9NEWS reported Tuesday night about a series of billboards going up in Weld County paid for out of pocket by a Boulder woman, attorney Lindasue Smollen, who has had enough of the misinformation that permeates any debate over gun policy in America today:
The new signs are in direct response to [Weld County Sheriff Steve] Reams saying he would risk going to jail before seizing anyone’s guns under the red flag law.
“It’s distasteful to me that he would not enforce a law that could prevent suicides,” she told 9NEWS.
Governor Jared Polis signed the law earlier this month, but Reams has been a vocal opponent since lawmakers introduced it. When the law goes into effect in 2020, a judge could order law enforcement to temporarily seize someone’s guns if that person is considered a risk.
Reams said he is doing what he believes is right by the Constitution and that she has the right to share the signs because of her 1st Amendment rights.
Smollen cites both Politifact and Snopes for validation of her contention in the billboard you can see above that more Americans have died from gun violence here at home in the last few decades than in all of the nation’s wars throughout history. Even though the figure includes suicides, which some gun rights supporters would like to see separately categorized from acts of violence committed against other people, it’s a sobering and verified statistic.
In response, as the Greeley Tribune’s Joe Moylan reports…something rather less “verified.”
2nd Amendment advocates also are opening up their wallets for a similar cause. In the almost two days since The Post story, 20 people have donated $665 to Lesley Hollywood’s GoFundMe campaign to pay for gun rights billboards in Colorado.
Hollywood, of Johnstown, created the campaign in November with a goal to raise $15,000 for three billboards. As of 2 p.m. Wednesday, the campaign had raised $5,230.
Here’s a mockup of the billboard pro-gun activists plan to put up, since it doesn’t actually exist yet:
Do you see the difference between the billboards paid for by Lindasue Smollen versus this “response” proposed by far-right activist Lesley Hollywood? It’s a very basic difference. In the former case, you have a contention backed up by factual evidence. In the latter, you have a claim without even an attempt at a factual basis.
The claim is in fact so sweeping that we’re left struggling to understand how it’s even irrationally supportable. Is it that the red flag law might be used against women, meaning a court would have to determine that the woman is a significant risk to herself or others if she possesses a gun for 14 days? Is it some kind of “slippery slope” argument where first they come for the guns of the mentally ill in crisis, and then everybody else’s?
Whatever the justification is, it’s not based in any reality we can identify.
And that makes these “dueling billboards” a metaphor for the entire gun debate, which is dependent on deliberate misinformation and irrational sweeping statements from the gun lobby to gin up outrage over proposals that in reality enjoy overwhelming public support.
In a perfect world, facts would always win out over fiction.
But in the battle for eyeballs, billboards compete equally.