Fortunately Native American legislators gave powerful and personal testimonies in opposition to the bill which ultimately led to its failure. Notable was State Representative Carolyn Pease-Lopez‘s emotional appeal:
When I was a young girl going to the movies that cost, believe it or not, it cost forty cents to go see a movie, and in my era when I was a child, the dominant theme was Westerns. We went to the Westerns in a predominantly Indian community and guess who we rooted for? The cowboys! Because they had white hats. And there were the bad Indians and we didn’t realize the significance of how brainwashed we had become. We had no awareness.
And then there came movies that portrayed the reality of the death — the reality that our ancestors suffered, such as Cheyenne Autumn. I guess that was my wake up call: to see pregnant women being shot and children being shot — you might think this is in the past — well for me it’s not so much in the past because two of my great grandmothers saw Custer ride by … I had close relationships with those women — they’re not just somebody in history.
The things that happened are not so far removed and there is such an evidence in our culture — I know it’s a ho-hum subject for some — but in me, in my community, historical trauma still spans the generations. And so, for this reason, and again my apologizes to the sponsor because he did his best, I must rise in opposition to a weapon such as this that caused devastation among my people.
Gun control is a hot topic these days, but it’s important to remember that gun violence isn’t just an an issue of the present, it’s also an issue of the past and will be an issue of the future. A proposal for a state gun may have simply been a misguided attempt to recognize an idealized vision of the American West, but the truth of our past is indeed grim — and it is up to us to ensure that our decisions today regarding guns will be remembered by future generations not as a continuation of this bloody legacy, but as a decisive turning point towards a more peaceful future.