By Donald DeKieffer
July 28, 1993. More by the Independence Institute on Denver gun laws.
The Denver City Council recently adopted two ordinances which criminalize many everyday activities. See if you can spot all the newly-created crimes.
The scene is the kitchen of the Arnold house in Denver.
The cast is Bob Arnold (Father and Husband); Melissa Arnold (Mother and Wife); Billy Arnold (Age 13); and June Arnold (Age 17).
Dad: "Where's June?"
Mom: "Oh, she's over at Mrs. Dempsey's with the girls from the Church. You know, since Jack died, Mrs. Dempsey has had a hard time cleaning up that back lot of theirs. She has emphysema and just can't get out much any more."
Dad: "That back lot is totally overgrown. I'll bet the city inspectors told her to clean it up."
Mom: "That's right, but Mrs. Dempsey doesn't have much money, so the girls volunteered to help. She went over there with your rake, weed-whacker, and machete. I told her to be sure to clean them up when she gets back."
Billy: (entering the kitchen) "Hi everybody!"
Dad: "What are you so excited about?"
Billy: "Oh, Dad, geez. I'm going to Scout Camp tomorrow. Can't a person get a little excited now and then?"
Dad: "Just checking. By the way, are you entering the marksmanship competition again?"
Billy: "Sure. I came in second last year, but that was because we had to use the .22 rifles they gave us. This year they said we could bring our own rifles if they were safe."
Dad: "All right. But let's run through some of the safety lessons again."
Billy: "We have to -- again?" We've been all through that about a million times."
Dad: "Yes, again. A million and one can't hurt. Bring the .22 here from the gun cabinet in the den. Here are the keys. The bolt is in the bottom drawer. You have to use this other key for that."
(Billy leaves and returns with a .22 rifle and a bolt)
Dad: "All right, the first thing I want you to do is to clean and lubricate the rifle."
Billy: "But Dad, I just cleaned it last week and it hasn't been fired since then!"
Dad: "Clean the rifle. I'll watch."
(Billy proceeds to clean the rifle)
Dad: "OK, now I want you to get the trigger lock. It's in the top drawer of the gun cabinet. You still have the keys, don't you?"
(Billy returns with trigger lock)
Dad: "Now, whenever you are not using this rifle at camp, I want it to be locked in a gun case. And I want you to have this trigger lock on it and I want the gun case locked in the Camp Director's safe. Here are the keys to the trigger lock and the case. Wear them around your neck on a bead chain."
Billy: "But all the camp makes us do is to lock it up in the Director's office. Why do I have to do all these other things?"
Dad: "Because having a firearm is a responsibility. And because if you don't, I'm not going to let you take the rifle."
Billy: "Geez, Dad. OK already."
(June Arnold enters kitchen from outside)
June: "I'm bushed. I never saw such huge weeds. It took four of us two hours just to chop them down."
Mom: "Did you put away all the tools?"
June: "Yeah, they're in the shed."
Mom: "Did you clean them like I told you?"
June: "Oh, I forgot -- be right back."
Billy: "I think I'll be a good brother and help her out."
(Billy leaves through back door)
June: "Yeoww!!! -- I'll get you for that you little dweeb!! Take that!"
(Sounds of laughter and scuffling -- June and Billy reenter kitchen soaking wet)
Mom: "What happened?"
Billy: "Well. I saw she was hot so I went to help her."
June: "Yeah, if you call getting wet helping. He doused me with his Super Soaker squirt gun."
Billy: "Yeah, and then you squirted me with the hose."
June: "Well, that should teach you not to pick a water fight when someone has a hose in their heir hand."
June: "Billy, I bought you a present for camp. Here."
Billy: (Opening present): "A Bowie Knife! Thanks, Sis. All the guys at Camp had one of these last year. All I had was that dinky Swiss Army knife."
(Knock on back door -- policeman in doorway)
Bob: "May I help you, Officer?"
Policeman: "Are you Robert Arnold?"
Bob: "I am. Is there something wrong?"
Policeman: "We have received a complaint from one of your neighbors that you are a dangerous criminal. From my personal observation, I can confirm that you have committed several serious crimes, each punishable by a half-year in jail. You have the right to remain silent....."
Identify the crimes.
Under recently-adopted Denver ordinances, it is a crime for parents to allow their children to possess "weapons" or to permit them to have access to any firearm whatsoever.
Dangerous "weapons" include knives more than 3" long (the machete and the Bowie knife) and air guns (the Super Soaker). Also, allowing minors to clean guns and have access to keys to gun cabinets constitutes a crime.
Donald DeKieffer, a Boulder native who now serves on the Board of Directors of the International Paintball Players Association, wrote this article for the Independence Institute, a Golden think tank.