Colorado attorney Lindasue Smollen spent $9,000 of her own money on six billboards along Highway 34 just outside Denver to send a pointed message about gun violence.
She was inspired by Frances McDormand’s character, Mildred Hayes, in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, who used billboards to bring attention to local law enforcement’s inability to solve her daughter’s unsolved rape and murder.
Smollen is using her billboards to advocate for gun reform in Weld County, which, according to KUSA, was declared a “2nd Amendment sanctuary” by the board of county commissioners in response to the passing of a red flag gun control law allowing law enforcement to seize guns from people who pose a threat to themselves or to others. According to The Trace, at least nine states, including Colorado, have passed red flag laws since the Parkland shooting in February 2018.
Her signs read, “More Americans have died of gun violence since 1970, including murders, suicides and accidents (1.4 million), than in all the wars in American history (1.3 million). Thoughts and prayers are not enough.”
“It’s really about education,” Smollen told CBS4. “This is not political. This is not a democratic issue, it’s not a republican issue, it’s a human rights issue.”
The billboards, she says, are in direct response to Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams, who, according to The Washington Post, “has emerged as perhaps the loudest voice opposing the red-flag law.”
Reams has refused to acknowledge and enforce the red flag law, which Governor Jared Polis signed earlier this month. Reams went on CNN and Fox News to say he’d rather be incarcerated in his own jail than enforce it.
Smollen told 9NEWS that she finds it “distasteful… that he would not enforce a law that could prevent suicides.”
On the Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams Facebook page, a post reads, “I’m glad the person who spent the money on these has the protection of the 1st Amendment to do so. I’ll keep her in my thoughts and prayers as I continue to stand for our Constitution and the 2nd Amendment as well as the 4th, 5th and 14th that are being attacked through the Red Flag Law. One additional point, if this person were truly concerned about public safety they would understand that about 1.3 million people (world wide) are killed in motor vehicle accidents every year yet the signs were posted along a busy highway…”
When asked by CBS4 why she didn’t just “send the sheriff a letter,” Smollen told the station that she could have—but it wouldn’t have grabbed his attention in the same way.
“I certainly could,” she said. “I think my billboards are more effective.”