EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been corrected to show that there is not yet any ordinance before the Boulder City Council to ban assault rifles. The council has agreed to look into drafting one, but that has not yet happened.
Flatiron Sights Shooting Club's members don't exactly fit the clichéd image of the conservative gun enthusiast that might pop into the mind of many liberals.
No, the Flatiron Sights members are liberal-minded Front Range residents who find joy in a hobby usually associated with people of a more conservative persuasion. Among their ranks are a medical field employee and engineer and a GIS technician.
"No one is really going, 'So, what's your position on abortion?'" group founder Fernando Rebora said during an interview on Super Bowl Sunday at the Shoot Indoors firing range in Broomfield.
"It's just that we tend to side more liberal," he said. "We would be more likely to support a Democratic candidate for office rather than a conservative. It's however a person defines themselves. I'm more conservative on guns."
Rebora said that the group believes to some extent that focusing on the party affiliation is less important than examining each issue on its own merits, which explains why liberals who enjoy guns are a real thing.
"Thinking a political party has dominion over an issue is a trap that can allow people to not examine an issue in a way that is objective and fair," he said.
According to the Pew Research Center, Republicans and Republican-leaning independents are twice as likely to say they own a gun when compared to Democrats and those who lean Democratic.
Flatiron Sights has existed for only a few months and the club has about 10 core members. Rebora calls it a group in "the loosest sense," but members see it as a way to make the world of hobby shooting open and welcoming.
None belong to the NRA — an organization not exactly known for its liberal inclinations.
Gutzait said on Feb. 4 that the club is a way to depoliticize the issue, and an opportunity for liberals to shoot their guns and not have to deal with ribbing from the more conservative folks that dominate the gun world.
"In more traditional gun clubs and shooting clubs, the general population tends to be more conservative," he said. "As soon as you come out as liberal, they are making jokes — you know, 'snowflake.' The goal here is to make friends and not get into politics."
Before and after Florida shooting
Three members of the club spoke with the Camera and Times-Call before and after the massacre at a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14.
The shooting left 17 students and faculty members dead and sparked a renewed call to ban certain types of firearms — AR-15-style weapons specifically. It also revived an idea that sprung up after the school massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in 2012 that teachers be equipped with firearms.
The Florida shooting has also caused an exodus of businesses that offered discounts to NRA members. Videos recorded inside the school of terrified students cowering inside class soon flooded social media, and an angry backlash at politicians offering "thoughts and prayers" played out on television.
Locally, the Boulder City Council has agreed to look into drafting an ordinance that would ban "assault rifles" in the city, and a citizen spoke before the Longmont City Council on Tuesday urging the same course of action.
'What is the end goal?'
Boulder resident Nico Dattels said during the Feb. 4 interview that he was "absolutely not for gun control," but a few minutes later added that he needed to clarify his position.
"What is the end goal?" he asked. "If you are going to enact gun control, is it to stop mass shootings, accidental deaths or just gun homicides in general? ... I see different solutions for each."
Dattels, who has taken up competitive shooting, said that he grew up in a liberal, extremely anti-gun family in San Francisco. Nonetheless, he is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, but agrees that some people should just not be allowed to have guns.
In an interview following the shooting, Dattels said he has had to reassess some of his viewpoints.
"It would be disingenuous of me to say that easy access to firearms is not a risk factor for gun violence," he said. "But as a whole — and I don't want anyone to take this out of context — but mass shootings really represent a tiny fraction of gun homicides overall."
Dattels added that, in lieu of a ban on specific kinds of weapons, a reduction in gun violence is more likely if the country moves toward universal health care, which he believes will broaden access to badly needed mental health care.
He added that legalizing and decriminalizing drugs and "universal income" — providing all citizens a guaranteed sum of money — will reduce poverty and the violence that can accompany it.
Responding the renewed call for arming teachers, Dattels said that he doesn't see a problem with a teacher who is licensed to carry a concealed weapon being allowed to carry one, but he opposes arming teachers en masse.
"I've seen a lot of comments that we should arm the teachers, but I think that's a terrible idea," he said. "You can't ask people to do that if they aren't mentally prepared to carry that responsibility."
Gutzait is a registered Democrat who caucused for Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential election, and during an interview following the shooting in Florida said he was probably one of the most "pro-gun control members of the group."
He said in an interview following the Parkland shooting that the issue is highly nuanced and part of the impasse happening in the United States springs from both sides believing they are the just side. He said that for any progress to made, the gun issue has to stop being looked at as a right-vs.-left issue.
Gutzait is a proponent of data-based legislation with regard to gun control and says it's important for Congress to repeal the Dickey Amendment, which was first introduced in 1996 and limits the ability of the Centers for Disease Control to research gun violence in the United States.
As for the renewed call to arm school teachers, Gutzait said the idea is "absurd."
"That's more likely to get teachers shot than it is to prevent anything," he said. "You are trying to Band-Aid a problem. And that's a terrible Band-Aid."
Gutzait said he has looked at how other countries address guns within their own borders and offered up Australia as an example. Australia introduced a comprehensive gun control regime after a massacre in Tasmania 22 years ago, and mass shootings dropped to zero. The Australian government banned certain types of weapons and bought them from citizens.
"They would probably be your closest cultural analog (to the United States)," he said. "They managed to do it. It wasn't popular at the time, but they did it."
Arming teachers is 'probably not the best idea in the world'
Rebora is not a U.S. citizen and can't vote, so he sees the club not only as a way to socialize with people who share his political inclinations, but also an avenue to work for change outside of the voting booth and educate people about firearms.
He's invited the Boulder City Council and expressed an interest in inviting Moms Demand Action, a pro-gun control group, out to the range to learn about firearms.
Prior to the shooting and since, Rebora said he supports evidence- and data-based solutions to gun violence in the United States and not legislation based on emotion or in reaction to tragedy. He is dubious about banning certain types of weapons, in part, because he doesn't think it's fair to the millions of gun owners who don't break the law and don't hurt anyone.
However, Rebora is a parent, and the massacre in Florida has been on his mind. He said that his gut tells him that arming teachers is "probably not the best idea in the world," because police are highly trained in the use of firearms yet have a low accuracy rate.
No national data on police shooting accuracy exists, but a study of the New York Police Department indicates that police officers hit their targets about one-third of the time, and that drops to about 13 percent during a gunfight.
"Our teachers are already overworked and underpaid," he said. "They have a lot on their plate without having to worry about the liability of what if something like this happens."
He said the week following the shooting was difficult, and club members are going to have to discuss what to do if a member starts behaving in ways that raise red flags.
"If we saw someone suffering from depression or acting erratically, how would we handle it as a group?" he said. "What if someone new came to the group and didn't seem stable? How would we approach that? The club isn't all about having a great time; it's about making things safe."
For more information, visit flatironsights.org.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.