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Quiet Desperation

Amid gun glut, ‘This is Colorado’ says too much and too little


Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock said, “This is Colorado. Everybody has a gun.”

Seven words that create a mural. Should they be added to our license plates and the signs that welcome motorists entering the state?

You could hear it on the trains at the airport.

I would prefer almost anything else, but maybe Spurlock nailed it in the sad aftermath of the horrific, sad and depressing incident at the Copper Canyon Apartments in Highlands Ranch on Dec. 31.

One news agency reported, “Another mass shooting in Colorado.”

Of course, everybody doesn’t have a gun. I don’t.

We all make choices. I make my own, and generally I am the odd man out. I am neither better or smarter. I just don’t want a gun in the house.

That old Second Amendment doesn’t keep me feeling safe and warm at night. Luck does.

Bullets came through a common wall at Copper Canyon, and wounded neighbors who were minding their own business.

“He was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

I hear that over and over.

Jennifer and I talked about the shooting and about the sheriff.

The national spotlight was turned on and it was aimed at him.

He did a commendable job of sorting through the known facts, acknowledging all of the fallen officers, while showing both objectivity and compassion.

And in the middle of it, he said, “This is Colorado,” and the rest.

The reality is more guns than people.

Someone else, maybe my next-door neighbors, make up for me. My arsenal is made up of words.

I wish Spurlock could have said, “This is Colorado. Everybody has a dictionary.”

Or, “This is Colorado. Everybody owns an original work of art.”

I am not living in a dream world. I am trying to survive in a country that has a state (Michigan), that has a town, that has a bank, that offers a rifle if you open an account.

I have never been to Nucla, Colorado. I have been tempted because of its name. Take away the “N” and what do you have? My alma mater.

It has something else: a law that requires everyone in town to own a gun.

(Except for those who can’t afford them, conscientious objectors, felons, and those with mental or physical disabilities.)

Wouldn’t it be better if everyone in town were required to own a copy of Mozart’s “Jupiter Symphony”?

Save your exasperations with me over this. I’ve heard it.

“Freedom of” and “freedom from” are two different things, and we have both in Colorado. For now.

I had a cap gun when I was a kid. I liked the smell after I shot a cap.

(Do they still sell cap guns?)

Replica guns are sold, and they are supposed to have distinguishing orange tips. But they have been used during criminal activities. If you use a toy gun or a replica gun during a crime in Chicago, you are treated just like you would be if you had used a real gun.

There’s a new makeshift memorial every day. It’s an industry. It’s a reality.

I know someone who knows someone who was the first person shot in Las Vegas. She survived.

Was it fate? God? I think it was luck.

Orson Welles said, “Nobody gets justice. People only get good luck or bad luck.”

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.


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