Joe & Linda Skinner

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December 6, 2012
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THE SKINNERS: Multiple abuse on multiple-use land

SHE SAID: I have always been an advocate for multiple uses of public land, especially since I make use of the desert north of town several times a week. But it is starting to resemble a war zone with all the shooters. The dogs cower, quake and will not come out of the truck when someone is shooting nearby, which has lately made some of our trips very frustrating. Riding a dirt bike or walking and not knowing where all the shooters are is inviting a collision with a stray bullet. Both bikers and shooters have trashed the desert with litter from their pursuits. Add the oil containers, machine parts, ammo boxes, and leftover targets to broken bottles from the desert drinkers and the area becomes even more dangerous, as well as unsightly. Why can't the shooters use the range that has been set up for them instead of every little arroyo? Why can't the shooters pick up after themselves? Why can't the National Rifle Association's motto be "No Refuse Anywhere"? Why can't the bikers, mostly young men, climb down off their bikes and clean up their trash? HE SAID: Like the archeologist said, "If people weren't so trashy, we wouldn't know anything about the past." I understand your complaint, because the adjacent rural areas are a true gift to this community. This is one of few places where you can drive 15 minutes and usually feel like you are away from civilization. Unfortunately, we have to wonder why all these people disobey the rules. For example, the other day I was on Little Park Road going for a hike and heard gunshots. When I drove back past the Bentonite turnout two guys had parked their truck there, walked behind the sign saying "closed to use" and put up a target on the nearest hill. I am sure they enjoyed plinking away; but, I was always taught that you have to be absolutely safe with your firearm.The sad part is that there are safety rules about where to shoot and how to do it. The philosophical question is how do we react when people choose to break existing laws? One side of the electorate advocates passing even more laws or laws with more severe punishment. Others think it is just a problem of early childhood neglect or lack of role models. They want to solve everything by rearranging the brains of all miscreants. A final group just wants to do away with laws and let tooth and fang rule. They imagine they would always be the winning superheroes in their dream scenario. SHE SAID: I'll bet you didn't stop and point out to those guys that no shooting is allowed there. That would be taking your life in your hands. It is hard to tell who is a yahoo and who is just ignorant. Some people think they're above the law and all-powerful when they have a weapon in their hands. Would the sheriff's department have responded if you had called about the situation? Along the same lines, I notice no one is wanting to register in the special dorm set up for those who want to carry concealed weapons at CU. I can think of nothing scarier than a firearm in the hands of a college student drunk or high on drugs. I do not trust many to decide when a proper time would be to draw a gun and shoot at someone.Maybe more prisoner work crews should help clean up the desert. Maybe the NRA, shooting clubs or motorcycle groups could undertake some more clean-ups. Why not have the teens arrested for underage drinking and other offenses be part of clean-up crews? Let's stop abusing the rules and land, and start caring for the resource.HE SAID: It is surprising to me that I might agree that those who want to continue such activities should clean up the area, even if they didn't leave the mess. Sometimes freedom requires that you have the maturity to be part of the solution rather than say "I didn't do it."Just as the mountain bikers have come together to build trails, the shooters and bikers need to come together to solve these problems before someone says there ought to be another law and, all of sudden, no one cannot recreate reasonably any more. The Skinners hope you can find a safe place to recreate in peace. They can be reached at

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The Post Independent Updated Dec 6, 2012 02:18PM Published Dec 6, 2012 02:17PM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.