Just hours after a gunman walked into a Boulder supermarket and killed ten innocent people on Monday, U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) responded by sending a fundraising email and her “thoughts and prayers” to those affected.

After months of glorifying gun culture, downplaying the epidemic of gun violence, and now exploiting a mass shooting in her home state, she can keep her “thoughts and prayers.”

Barely into her first term in Congress, Lauren Boebert has already made her priorities clear. Preserve her personal brand. Create greater division in Congress. And do both in spite of her constituents in Colorado. 

As Coloradans face the aftermath of another mass shooting and an uphill road to economic recovery, Boebert is spending her time in the warm embrace of attention-grabbing national media stunts. She wraps herself in our flag while pointing to her pistol and firing off references to freedom, patriotism, and removing life-saving gun laws. As a long-time hunter and gun owner, I want to ask the question, who is the gun rhetoric helping, other than Lauren Boebert? 

Polls consistently show that responsible gun owners of all political backgrounds in Colorado and across the country support a system of completed background checks on gun purchases — a system that has blocked over three million prohibited purchasers to date. These are the same checks that were once championed by Jim and Sarah Brady and President Ronald Reagan. Earlier this month they were supported by Republicans and Democrats alike on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. And yet, Boebert would lead us to believe that we are in “grave danger” simply by requiring a background check for gun purchasers.

Rep. Lauren Boebert is just plain wrong — and it’s this kind of rhetoric that costs lives.

Talk to any responsible gun owner, myself included, and we will tell you that respect for the firearm and safe storage are the first lessons we are taught. Ask anyone who was a scout or who took a hunter safety course, as I did in my teens, and they will agree that putting unsecured guns on open display in your home — as Lauren Boebert did in a committee hearing just last month — is both irresponsible and dangerous. 

Boebert believes putting her guns on display cements her as a 2A hero — most of us just see her further stigmatizing the tools we use to care for our land, our families, and for sport. If Boebert would instead use her platform and her time in Congress to put forward gun safety legislation, she could destigmatize gun ownership, normalize safe storage, and prevent further tragedies like what we saw in Boulder this week from happening again.

If she wanted to help her constituents, she could work to reduce Colorado’s increasingly high rate of deaths by firearm suicide. If she wanted to be an effective and respected voice in the House, she would introduce meaningful bipartisan legislation on safe storage and ghost guns. Action on any issue – whether it be preventing gun violence, conserving water resources on the Western Slope, protecting small farmers, or keeping American jobs here at home – requires a Representative who will put the needs and concerns of constituents before their own, and before the bottom line of their own self-interest. That type of thoughtful legislating is not who she is and would require more than catchy one-liners and “bullcrap” statements.

As the head of an organization, Brady PAC (named for Jim and Sarah Brady), that works to elect Republican gun violence prevention champions to Congress along with Democrats, I know firsthand that you can be both pro-Second Amendment and still oppose gun violence. We see this time and time again in communities across the country — Americans of all backgrounds and political leanings want to keep their families safe.

But Lauren Boebert keeps getting it wrong and it’s dangerous for all of us. By continuing to fan the flames of a false narrative that you have to choose between owning your own gun and protecting the safety of your own children, Boebert is hoping that you won’t notice the truth: you can have both.

Lauren Boebert wants us to believe that she alone is the defender of our freedom, and she’ll suggest that any criticism of her approach is an attack on her simply because she is a conservative. But when many Republicans, including conservatives, support commonsense, middle-of-the-road gun violence prevention solutions — as they did in the House this month — it’s easy to see through Boebert’s agenda.

We don’t have to choose. We can own guns and we can protect our families from another Boulder shooting happening in our communities again. Lauren Boebert continues to miss the mark. Colorado voters can have their freedom and their safety, and leave Boebert and her cheap political stunts behind.

Brian Lemek is a gun owner and the executive director of Brady PAC.