Tom's Activism for Gun Control

Tom Became a Gun Control Lobbyist

In 2000 Tom took a one-year leave of absence from his job as a program manager at the Colorado Department of Transportation. He worked full time as the Director of Political Affairs (a lobbyist) for SAFE Colorado (Sane Alternatives to the Firearms Epidemic), a group that advocates for increased regulation of firearms. For three months he lobbied the State Legislature for passage of a number of gun control bills, including one to close the gun show loophole. He also lobbied against pro-gun bills that unfortunately were introduced in the aftermath of Columbine.

The gun control bills were moderate ones--not designed to ban or confiscate guns, but instead to keep them out of the hands of kids and criminals. Unfortunately, most of the tougher gun control bills were killed by the Legislature--even though two independent polls showed overwhelming support for these bills by the citizens of Colorado. The only ones that passed were the ones supported by the NRA.

Especially disappointing to Tom was the fact that Columbine's State Representative, Don Lee, was opposed to most of the gun control measures.

Taking it to the Ballot

In response to the Legislature's failure to pass these bills, Tom and SAFE Colorado decided to put the most important of those bills on the November 2000 ballot for the voters to decide. That voter initiative was designed to "close the gun show loophole." That is, it requires all buyers at gun shows to undergo a criminal background check. Previously, only federally licensed gun dealers have to put customers through a background check. The many "private" sellers (unlicensed sellers) don't have to put their customers through a background check--it's "cash & carry," "no questions asked." All four guns used at Columbine were obtained from unlicensed sellers at a gun show.

SAFE Colorado obtained over 110,00 signatures on petitions, far more than the 62,000 required by law to get this issue on the November 2000 ballot--as Amendment 22. And we did it using only volunteers to collect the signatures--over 2,000 of them!

Along the way the gun lobby challenged Amendment 22 in a number of courts--but they lost every single legal challenge. The voters got to decide the issue!

Despite hundreds of thousands of dollars spent by the NRA in opposing this voter initiative, Amendment 22 passed overwhelmingly--70% to 30%! On election night, at the victory party, Tom wore Daniel's tennis shoes--to symbolize that he was doing his work in Daniel's name.

Activism Following the Election

Since the successful election, Tom has returned to his job at the Colorado Department of Transportation. He has not been very active, largely because of his full time job, and his need to refocus more attention on his family, particularly his newly adopted daughter from China.

Tom serves on the board of directors of the Colorado Ceasefire Capitol Fund and occasionally does some public speaking, but he must be very selective because of his time constraints.

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