, Van Herke quotes President Ronald Reagan’s farewell address of January 11, 1989 in which Reagan says, “I hope we once again have reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts.”
“I believe that we’re heading in the direction of an advisory capacity of coaching and encouraging responsible actions and then spreading accurate information about what needs to be done,” Van Herke said. “We feel like we’ve acted responsibly and intelligently from the beginning. We just don’t feel like we need the government telling us at every turn what we have to get right.”