As the Village Turns 

Shooting from the hip

You're in a small room with Betty Beedy, Doug Bruce, Will Perkins, Margaret Radford, Sallie Clark and a pack of men wearing plaid flannel shirts and carrying loaded handguns. You have:

A) An urge to leave before you're put in the uncomfortable position of having to take sides.

B) An even stronger urge to shout, in a joking manner: "Ready. Aim. Fire."

C) A seat at the recent El Paso County Board of Commissioners candidate forum sponsored by the Pikes Peak Firearms Coalition.

D) The feeling, as you gaze at Beedy, Bruce, Perkins, Radford and Clark, that you could become the village hero if you just had five buttocks-sized, stick-on bull's-eyes.

E) A brilliant idea for a new carnival game that would finally allow the Colorado State Fair to turn a profit.

The correct answer, of course, is C -- the county commission candidate forum hosted by the local gun group.

(Although another acceptable answer would be F: "Nearly enough cumulative brain power to run an electric pencil sharpener.")

Last week's event candidate/gun forum was held at the downtown VFW Hall. The site was chosen because of its convenient location and also because the Spencer Penrose Room at The Broadmoor was booked by members of the International Atheist Alliance. (Footnote: The atheists surprised even themselves by offering a prayer to God, begging him to fill some of our potholes and perhaps, in his infinite wisdom and mercy, even sending the village an actual snowplow.)

Anyway, the event went smoothly until it actually began. At that point, Bruce -- tax limitation guru, county commission candidate and owner of the majestic Rodent Haven Apartment Complex -- stormed the podium. Then, in his usual amiable and "Can't We All Just Get Along?" way, Bruce shot the first salvo of the evening. Specifically, he offered the opinion that the master of ceremonies was on the same intellectual level as Gazette publisher Ed Bircham.

After 40 minutes of angry exchanges between Bruce and a group I would call "everyone else," the issue of rules and procedures was settled. The rules were important, because on this night the gun people would endorse the county commission candidates, listening intently to each of them and then, in a loud and clear voice that would echo across the land, declare: "The $%^&*# rivets on this concealed crotch holster are giving me a terrible rash!"

Prior to the meeting, former County Commissioner Beedy handed out "Douglas Bruce For Commissioner" stickers to her legions of still-devoted followers ("normal, white Americans"). I asked what she'd been doing since leaving office a few years ago. She said she was working on her tree farm in Calhan, work that involves planting seeds and, when the trees reach the desired size, digging them up and selling them.

Working for the Bruce campaign is a way for farmer Betty to kill time while she waits for her crop to ripen. In 2094.

After the long delay, the meeting began. (My favorite actual line from Bruce during the pre-meeting rules fight was: "... because 70 percent is lower than 80 percent of the 90 percent." This caused the first six rows of men to rummage through their clothing, trying to get to their calculators without accidentally spraying the room with machine gun fire.)

Here now, some actual highlights.

Bruce: "I've kept a copy of the Constitution next to my heart for 30 years." This reference to a heart came as quite a shock -- coming from Doug "the Tin Man" Bruce. (To show his support for Tin Man, Gazette publisher Bircham began pulling handfuls of straw out of his own head.)

Radford: "I live my traditional family values every day." (This had nothing whatsoever to do with the gun debate. It did, however, earn Margaret a $1,000 performance bonus from Focus on the Family.)

Sallie Clark: "Thank you for inviting me here tonight. I believe I answered the questions the way you wanted to hear it." (Another slip-up like that and she'll have to hand in her Association of Career Politicians membership card.)

District 2 candidate and Firearms Coalition president Bernie Herpin: "I support concealed weapons. And I support the Vermont gun-carry laws." (I'm not positive, but I believe residents of Vermont don't need a permit to carry any type of gun, as long as they carry it in a bucket of maple syrup.)

Will Perkins, the not-getting-any-younger, anti-gay Amendment 2 author and firearms coalition member who showed up to vote on the endorsements: "Charlton Heston ... now there's a straight man! Yes!"

(OK. I made that one up. Will sat silently throughout the meeting, seemingly thinking about the November presidential election and whether to vote for Lincoln or Douglas.)

The real shocker, however, came from ex-City Council member Clark and current member Radford. Clark said she has a concealed weapons permit. (As I understand it, her weapon is Smith & Wesson's popular Relentless Badgering model.) And Radford said she likes to shoot her late father's antique .22-caliber rifle (whenever she can get District 2 rival Bruce to hold still long enough to get off a good shot).

Here's the shocker: Clark and Radford said they believe it should be legal to carry concealed weapons into our schools.


Anyway, at the end of the night the gun folks issued their endorsements: both Bruce and Herpin in District 2, Clark in District 3 and little-known Auddie Cox in District 4.

Which made me think maybe we should try to lure Beedy off her farm and back into politics.

Just until harvest time.

-- richt@csindy.com


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