OPINION: Local Patriots seem to flout governance

Claudette Konola
Free Press Opinion Columnist

The Mesa County Patriots were offended when I called them “hot-headed gun nuts” and “Neanderthals.” I was taught that it isn’t nice to call people names, so I apologize for doing so. I do not apologize for pointing out the insanity of working to get Weld and Mesa counties to secede from the State of Colorado.

For readers who do not know about the Mesa County Patriots, they are the folks who marched in the Fourth of July parade with their guns in hand. They seriously believe that carrying guns in public is desirable and their constitutionally-guaranteed right. Colorado law does allow them to carry guns in public so long as there is not a sign posted prohibiting guns on the premises.

How desirable open carry is on the streets of Grand Junction remains to be seen. What if people start carrying guns into banks? Do you think many silent alarms might go off, wasting the time of local law enforcement? Having worked as a teller in a bank once upon a time, I can tell you that I would be hitting my alarm button the moment I saw someone walk in with a gun.

The Mesa County Patriots recently posted this at their Facebook page: “It’s time to make open carry ordinary in Mesa County! Otherwise the fearmongers win! Stay tuned as a new open carry group in Mesa County will be visiting local venues to see who accepts or doesn’t accept open carry into their place of business and the results will be posted so you can spend your money elsewhere.”

I’m glad to see that the Mesa County Patriots will be posting this information at their Facebook page. While they will support venues that allow open carry on the premises, I will avoid them at all costs. I’m glad that my doctor’s office already has a sign posted saying that guns are not allowed on the premises. Surely, some entrepreneur could make some money by printing up those kinds of signs and taking them around to local businesses. I’d be targeting restaurants, bars and hotels if I were that entrepreneur. I think that tourists brave enough to come to Gunlandia would appreciate knowing where to enjoy a good night’s sleep and a good meal without scaring the kids to death with a room full of men carrying guns.

I mention that my doctor has already posted such a sign to warn the Mesa County Patriots to be extremely careful when they are opening trails closed by the BLM — another activity they have crowed about at their Facebook page. Evidently, the BLM has opened a criminal investigation into the illegal reopening of the Cushman Road. The post about the road reopening on the Mesa County Patriots Facebook page reads:

“Putting into action the lawful right of ‘we the people’ to access our public lands and have a controlling interest in their management, David Justice, Betty Oglesby and Roger Bentley, amongst many other Patriots who came to help, opened a historical use road and in the process successfully used brinkmanship as a political tool to prove our lawful position. These folks are real American heroes and we here at Mesa County Patriots salute them!!!”

It seems to me that the Mesa County Patriots’ claim to support our Constitution is negated by their actions flaunting regulations and laws enacted by our legally-elected representative government. I do not believe that they believe in either the Constitution or the concept of government. When the Colorado Legislature passed new gun regulations, it was done in the open by people elected by the people of Colorado. That is not tyranny as reported by the Mesa County Patriots, it is representative government as described in both the U.S. and Colorado constitutions.

Those laws are now the subject of a lawsuit, which I support. Certainly, that suit will go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. In the recent Heller case, they ruled that regulating guns is permissible. This suit will allow them to expand on the limits of regulation. If the Mesa County Patriots insist on carrying their guns everywhere, they may find that their own actions promote increased regulation.

Claudette Konola supports private gun ownership and reasonable regulations. She can be reached at

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