Letter: Let’s be #ColoradoStrong

On March 16, I boarded a plane from Atlanta to Colorado. That same day a man purchased a firearm three miles from my childhood home and proceeded to claim eight lives.

Less than a week later, a text message told me to shelter in place because of an active shooter at my neighborhood grocery store. Said one of the shoppers present at the Boulder King Soopers, “It seemed like all of us had imagined we’d be in a situation like this at some point in our lives.” How tragic that this has become an expectation for American life.

I too, had envisioned this scenario occurring in my own life, but I anticipated if it were to happen in my community, it would be in Steamboat. Full of joy and prosperity, the Yampa Valley also has its fair share of the hurt and struggling. Not without access to firearms, it isn’t beyond the realm of comprehension that Steamboat could be the scene for such atrocities.

I only moved from Steamboat to Boulder eight months ago, and yet the tragedy feels surprisingly personal. I feel like someone came in and said my home wasn’t worthy of going about its daily life last week. I’m sad and hurt and sometimes angry. That’s in a town of 100,000. How much more concentrated would that pain be in the Yampa Valley’s close-knit community of 15,000?

Events like these often ignite in us a great conviction to act. But how often have we vowed to take action, only to become so overwhelmed by the enormity of the task that we do nothing at all? So while a slew of actions can be taken to fight gun violence, I challenge you to pick just one today:

• Contact your local, state or federal representatives: demand that common sense gun laws be adopted.

• Join Routt County’s chapter of Moms Demand Action.

• Donate to support victims and their families or donate to defeat the NRA.

• Listen. Progress demands bipartisanship. We cannot dismiss those who disagree with us. Instead, we must try to understand their point of view.

Finally, let’s reach out to those who are hurting. We must avoid painting with broad brush strokes about our fellow American citizens and receive all with open arms. We need to prevent ostracizing members of our community or pushing individuals towards radicalization. In short, let’s take care of one another. Let’s be #Coloradostrong.

Ryan Ernstes


Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.