The sleepy town of Nucla, Colo., made headlines when they passed an ordinance requiring a gun in every home. Photos by Morgan Spiehs/News 21.
This report is part of the project titled “Gun Wars: The Struggle Over Rights and Regulation in America,” produced by the Carnegie-Knight News21 initiative, a national investigative reporting project involving top college journalism students across the country and headquartered at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.
Nucla is a town of less than 700 people on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, where a gun is required in every home. Nucla Town Board member Richard Craig, shown here at the town hall in Nucla, Colo., on June 17, 2014, first proposed the “Family Protection Order,” which has been in effect since May 2013. Craig says the idea of the the law was initially a joke. For board trustee Les Mahannah, guns were a family affair when he was growing up. He still owns the rifle he used to kill his first deer at the age of 14. He has spent most of his life in the community and graduated from Nucla High School. One of Mahannah’s two jobs is working as a mechanic. At her home in Nucla, Colo., historian Marie Templeton retrieves the gun her husband gave her for their second anniversary more than 60 years ago. Templeton retrieves an article she kept about Nucla, which refers to the town as an “utopia.” Socialist settlers were said to have claimed the area in the name of the Colorado Co-operative Company in 1894. Trustee Bill Long handles his .300-caliber magnum rifle. Despite keeping a number of guns at home, he voted against the law, calling it government overreach (the only trustee to do so). “There’s no difference between the government telling us you can’t own guns or you must own guns,” Long maintains. Board trustee Richard Craig dances with his wife, Sherry, at the 75th anniversary of the local power plant in Nucla, Colo. Ken Haynes swings his son Devon around by a harness during the 75th anniversary of the San Miguel Power Association in Nucla, Colo. Children ride in a San Miguel Power Association cherry picker while others watch and wait in line during the company’s 75th anniversary celebration in Nucla. The power plant is one of the main employers of the town. Many of Nucla’s surviving businesses line Main Street, the town’s primary throughway. A sticker adorns one of town board member Les Mahannah’s many vehicles at his home.