Bearing Arms

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.

November 2012

John & Dawn Brunetti
John: project manager for a construction company and horse trainer; Dawn: horse trainer

John: I own guns for my own personal protection and for fun and enjoyment. Dawn: We do Wild West shows, and we compete in Cowboy Mounted Shooting Association events. John: These are replicas of 1860 Colt models that were used in the old West. They are single-action revolvers: Every time you want to shoot, you need to cock the hammer and pull the trigger. Dawn: But, over everything else, guns to me mean protection. John: One night, I was lying in bed with Dawn, and I thought I heard our son, Justin, who was three at the time, fall out of bed. Then I heard the noise again, and I realized he didn’t fall out of bed twice. I grabbed my weapon and looked to our back door and saw a young man putting his shoulders into the door to break it down. I drew my weapon on him and got as close as I could safely and ordered him to the ground. He went to his knees and put his hands behind his head and I kept my distance. The whole time Dawn was on the phone with 911. We held him there till the police came and arrested him. Dawn: We live in suburbia, and you don’t expect that to happen at your back door. Out of all the places I would have thought I would have actually had to draw a weapon, I would have never thought that it would be in my home in Suburbia, Colorado.