GOP congressman seeks alternate legislation to Equal Rights Amendment | A LOOK BACK

Gun Rights

Forty Years Ago This Week:  Legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Ken Kramer, R-Colorado Springs, had the result of infuriating the president of the Arapahoe chapter for the National Organization for Women, Shirley Wood.

Kramer’s legislation sought to “amend the 14th Amendment” by making sex “a suspect classification.” Under the law women could not be discriminated against, unless there were a compelling reason; i.e. the draft. Wood called Kramer’s proposal “a right wing smoke screen” designed to avoid ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. 

“He thinks he’s protecting us,” Wood said, “but you’re either equal or you’re not. I’m not sure whether a constitutional amendment can be amended.”

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Further, Wood told The Colorado Statesman, the U.S. Supreme Court case Regents of the University of California v. Bakke laid precedent that the 14th Amendment was not intended to cover sex discrimination.

The only way to ensure women’s equality, Wood argued, was the ratification of the ERA, which had the support of the entire Colorado congressional delegation except for Kramer and Sen. Bill Armstrong.

“Kramer’s legislation,” Wood said, “could be an obstructionist tactic to ERA ratification with enough backing. It will be interesting to see if Armstrong would back it.”

In a publicized effort to engage women on the subject, Kramer had said he would be meeting with “women’s groups representing a wide variety of opinions,” but Wood voiced her disappointment that Kramer had never called her.

“He’ll be calling the Eagle Forum and The Pro-Family Coalition,” Wood said. “That’s what he thinks are women’s groups of wide opinions.” 

In other news, Kathy Saidy, who had previously made an unsuccessful bid for Colorado’s House District 62, and had been considering running for secretary of the Colorado Democratic Party told reporters she was “leaning towards not doing it.” 

Saidy said two strong Boulder candidates, Aaron Harper and Ken Malpass, had already announced for the secretaryship and she was leaning toward running for the legislature again in 1984.

“The alternative to secretary of the party,” Saidy said, “is to work within my House and Senate Districts in Arapahoe County. I’ll make my mind up about the party secretary race by this weekend. If I don’t decide by then it will be too late to get started.”

Thirty Years Ago: David Kopel, spokesman for the National Rifle Association, said he couldn’t remember ever agreeing with state Sen. Regis Groff, D-Denver, on anything — “almost never.”

Kopel spoke against Groff’s four bills aimed to control guns and keep them out of the hands of juveniles, but said that he agreed in a rare instance with one of Groff’s  statements — “Prisons are not the answer.” 

“But then neither are Groff’s bills,” Kopel added.

In testimony before the state Senate Judiciary Committee, Kopel, an attorney, said, “There are a million things we can do. But instead of gun control which won’t work, the legislature should concentrate more on welfare reform, child abuse and rape. Besides being probably unconstitutional, Groff’s bills would do nothing to save lives.”

Groff’s bills included: making it a misdemeanor to leave a loaded firearm where a child might get it, banning the sale of assault weapons, banning the sale of any firearm to a person under the age of 21, requiring a 10-day waiting period for all gun purchases, and holding parents or guardians responsible if they provided a firearm to a juvenile who went on to use it unlawfully.

“You can’t child-proof a gun,” Kopel said, “but you can gun-proof a child.” 

The only measure that the NRA supported was HB 93-1115 sponsored by Rep. Jeanne Adkins, R-Parker, and drafted by Attorney General Gale Norton. HB 1115 prohibited minors from possessing guns, with a possible first-offense fine of $250 and a second-offense fine of $5,000 and penalty of up to six months in jail. 

Rachael Wright is the author of the Captain Savva Mystery series, with degrees in Political Science and History from Colorado Mesa University and is a contributing writer to Colorado Politics and The Gazette.

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