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Our View: Uncle right to call out lawmaker on gun tweet

The most biting criticism oftentimes comes from family members. And Uncle Chris Soper did not hold back in saying, “Shame on you!” to his nephew Republican Rep. Matt Soper of Delta over a tweet on being “prepared for civil war” after the assault weapons bill was introduced in the state House on March 3.

The thing is, Chris Soper of Pacific Grove, California, didn’t just tell his nephew directly. He wrote a letter to the editor in The Denver Post on March 22, strongly expressing his disapproval after Matt Soper tweeted a photo of himself using a firearm and writing: “Come and take it! They’ll have to invade the West Slope (sic) and murder us if they intend on us being defenceless! (sic) We will NOT bow to tyrants and those who seek to disarms (sic) us need to be prepared for civil war!”

Matt Soper’s tweet has since been taken down. HB23-1230, in the House Judiciary Committee, defines “assault weapon” and prohibits a person from manufacturing, importing, purchasing, selling, offering to sell or transferring ownership of an assault weapon. The bill prohibits possessing a rapid-fire trigger activator, too.

A violation is not even a felony. It’s a Class 2 misdemeanor.

Like any citizen or legislator, Soper has every right to share his opposition to this bill. But his comments, “We will NOT bow to tyrants,” and “need to be prepared for civil war!” are incendiary, irresponsible and dangerous.

Thankfully, Uncle Chris called his nephew’s tweet “distasteful” and “offensive.”

Chris Soper wrote: “No one, absolutely no one, is trying to take all of your guns away!

“Your tweet sounds like you are trying to incite a Civil War. Who are these tyrants you are referring to? Other lawmakers who were fairly elected by the majority of the people in their districts?”

This assault weapons bill, which addresses certain firearms used in mass shootings in Colorado, doesn’t have to incite hysteria. Please, just read the bill. We need productive debate, especially from gun owners.

If Matt Soper had taken a closer look, he may have paused before spreading ridiculous misinformation and fear. He got people worked up for nothing. If taking an oath to serve a home district isn’t enough to act responsibly and respectably, it’s appropriate for a legislator’s friends and family members to call him out. Apparently, Uncle Chris feels the same way.

Good one on you, Uncle Chris, for speaking your mind.

Tensions are already high around gun control measures. On Sunday, Colorado’s House lawmakers passed two gun reform bills to expand the state’s red-flag law, and make it easier to file lawsuits against gun manufacturers and dealers. Tense debate and the bills’ passage came after hundreds of Denver students and teachers descended on the Capitol to demand legislation to address gun violence after the most recent shooting at East High School, which wounded two administrators.

More excerpts from Chris Soper’s letter to Matt Soper:

“As a lawmaker, how on earth do you expect to advance good legislation without honest dialogue?

“I love the Western Slope, but you make it sound like a foreign country to me. You owe everyone an apology!

“I truly believed, at one time, that you were better than this. I am appalled and greatly saddened that you would stoop to such a low political stunt. Why do you think so many Republicans are leaving the party in Colorado and declaring unaffiliated as their political status?

“As a legislator, I would think that you would truly be educated as to what is in these bills and carry on an honest conversation with your colleagues, constituents, and the general public.”

We hope these words sink in. Because if Uncle Chris has to come down here, Matt Soper is in even bigger trouble.