Apr 4, 2013 8:30 PM by Andy Koen
COLORADO SPRINGS - The vote was may have been symbolic but the debate was very real. Before El Paso County Commissioners voted to unanimously support a resolution declaring Thursday as Friends of the NRA Day, several members of the public made emotional statements to both encourage and discourage the vote.
Michaele Duncan adamantly opposed the idea of celebrating a group that is tied to the gun lobby.
"I wonder if Sandy Hook families would support the NRA's objection to background checks and reasonable gun legislation that are no more intrusive than registering our automobiles or getting a license to drive a car," Duncan told the commissioners.
Others, including many National Rifle Association members, felt like their organization is being unfairly demonized.
Sharon Thompson, a retired teacher, praised the Friends of the NRA for their youth education program which encourages children to report guns to adults.
"I'm a direct person that took a gun away from a student (because) a student was trained by their program to tell an adult if someone brought a gun to school."
There was plenty of talk about the Constitution from both sides.
"I honestly do not believe that our forefathers and interpreters today mean any citizen can own any weapon with any capacity magazine," a speaker named Judy said.
"Our founding fathers never envisioned the weapons that our government has today," Patrick Carter said. "The Second Amendment is the Second Amendment because it guarantees our First Amendment freedoms."
Despite the sometimes heated rhetoric, the commissioners spoke favorably of the debate.
"We talk about having a divided community, we absolutely do," Commissioner Darryl Glenn noted. "But when you start treading on the constitutional issues, matters of statewide concerns, this is something that legislature should have put out and allowed people to vote on."
The commissioners have voted to recognize the Friends with public proclamations for nine of the past 11 years. The Friends also present the Sheriff's Office with a $3,500 check at the meeting.