“Dueling Billboards?” More Like Fact vs. Fiction

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.


14 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. 2Jung2Die2Jung2Die says:

    The 2nd billboard is not just without factual basis, it's also stone-cold demographic targeting. The only thing they left out was the pink gun.

  2. VoyageurVoyageur says:

    Guns are for wimps.  According to the CDC, in 2016, there were 39,000 deaths from guns, 40,000 from motor vehicles and 64,000 from drug overdoses.  

    Put those numbers in your billboards, boys.

    Big pharma and big SUV are both more likely to kill you than the  NRA.  

    And for god's sake, whatever you think of that anti-gun billboard, don't text your answer while driving!

  3. Gilpin Guy says:

    Who wants to see the billboard industry flourish?

  4. Diogenesdemar says:

    Pfft — words and facts are for people who can, and will, read . . . 

    . . . but, a picture of a woman openly carrying here AR for protection while undertaking that exceedingly dangerous grocery shopping trip in Windsor to feed her young family??!? . . . 

    . . . That’s worth a thousand words (to people who don’t read)!!!

    • VoyageurVoyageur says:

      How is her assault rifle going to help that woman when she pops her oxycontin (number one cause of death) and then crashes her Toyota (number two cause of death) into that billboard?

    • Meiner49erMeiner49er says:

      and what a different story it would tell if the woman were an African-American, or Muslim woman? That billboard is about whiteness, not women.

      • Gilpin Guy says:

        It would still be misleading.  Do we really live in a society where a woman of any age, race or religion needs to be hefting an AK over her shoulder while she goes shopping?  Is that really the message.  If you are a gal, you need to be ready to sling lead at any moment.  Of course, the evil doers can also sling lead since there is no effort to get guns out of their hands either.  Be afraid and be ready to unleash a big can of gun violence.

      • RepealAndReplace says:

        Our RWNJ friends would be crapping in their pants at that sight.

      • kwtreemamajama55 says:

        Right, 49er.  As evidence, look at the tragic case of Marissa Alexander, a Florida woman who fired a warning shot at her abusive husband, and was sentenced to twenty years.

        Nobody had given her the memo that "Stand Your Ground" in Florida applied only to white men facing black teenagers.  Alexander was finally freed in 2017 after a nationwide publicity and good legal representation.

        Or ask Cyntoia Brown, who killed her rapist.  Women of color who attack abusers are not generally given any benefit of any doubt, whether they use a firearm or not. Hundreds of thousands of abuse survivors languish in jails after trying to defend themselves, as part of the "abuse to prison pipeline".

        None of these self-righteous RWNJs would give a dime or a paragraph of print to defend any woman of color accused of self defense with a gun.

  5. Curmudgeon says:

    So, the theory here is that domestic abusers will make false reports to obtain an Extreme Risk Protection Order to temporarily disarm their victim before killing them in cold blood, after leaving documented evidence of premeditation?  


  6. Gilpin Guy says:

    Too bad they can't show photos of the Newtown victims in their death postures on billboards.  "If you fuckers can't read facts then look at these photos of what you accept as a necessary sacrifice for your gun idolatry."  Protecting the innocent only when it doesn't involve any personal sacrifices.

  7. doremi says:

    Actually, in Colorado more people die from guns than from motor vehicle accidents. 

    Like it that they picked a picture of a woman toting an assault weapons.  Sorry, there aren't that many folks out there who identify with an AR15 for self defense.



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