Like many, I first noticed Lauren Boebert when I saw a viral video of her confronting Beto O’Rourke over his gun-control extremism at a town hall meeting in Aurora, Colo., in September of 2019. “Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47,” the former congressman and (soon-to-be-failed) Democrat presidential candidate O’Rourke had just told the world during a debate in Texas.
“Hell, no, you’re not,” Boebert responded, ignoring his supporters’ boos and jeers. She then pointed out how a gun can be an equalizer against larger aggressors and demanded to know how O’Rourke intended to legislate away crime, when criminals, by definition, break the law.
“Is this you?” my friend laughed when she sent me the video. I had lived in Colorado, taught firearm safety courses and am physically similar to Boebert, so it was an easy mistake to make. And, like Boebert, I certainly didn’t appreciate O’Rourke’s pointed threats to disarm law-abiding Americans instead of going after the real problems of crime. Unlike Boebert, though, it hadn’t occurred to me to confront him. I had to applaud this brave, Glock-toting woman for standing up to him in a crowd of O’Rourke’s supporters.
Looking into who she really was, I discovered this was not the first time I’d heard about her after all—she’d made national news before for the Western-themed restaurant, Shooters Grill, in Rifle, Colo., she and her husband had opened in 2013. After a man was attacked near it, Boebert worried about the safety of her staff. She began to open carry a gun herself and allowed trained staff to do so as well. Reporters were shocked when they found out these guns were not merely props.
The O’Rourke confrontation was not the last I would hear of Boebert, either. She took that video’s momentum and turned it into an astoundingly successful campaign, becoming the first woman to represent Colorado’s third congressional district.
When I spoke with her just after her freshmen orientation in December, it became clear how she’s done all she has: Boebert puts off so much energy and passion when she speaks, the air around her seems to crackle and spark. When she turned that energy to politics, she was unstoppable.
A1F: How did you first get interested in guns?
Boebert: I didn’t grow up around guns. My mom was a Democrat, and guns were “scary.” We were supposed to stay away from them. But I’m a self-taught conservative. I moved out at 17, started working and just learned that I can take care of myself better than the government ever could. Some of my friends had experience with guns and took me target shooting. I handled an AR-15 and learned that they don’t just fire at will—all I had heard about them was false. That was the extent of my gun knowledge for a while. But then we opened Shooters Grill, and shortly after, a man was beaten to death near the restaurant. I wondered how I could protect my employees. I soon purchased a handgun and began to open carry. Then I had servers, who had their concealed-carry permits, approach me and ask if they could open carry, too. I agreed—it was much better for them to have it on them than in their purse or car, and they had the training, so I knew they could carry responsibly.
A1F: What was the reaction to that?
Boebert: Locals didn’t give a rip; guns were nothing special to them. It took months for anyone to care. A woman came in to do an interview about our food and thought that the guns were fake—just part of the theme. When she found out they were real, the article changed. That was the first time I saw that it was a big deal to anyone.
A1F: Has anyone expressed concern over safety?
Boebert: I take safety very seriously. All new employees undergo basic firearm training, and can get a carry permit, at no cost to them. We all train and go target shooting together at least once a month. We’ve done gun retention training, too, though we’ve never had a problem.
A1F: You have four boys—do you take them shooting?
Boebert: My boys go target shooting with me. The oldest two are definitely naturals—they’re great shots. Maybe it’s the video games.
A1F: OK, let’s pivot to your political career, which seems to have launched with confronting Beto O’Rourke at one of his town hall meetings in Colorado. What drove you to attend?
Boebert: O’Rourke has a background of boarding schools, an Ivy League education and married a billionaire’s daughter—this wasn’t a regular guy—but his talking points were about privilege. I was frustrated with how disingenuous he was.
Before O’Rourke, I would complain about infringements on our gun rights, and people would tell me: “No one is going to take your guns.” But then Beto forgot the political playbook and openly spoke about it with his “Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15.” I didn’t see anyone standing up to contest this. When he announced he was coming to Colorado, I decided it wasn’t enough for me to sit on my couch and watch; I had to say something. My mind was racing as I went—I didn’t attend rallies and town halls! Fear set in, but I knew it was selfish to succumb. The frustration building inside me was leading me to do something about it, to make a difference.
There were a couple hundred people there, including Moms Demand Action activists. They saw me, with my Shooters Grill shirt and firearm, and remarks immediately started flying my way. I didn’t respond because I didn’t want to cause a scene and get kicked out. Beto was more than an hour late for the rally, and people around me were making remarks, telling me I was dangerous; one woman even slapped my hand. But I didn’t let them drive me away. He finally came out and gave a divisive speech. I saw a woman with a microphone, so I asked if we could ask questions. She agreed right away, but then she came back to me and said, “You’re going to be respectful, right?” I guess because she saw my gun and my shirt and figured I wasn’t in favor of him. I said, “Yes, ma’am.” So they let me. And I am a mom of four, so I know how to use my voice to get my point across!
That experience made me realize I had a voice, and it could affect millions. So, then I set on using that voice to uphold freedom and our Constitution for the generations to come.
A1F: What reactions have you been getting in Colorado, first with confronting him and then with your election win?
Boebert: The support has been unimaginable. Campaigning for a year was one of the most-incredible experiences of my life because I could connect with people. People want to be heard and to know that their representative will listen to them and put what is important to them first.
A1F: What did you think of freshmen orientation and D.C.?
Boebert: One thing is very clear from orientation: The federal government loves wasting tax dollars—so much was unnecessary! But there was some valuable training as well, on the legislative process, parliamentary procedures and more. The most-important part, though, was meeting my colleagues. This freshmen class is something I’m so grateful I’m part of. It looks like America, with more women and more minorities. And incredible talent. I saw that these were people who love their communities, love America. They’re doing their part to stand up and serve their country. I’m part of a group of people who really want to move the dial, really want to make a difference, and that further encourages me to do the same.
A1F: Tell us about your priorities as you take office.
Boebert: I hope to get a seat on the Natural Resources Committee; with that, I want to affect great energy policy for my district and to deregulate a lot that has been hindering our workers. I want to take care of my district, to help give them a thriving economy, to have small businesses flourishing. I want jobs to stay home in America. I also would like a seat on the Judiciary Committee, to fight for the American dream, to continue American exceptionalism. And I want to be known for my constituent services; I never want them to feel like I’ve left them.
A1F: You’ve asked about carrying your gun while in office.
Boebert: Well, I’m five-feet tall and a hundred pounds—I need an equalizer to protect myself against stronger aggressors. I won’t have security walking everywhere I go, and just like many Democrat-run cities, D.C. has a crime problem. And the crime rate is increasing, even with the pandemic and lockdowns. I went through the D.C. concealed-carry-permit training and should be getting my permit soon. So, I’ve asked about carrying, but I got a lot of double-speak. Members are allowed to carry in their offices. I know a lot of members do, and I haven’t personally seen any rules against us carrying on the grounds, but it seems that we can’t on the House floor. I can delegate one of my staffers—they’ve also gone through the training—to bring the gun back to my office, following certain transport rules, and then bring it back to me when I’m out of House chambers. So that’s all something I’m looking into. It’s going to be a challenge.
A1F: Well, you certainly seem up for any challenge. Is there anything else you’d like to tell NRA readers?
Boebert: Your readers know more than anyone that an armed society is a polite society. But we need to come back to a place of normalizing the Second Amendment. For years, we’ve been told you don’t need a gun; just call the police; but now they want to de-fund the police. People are realizing what’s up. There were, what, nearly eight million new firearm owners in 2020 alone? That says a lot. Governments that have disarmed their people have gone a very bad direction. The Second Amendment is our check on government, and we shouldn’t be considered radical for wanting to defend that right.