Snow and cold did not deter more than 400 people from standing in line Thursday night to see former NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch speak at the University of Colorado Boulder.

The talk was titled “Saving the 2nd with Dana Loesch” and was hosted by the CU Turning Point chapter, a student-led organization promoting limited government. Barret Barker, the chapter’s president, said he wanted to invite Loesch to campus to engage in a meaningful discussion with students about Second Amendment rights, especially on the heels of the April enactment of Colorado’s red flag gun law, which allows for temporary confiscation of weapons for those who pose a threat themselves or others.

Jeremy Papasso/Staff Photographer

A University of Colorado student, who refused to give their name, holds a sign while protesting during an event featuring Former National Rifle Association spokesperson Dana Loesch on Thursday.

Loesch opened her discussion by talking about growing up in rural Missouri and an instance when she was a child that spurred her activism for the Second Amendment. She describe seeing her grandfather sit on the front porch with a shotgun, after her aunt showed up one night beaten by an estranged husband. While her grandfather did not shoot anyone that night, she said his efforts kept the man from coming after her aunt further.

“I never wanted anyone to feel the fear that I felt that night,” Loesch said.

Loesch moved on to express criticism of a Boulder ordinance passed last year by city leaders to prohibit assault-style weapons, bump stocks and high capacity magazines.  She said City Council members were invited to the event, but declined due to their Thursday meeting.

“I don’t see any solutions in the Boulder ordinance,” Loesch said. “When you look at the majority of mass murderers, they have low capacity magazines. Additionally, when you look at individuals involved in mass causality incidents, many of have history of mental health issues.”

Loesch emphasized a need for better background checks on gun applications. She also called for law breakers to be held accountable for lying on applications to get guns. She encouraged people to start reporting ineligible people to the National Crime Information Center.

“We have the right to ask … why people are not getting prosecuted who lie on forms,” Loesch said. “It’s a revolving door. There is no deterrent at all.”

Leading up to her speech, Loesch, who also is an author, signed books and met with those in the audience. Among them was Tammy Fisher, of Loveland, who attended the event with her daughters, Madi Fisher, 18, and Sunny Fisher, 15.

“We are supporters of the Second Amendment,” Tammi Fisher said. “We teach our girls to respect the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and we wanted them to come see Dana, as well.”

Madi Fisher said she felt it was important for people to be educated about the Second Amendment and the Constitution.

Outside the event, a small band of roughly a dozen protesters gathered. Kyle Wager, a CU senior studying ecology and evolutionary biology, was among them. Wager serves as the outreach coordinator for the CU Young Democratic Socialist of America.  He emphasized that the club is not “anti-gun.”

“We are here not here to take people’s guns away or advocate for some sort of federal round up, but I get the sentiment,” Wager said. “We are here because of (Loesch’s) long history of insensitive comments on police shootings and mass shootings and her role as former NRA spokesperson.”

After she spoke, Loesch invited the audience to ask questions. While some expressed criticism of Loesch’s beliefs, the environment appeared civil on both sides. Loesch thanked those who were in opposition to her ideas for attending and said discussion was the key to solutions.

“We don’t have time for people who think debating is just screaming and calling people murderers because they want to protect themselves and their families,” Loesch said.

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