A Comprehensive Guide to Arguing for Gun Control

Every time there’s a mass shooting the Right Wing trolls take to the internet in droves to push their gun fetishes with slogans no longer than what can fit on a bumper sticker that are supposed to be irrefutable arguments against gun control, so here are their arguments and some simple counter arguments to make against them.

“I need my gun to protect me from the government.”

Saying this is essentially saying that you’re willing to go on a shooting spree if an election doesn’t go your way.  You are not the sort of person who should be trusted with a sharp pencil, much less a semi-automatic weapon.  You can double down on this when they start saying they need their gun to protect against the government coming to take away their guns; circular logic at its finest.

“Guns are the only protection against government tyranny!”

Really?  Is that why the governments of Canada, the UK, Germany, France, Sweden, Denmark, India, Australia, Japan, etc… virtually every industrialized nation on earth are run by ruthless dictators who rule with an iron fist?  Oh, they’re not?  Then shut up.

“Banning guns doesn’t do any good.  Look at drugs.  People will still get them.”

Oh they will?  See every other nation on earth for a example of how gun control has worked.  America is the only nation that deals with massive gun violence and mass shootings on a regular basis.

“Cars kill people.  Should we ban cars!?”

Good point.  And look what we do with cars.  People have to have licenses, registration, pass both written and practical tests, renew their registration annually, and have liability insurance for the damage cars may do.

“The 2nd Amendment guarantees my right to bear arms.”

It does not specify what kind of arms, however.  Why not allow you to own nuclear arms?  Or at the very least rocket launchers and machine guns?  Because if you need an AR-15 then why don’t you need a rocket launcher?  Especially if your argument is that you need to take on the government?  But that’s absurd, as is the need for a semi-automatic rifle that has the ability to use high-capacity magazines.

“I need it for hunting.”

My dad calls ARs “Barbie guns” because they’re all for show.  No decent hunter hunts with an AR-15.  If you want to track a wounded deer over a half mile then be my guest, but if you’re serious about hunting you should be using a .270 or bigger because you want to knock the animal down and not have it suffer for an hour while it bleeds out.  You also don’t need to fire 30 rounds at it unless… well… you shouldn’t be hunting if you do.

“Cain killed Abel with a rock.  People will find a way!”

Tell you what, when someone walks into a crowded theater and kills 28 people with a rock then we’ll talk about rock control.  Until then, shut up.

“It’s a mental health problem, not a gun problem.”

Every nation on earth has mentally ill people.  I guarantee China has more than we do.  Do you think that America is special because we somehow have a particularly homicidal population, or is it that our homicidal maniacs can go down to the corner store and pick up a semi-automatic weapon and 3,000 rounds of ammo and take out their frustration on the nearest class of middle-schoolers?

“Only a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun.”

How many shootings have been stopped by good guys with guns?  And before we start talking about arming everyone, let’s imagine the chaos of dozens of armed people walking around after shots have been fired, not knowing who the shooter is, each looking at one another with guns drawn.  The potential for more casualties skyrockets.  Having done my share of shoot-houses, I can tell you that it’s chaotic enough when you’re all wearing the same damn uniform.  Now imagine a bunch of armed strangers trying to instantly guess who the bad guy with a gun is.  Yeah.  Idiotic.  And that’s before the cops show up.

“If we take away all the guns then only the bad guys will have guns.”

First of all, refer back to my previous points about EVERY other industrialized nation in the world to see that this is just not true.  Secondly, nobody is talking about taking away all the guns.  We’re talking about taking away guns that serve no other purpose but to cause massive human casualties and imposing licensing, background checks, and other measures to mitigate harm done.  We’re talking about denying guns to people on the terrorist watchlist (and yes, white supremacist organizations should be on that watchlist) and those with violent criminal backgrounds, including domestic abusers.

“If you deny guns to people on the terrorist watchlist, won’t they know they’re on the watchlist then?”

Couldn’t they just try to get on a plane and find out that way?  This way you’re at least preventing them from buying a gun.


You have to realize that the majority of gun arguments stem from the fact that someone just really likes guns.  They’ll never be able to come up with a reasonable, cogent argument for why they need most of them; it’s just what they like.  It’s a hobby.  They sit around and fantasize about what they’d do if someone broke into their house.  And when we have massive loss of life and start talking about tighter restrictions on firearms, they feel their hobby is threatened, so they lash out.  The problem is that their arguments have no merit and it’s time to put them to bed as they’re getting tired and old and their hobby doesn’t supersede the need for safe schools, theaters, concerts, nightclubs, churches, malls, shopping centers, and virtually every other public space in America.

HD5 Candidate Forum Intro
My Story: Who I Am

Every person running for office will tell you that they grew up middle class, whether they’re Paul Ryan or Nancy Pelosi, whether they grew up with a trust fund and buildings at college campuses named after their family or they were actually in a modest 2-story house with parents who worked 9-to-5 jobs.  I, however, did not.  I grew up somewhere between working class and poor, depending on the time.  My parents are the heroes of my upbringing.  My dad worked 80-hour weeks in factories, starting out as a line worker before he was able to put his mechanical genius to work as a maintenance man and move up through skill and incredibly hard work.  He still worked 80 hour weeks (still does) but got paid a little better.  My mom worked retail jobs that never paid her what she was worth, and it seems like every day she would come home with another story about a shoplifter or a horrible customer, but she was always there for us.  There were layoffs that would land us on welfare and food stamps.  There were lean times where jobs were harder to come by, especially in the 90’s when manufacturing took a big hit.  My parents went without for more birthdays and Christmases than they’ll ever tell me so that their kids could have a good life.  One of the Army values is “Selfless Service”; my parents are the absolute embodiment of that.  They are heroes to me and my brothers.  They taught us to respect everyone on the content of their character and that’s been our guiding light for our entire lives.  That and a love of dogs.

I went on to college through a ROTC scholarship where I met Mary Katherine, and she’s been my best friend and partner ever since.  She’s stuck with me through deployments and hard times, through wars and grad schools (both of us) and this campaign.  She’s tough.  Really tough.  And I love her with all my heart.

I deployed to Iraq in 2007 as a Cavalry Scout during the Surge and got blown up by a rocket (technically two rockets but the first one didn’t do much).  It gave me serious back, hip and knee problems but I continued to serve for another 9 years until repeated airborne jumps and ruck marches finally led a doctor to pronounce that I was one bad jump away from being in a wheelchair.  That led to my medical retirement.  In that time I also led tactical PSYOP Detachments, including in Afghanistan with Marine Special Operations Command.  One of my last jobs was to establish the Headquarters Company for 1st Special Forces Command, which involved bringing together a massive number of Special Operations Soldiers from various branches conducting operations on 5 different continents.

When I retired from the Army I moved back to Colorado and settled here in Denver.  We got involved in local movements and causes and made it to rallies and marches and neighborhood meetings.  Mary Katherine got a job with Girl Scouts of Colorado working with underprivileged girls.  I enrolled in grad school at University of Denver using the GI Bill to get my Masters in Public Policy.  I also worked in the Capitol during the 2017 session and saw the Legislature in all its dysfunctional glory.

I don’t have a specific moment that prompted me to run for office.  Instead it’s a conglomeration of various reasons and moments and facts that when taken together made it necessary for me to stand up and put myself out there.  I’m tired of politicians who just speak in platitudes and condescend to the voters but don’t actually stand for anything.  I’m tired of seeing bills with 90% public approval being shot down because lobbying groups are paying legislators to kill the bills.  I’m tired of our government not representing the people and politicians being unwilling to align themselves with what they believe in because they’re looking out for future careers instead of the needs of their constituents.  That last one is a big one for me.  This is the election I care about.  I’m not trying to become a U.S. Congressman down the road, or mayor or governor or Secretary of State.  I am running for Colorado House of Representatives for District 5.  I’m interested in doing what’s best for my people, not in trying to hedge my bets on what may be better for my future political aspirations.

So that’s who I am, that’s where I come from.  I don’t have a distinguished pedigree of politicos, I don’t have a big name or a recognizable dynasty.  I’m a regular Coloradan who lives in a working class neighborhood who loves his city and his state.  I grew up with a working family and I know the struggles of our low income Coloradans.  I’ll work to make life better for those at the lower end of the economic spectrum and safeguard the gains we’ve made for the middle class, because that’s where we all want to be.  Thanks for getting to know me.  Hopefully I can get to know you.

TABOR: How a Tax Evasion Scam is Still Hurting Our State

TABOR, or the “Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights” makes Colorado unique for having the most restrictive tax legislation in the country.  We have one of the strongest economies in the U.S., but we have some of the worst roads and infrastructure and our state’s budget is 48th in comparison to our economy.  In fact CDOT hasn’t seen a budget increase since 1992 (the year TABOR went into effect).  Our schools continue to struggle for funding and are routinely undercut resulting in sub-par rates compared to where they should be for a state with our economic strength.  Even though we have under 2% unemployment, we still can’t seem to find the money for roads and schools- the most basic public services.

This all began with a man named Douglas Bruce, a Californian landlord who moved to Colorado because he wanted to find a place with lower taxes and turn his new state into a conservative paradise for himself.  He later became a slumlord here, managing low-rent properties where he was routinely sued for failing to meet his obligations as a landlord.  Bruce is a known racist, once referring to migrant workers as “illiterate peasants” on the House floor, and to top it all off he’s a convicted felon, having been convicted – of all things- of tax evasion.  So how did this man craft the policy that restricts Colorado from using its tax dollars like every other state government?  Well, essentially, he swindled us.

Bruce ran multiple campaigns to convince voters that all TABOR would do would be to give them a voice in how their tax dollars were spent.  But in reality, what it did was much more sinister.  TABOR prevents the state from raising any taxes without putting it to the voters, and it does it in such a way that it almost guarantees that no tax increase will ever be passed.  This is great for slumlords like Bruce, but bad for everyone else in the state. Now it means that the only way the state can generate increased revenue is to either pass “sin taxes” on items like liquor and cannabis, or to institute large fees on things like car tags and drivers’ licenses that severely impact average Coloradans.   Even with these the state is running short on cash.  Budget cuts on things like higher education mean that more and more money must come from tuition, and we may see Colorado become the first state to end state financial aid to students because of it.  Of course education is a negative thing to people like Bruce, who rely on people being uneducated to further their agendas.  It also prevents us from being able to use our boom times to prepare for inevitable economic downturns, as we’ve seen during the rough years during the Great Recession.  Instead, if the state takes in too much revenue they have to give it back in the form of small checks.  Call me crazy, but I’d rather have decent roads than a check for $25.

It’s time to overturn this disastrous bill and restore sanity to the way Colorado does business.  We need to be able to prepare for economic downturns and invest in our state, our youth and our infrastructure.  We need to ensure that our public institutions of higher learning stay open.  We need to be able to provide for the health and welfare of our people.  We need to stop being taken in by charlatans and criminals who are really only looking out for themselves and take us down for their own self-interest.  It’s time for Colorado to take care of itself.  It’s time to say goodbye to TABOR.

Even the Taliban Hate Powerpoint

I had just arrived in Afghanistan with my Tactical MISO Detachment in Herat City and my predecessor was showing me around.  We were out with our Provincial Adviser Team (PAT) at a Taliban Reconciliation Ceremony.  So my replacement, Ethan, and I showed up with our interpreter at the ceremony to find ourselves and our PAT (a lone Lieutenant Colonel) in a large room amongst nothing but a few Afghan Policemen and about 250 former Taliban.  The rest of our Detachment was pulling security.  The awkwardness in the room was palpable.  Most of the former Taliban had never been this close to an American.  They ranged from ages 15 to 60.

We took our seats and the ceremony began.  The governor of Herat Province began with a speech about strength through unity and peace, and as he spoke I saw many of the younger men looking and whispering in our direction.  They kept trying to mean-mug us.  We just ignored it and listened to the speech, or our interpreter’s rendition of it.  As the governor wrapped up another man got up to speak.  He was some sort of adviser to the governor and he had a Powerpoint presentation to deliver.

The Powerpoint was the driest, most devoid of life presentation I’ve been witness to.  It was terrible.  Most of the former Taliban grandfathers were asleep.  The younger ones, though, kept rolling their eyes.  One of them looked our way and I rolled my eyes back.  He thought that was the funniest thing he’d ever seen so he started pretending to sleep, so I did the same thing.  Then I asked my interpreter to write “Boring” in Pashto on my notebook but when I showed it to them they shook their head and I then realized they couldn’t read.  So they kept making faces and telling their friends to get in on the joke.

After the ceremony was over we all went our separate ways.  We went and spoke with the Governor and Police Chief and Elders who were helping with the Reintegration, and the kids went with their fathers and grandfathers back to the refreshments tables.  But I believe that most people are just people.  Demonizing one another doesn’t contribute to anything lasting or effective.  It dehumanizes us and makes us into monsters, and when you treat someone like a monster they’re more likely to behave that way.  At the same time I believe there is real evil in this world, but most of us are just people who, if they’re on the wrong side, just got duped into it.  But we can connect; at least we all hate Powerpoint.

A Renters’ Bill of Rights

There are few things in Denver that could impact so many aspects of the economy as much as changing the power dynamic between tenants and landlords.  So many of our homeless can’t find a place to live because they have an eviction on their record, and those things stay on there like bad credit.  It seems like all the cards are in the hands of the landlords and we have thousands of people in Denver seeking housing which makes tenants even more desperate.  The tenants don’t have any choice but to go along with whatever the landlord does or seek other housing, which may land them right back in a similar situation.

That’s what I’m introducing my Renters’ Bill of Rights.  It changes the time from when a rent payment is late and when a landlord can evict a tenant from 3 days to 7.  That gives a tenant time to get paid at the end of the week and hopefully make their rent payment, or find another arrangement.  In addition, currently a landlord needs to give a tenant only 10 days notice before raising the rent.  I want to change that to 60 days to give people the ability to find another place to live or get the money to pay for the new price.   Between these two changes I think we can really give tenants some standing to deal with their landlords and prevent unwarranted evictions.

Neighborhood Power

Since the November elections I’ve learned about a great leader in this country: Danica Roem.  She’s the transgender woman who won a state Delegate race in Virginia against a vehemently anti-trans incumbent and she’s become a hero of mine.  Not because she ran as a trans woman against a horrible bigot, or that her inspirational story will inspire others to be who they are, though those are great accomplishments that are going to change lives.  No, what makes her a hero to me is that she ran a campaign on neighborhood issues that mattered to local voters despite the temptation to run an identity-based, highly charged campaign.

Even when her opponent attacked her gender identity, she remained focused on the things that mattered to her community: traffic congestion, water pipes, infrastructure.  Things that matter to everyone matter regardless of race, gender, religion or sexual preference.  These are neighborhood issues and Danica ran on neighborhood power.  Her campaign organized over 70,000 doors knocked with hundreds of volunteers.  They got out and talked about issues that everyone cared about.

That’s what we’re doing.  We are talking about our roads, we’re talking about the affordability of housing, we’re talking about a living wage, we’re talking about healthcare and reproductive rights and education and we’re doing it door to door on the porches around Denver.  We love this city and we want it to be a place that everyone can afford to live in.  That’s what people care about and that’s what this campaign is about.  Neighborhood power.

Healthcare for All: It Works

My brother was recently in Ecuador visiting his husband’s family.  While they were there they went on a bike ride where he managed to go tumbling headfirst over the handlebars and break his hand.  Of course he was worried about going to the doctor because he didn’t want to lose a whole day of their vacation and, as a young millennial, he doesn’t have a ton of money saved up for medical bills.  When he brought up his concerns to his husband he just laughed and said “It’s no problem, we’ll be in and out in no time.  And our healthcare here is government run so you don’t pay.”  Sure enough, they went in, he was seen within 30 minutes, got a cast, X-rays, and was on his way in under 2 hours.

Contrast that to the United States, where a 26-year-old man recently died because his GoFundMe came up $50 short to pay for his insulin.  I’ve heard it all.  “We’re too big to provide healthcare for everyone”.  Or, when we try to do it at a state level, “We’re too small”.  What’s our excuse?  Single payer healthcare is cheaper than our current system.  It’s proven by simply looking at every single payer system on the face of the earth.  Every country with single payer spends less on healthcare per patient than we do, and yet we still have more sick people per capita than they do.  While taxes to pay for it go up, your insurance payments go away, so while you may be paying an additional $50 in taxes, you’re not paying $250 in insurance (or dramatically more, depending on who you are, what your plan is, how big your family is, etc…).

It seems today that the GOP is about to give a $1.4 trillion tax cut to the wealthiest Americans at a time when the rich are doing better than they ever have before.  That’s utterly ludicrous to me.  We don’t need tax deductible private jets.  We need healthcare.  And we need it now.  If we can afford to add $1.4 trillion to the deficit (and we can’t) we certainly don’t need to be doing it to give tax breaks to billionaires.  We need to be helping the people who need it most.  We need a responsible healthcare policy.  And we can have that.

Sexual Harassment: Actually Pretty Simple

Sexual abuse is a simple subject: don’t.  If you see a woman who’s wearing a great dress and she’s really rocking it, there’s actually no need to cat-call her.  If you see a man at a concert who has a great chest it’s really not ok to just go up and grab it.  If someone is your subordinate in the workplace, it’s absolutely not ok to hit on them.  And these are rather benign examples compared to the millions of horrific stories that happen across the world of sexual assault and rape to both women and men every year.

When I was in the Army we had a zero-tolerance policy on sexual harassment.  We didn’t allow it.  We didn’t pass it off as “locker room talk”.  We held those who harassed co-workers accountable for their actions the way that adults are supposed to, and it worked.  In the last unit I commanded we had one sexual harassment incident, and that person was severely reprimanded and their career ended.  That was the end of it in our unit.  We never had another problem.  And that’s what leadership is; sometimes you have to come down hard on your people because they screw up.  “Boys will be boys” or “Girls just wanna have fun” is never an excuse.

As we’ve finally turned a corner where either the ghost of Carrie Fisher is exposing creeps in Hollywood or Hugh Hefner’s death eliminated a force field that was protecting them (jury’s still  out on which one… maybe both) and we’re finally holding the offenders accountable, we need to start telling leaders to be leaders who stand up and say that these people and these actions are no longer tolerable in our workplaces, rather than leaving it up to the offending individuals to chart their own courses.  Would we give someone who failed a drug test the same leniency? Or who committed a violent crime? Leaders need to be leaders.  That’s what they get paid for.