Craig resident proposes ordinance requiring heads of household to own rifles
April 24, 2013
Craig — Craig resident Craig Rummel appeared before the Craig City Council on Tuesday night with a unique proposal.
Citing years of attacks by the Colorado General Assembly on the industries that drive Craig and Moffat County's economy — namely coal, power and hunting — Rummel asked City Council members to consider passing an ordinance requiring heads of household within Craig city limits to maintain a modern sporting rifle capable of accepting high-capacity magazines.
A draft of Rummel's proposal included exemptions for those who are not physically or mentally capable of operating a firearm, are financially unable to afford purchasing a firearm, have been convicted of a felony, or oppose owning a firearm for religious or other personal reasons.
The immediate question on the minds of council members was how such a law would be enforced.
Rummel said he did not draft the ordinance to be enforced but to send a message to the state and nation.
"Coal, the power plant and hunting pretty well sums up what we offer here in Craig, America," Rummel said. "For too long, the state legislature has been hammering us, and they're destroying our economy. Our voices are not being heard, but if we pass an ordinance, it will go viral, and then they'll be forced to listen to us."
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Despite their collective agreement with Rummel's intended message, council members mostly were unified in their desire not to abuse the power of their office by passing an ordinance for the sole purpose of sending a message.
Council member Ray Beck questioned why the same message couldn't be sent in the form of a resolution, which is more of a statement of belief than an enforceable law.
Rummel cited the Moffat County Commission's recent trip to Denver to testify against Senate Bill 13-252, which would increase renewable energy mandates on rural electricity cooperatives from 10 to 25 percent by 2020.
"We have tried the traditional routes, and we have good representation at the state in Sen. (Randy) Baumgardner and Rep. (Bob) Rankin, but the Western Slope doesn't have the votes in Denver," Rummel said. "We need to think outside of the box and let the rest of the country know we are not in lockstep with Denver."
City Council member Tony Bohrer, who also manages Elkhorn Outfitters in Craig, agreed with Rummel, saying this year's passage of gun control laws in the state is fueling a boycott of Colorado by out-of-state hunters.
"We're not going to be affected this year, and we're large enough that we may never be affected, but the smaller outfitters that don't have the marketing budget are going to feel the effects (of gun control legislation) three or four years down the road," Bohrer said. "I'm all for an ordinance because at the end of the day there's still going to be 20,000 head of elk at Black Mountain, and this would give me another thing to use to promote Craig."
Bohrer was the only council member who voiced outright support for Rummel's proposal. Fellow council member Don Jones, on the other hand, questioned whether the city was prepared for the kind of media attention Rummel was after.
"The state of Colorado is the laughingstock of the country," Jones said. "We've passed an amendment legalizing marijuana that violates federal law, and we've passed gun laws that violate the Second Amendment. I don't think passing an ordinance requiring all residents to own an AK-47 is the type of attention Craig wants."
But Rummel said council needed to step back from the emotional side of the debate.
"This is about more than just guns, this is about protecting our economy," Rummel said. "This is an opportunity for us to protect and defend our economy, culture and heritage of Northwest Colorado."
The council did not take action on Rummel's proposal, but it didn't close the door on the idea, either.
"There is enough support up here of what you are saying, and I think there's room for you to convince us," Craig Mayor Terry Carwile said. "The bottom line is we don't need to make a decision tonight, but you have some work to do."
Joe Moylan can be reached at 970-875-1794 or firstname.lastname@example.org