Jul 4, 2013 8:43 PM by Andy Koen
CUSTER COUNTY - The Fourth of July Parade in the town of Westcliffe looked like many Independence Day celebrations with floats, horse riding groups and fire trucks. However, what set this parade apart were all of the guns. There were moms with guns, dads with guns and even kids with guns.
The Southern Colorado Patriots Club invited gun owners and Tea Party members to march with them in the parade, displaying their unloaded weapons.
"We believe in the constitution, we believe in the First Amendment, the right to assembly, the right to march, the right to our voice," said Patriots Club president Mike Hess. "We believe strongly that Second amendment rights should not be infringed."
Hess says the idea was to show support for the 54 county sheriffs, including Custer County Sheriff Fred Jobe, for suing the State of Colorado over the recently enacted gun control laws.
"We just feel like that it's important that we make a stand not only for Colorado but the entire nation," Sheriff Jobe said of the decision to fight the new laws in court.
However, some in the community felt the gun display went too far. Michael Poisson stayed home to boycott demonstration by the patriots group.
"I felt that a bunch of thugs with guns pushing their way into a parade was wrong and I still feel that way," Poisson said.
He wasn't alone. The Custer County Chamber of Commerce initially canceled the parade over safety concerns before Town Trustees took it over.
Hess estimates between 450 and 500 people brought their guns to join in the parade. Sheriff Jobe said it was the biggest turnout he'd ever seen.