The Colorado Democratic legislator who once suggested “ballpoint pens” were reasonable alternatives to handguns for self-defense wrote on Facebook that “cold fingers of fear grasped at my throat” in the wake of the George Zimmerman trial when his 15-year-old son asked if it was OK to play cops-and-robbers outside with toy Nerf guns.
“With a dry mouth and wet eyes, I angrily told him that he could not go outside and play a simple childhood game,” state Rep. Jessie Ulibarri wrote in a message he later promoted on the liberal blog ColoradoPols.
Ulibarri, who is Hispanic, was afraid his son would be profiled because of his dark skin. Zimmerman — who is also part Latino — was acquitted in the killing of Trayvon Martin, a black teenager.
“I hope [my son] knows that I am not angry with him,” Ulibarri wrote, “but I’m infuriated with the world we’re raising him in. I’m angry at myself for limiting my son and denying him his youth because I’m petrified of what may happen to him for LWB (living while brown). I’m angry that black and brown boys are always seen as a threat, and never the joyful kids I know them to be.”
Ulibarri has expressed his concern about children and firearms in the past. During one of the many debates in the Colorado legislature over gun control, another lawmaker asked a witness how she would suggest defending herself during an armed attack at a school if guns were banned.
“I mean, what are you going to use?” he inquired. “A ballpoint pen?”
In response, Ulibarri said, “There are other ways to address violence and it doesn’t mean we have our kids exposed to a whole crossfire of multiple folks in a room shooting simultaneously.”
“Congressman [Gabriel] Giffords’ life was saved and so many others’ when very valiant folks stood up to defend themselves and protect themselves,” he continued, “and they did it with ballpoint pens.”
The message about the Nerf guns — which fire harmless foam projectiles — was posted in response to the verdict in the Zimmerman case, which Ulibarri sees as dangerous to kids with dark skin.
“The verdict in the Trayvon Martin case has caused so much pain for so many, and our family grieves tonight,” Ulibarri wrote. “We mourn not just Trayvon and his family, but for the loss of innocence and freedom every brown and black kid endures with this verdict.”
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