The .45-caliber Nighthawk T3 Comp that had felt so heavy to me looks featherlike in Dudley Brown’s firm, two-handed grip. He slices the air, bringing the gun from his waist up to eye-level in a blink. He pauses, then flicks the safety and squeezes the trigger. Two quick shots thunder through the low-ceilinged range, ejecting bullet casings that clatter on the cement floor. Twenty-five feet away, a single hole pierces the target through the center of the outlined chest.
It’s a Friday afternoon in May, and the 47-year-old executive director of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) is initiating two new staff members at the Front Range Gun Club in Loveland. Brown—unassuming in a baggy, camouflage hunting shirt, his full face slightly reddened and graying blond hair cropped close—has also brought a fully automatic MP5 machine gun he carries with a special federal permit. An expert shooter and instructor, Brown is a popular figure at the range—and at the nearby Grimm Brothers Brewhouse, where he relaxes with his protégés after the demonstration. The welcoming environment contrasts with that of the Colorado political scene, in which Brown is becoming something of a pariah.