Firearms are woven into the historical fabric of the West. But while the coverage of tragedies—like the mass shootings at Columbine High School and, more recently, at an Aurora movie theater—often paints a simplistic picture of guns and gun owners, the reality is infinitely more complicated. Behind the divisive gun-control debate, there are people. Here are the stories of nine Colorado gun owners, in their own words.
Small business owner
This is a Thompson/Center .50 caliber traditional muzzle-loader. It’s a gun my dad built from a kit. You load the gun from the muzzle, which was the traditional way of shooting before there were auto-loading mechanisms or even breechloaders. You’d have to pour your powder down the barrel and stuff a ball down the muzzle of the gun to be able to shoot it. It is the essence of shooting to me. You don’t just open a box of cartridges and stuff them into a magazine and shoot. You have to load the gun with every single component to shoot every time. I don’t know how old it is, honestly. I know that I really, really enjoy shooting it. It’s a grand old time.