Dennis Gatchalian has lived in the United States since 1984, the year he left his home in the Philippines. He’s resided in Denver for 35 years. On May 18, he stood in front of the state Capitol …
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Dennis Gatchalian has lived in the Unites States since 1984, the year he left his home in the Philippines. He’s resided in Denver for 35 years.
On May 18, he stood in front of the state Capitol listening to speakers at the pro-gun event, Rally for Our Rights, which drew more than 100 people. His experiences growing up under a regime that instated martial law in the 1970s, and watching his brother arrested, jailed and sentenced to hard labor for possessing a leaflet, brought him to the steps of the Capitol that day.
“I know what oppression is and I can see the parallels here,” he said.
Throughout the day, a common theme emerged. Gun rights proponents believe the right to bear arms protects all other rights, and they worry issues including Colorado’s red flag law are one more step toward their biggest fear — a total disarming of the public.
Gatchalian was one of several attendees who spoke with Colorado Community Media or held signs stating their fear the nation is on a path toward disarming citizens.
The rally opened with a speech from Robert Wareham, the attorney leading recall efforts against Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock. Wareham maintained Colorado’s new red flag law is unconstitutional and gun grab legislation.
“This is going to be abused,” he said from the podium.
Wareham spoke to a crowd that booed Spurlock’s name and cheered at the mention of recalling him. Spurlock had violated their trust, they believed, by backing the law. Booths offered information on recall efforts against Spurlock and Gov. Jared Polis.
Judith Cody drove from her home in Colorado Springs to participate. Cody feels pro-gun citizens have compromised with gun control advocates on numerous issues, naming bump stock bans as one example, but that further gun restrictions like the red flag law, also called an Extreme Risk Protection Order, keep coming.
“We give and we give but it’s not enough,” she said.
Cody attended with her 20-year-old son, Thomas, who also dislikes ERPO and called it “the most relevant issue right now” in Colorado related to gun debates.
“I’m concerned that it takes due process out of the equation,” he said. “It puts you in a he said, she said situation.”
Thomas said his interest in guns is first because owning them is a constitutional right, second because they provide a method of self-defense and lastly because he enjoys sports shooting.
Throughout the day, Tony Genella of Centennial held a sign on one side reading “97.8% of mass shootings are in gun-free zones.” He’d like for teachers to carry weapons on school grounds if they want to and if they have undergone conceal carry classes.
“I strictly oppose gun-free zones,” he said. “I believe that our schools are the most vulnerable areas.”
The event took place 11 days after Colorado’s most recent school shooting, which left an 18-year-old senior at STEM School Highland Ranch, Kendrick Castillo, dead and eight others injured.
Speakers at the event urged citizens to support recalls of Spurlock, Polis and state Rep. Tom Sullivan and to push back against gun control measures like the red flag bill.
Cody listened, and like Gatchalian, worried the government would succeed a disarming people completely if people don’t protest.
“I know people say, `Oh, it never will,’” she said. “They’re trying.”
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