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Apr 1, 2013 8:32 PM by Andy Koen

NRA Day controversy highlights political divide

COLORADO SPRINGS - El Paso County Commissioners will vote this week whether to declare Thursday as Friends of the National Rifle Association Day. The resolution of appreciation is entirely symbolic.

"They're fabulous community partners," said commissioner Peggy Littleton, who doesn't mind people knowing that she carries a concealed weapon. Littleton says there are good reasons to celebrate the group.

"They secured a one-time grant of over $25,000 dollars for the Cheyenne Mountain shooting complex, they contribute to the Boy Scouts for shooting days, for the Junior ROTC programs in our high schools," she said.

But such a proclamation is unsettling to Monument resident Michaele Duncan.

"It raised a red flag," Duncan said.

She calls the trio of recently signed state gun laws reasonable and questions the need for a symbolic resolution supporting the NRA.

"The grass hasn't even grown over the graves yet for those poor children that were massacred in Newtown.... Sandy Hook," Duncan said.

Littleton points out that similar resolutions have been passed in 8 out of the past 10 years. Likewise, the public recognition is not limited to just groups that support firearms.

"We do it for the Humane Society, we do it for Single Parents Day, we do it for Earth Day, we do it for all kinds of citizen out reach groups here in El Paso County," Littleton said.

The ordeal highlights the high-level of level political rancor surrounding gun issues in our community.

UCCS political science professor Josh Dunn says, "it's hard to imagine something that's more controversial right now in Colorado."

In fact, any talk of firearms regulation will draw attention these days.

"These symbolic gestures can matter and of course people who don't like the NRA are going to be upset about it, people who do like the NRA are going to be enthusiastic about it, and support it," Dunn said.

The debate will only grow louder this week as President Obama comes to Denver to stump for national gun control laws. The El Paso County Board of County Commissioners meet Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9:00 a.m. at the Centennial Hall Auditorium at 200 S. Cascade Avenue in downtown Colorado Springs.

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