Freshman Democrat Learns Triangulation Stings A Little

Sen. Kerry Donovan (D).

Sen. Kerry Donovan (D).

As the Aspen Times' Scott Condon reports, newly elected Sen. Kerry Donovan of Vail is taking heat from her Democratic constituents–otherwise known as her base–over her co-sponsorship of the GOP's bill to repeal the 15-round gun magazine limit passed in 2013:

Donovan, a Vail Democrat, came under fire at a town hall meeting at the Aspen Square Condominiums for signing on as a co-sponsor on a Senate bill to repeal a law that banned possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines. The controversial 2013 law limits magazines to 15 rounds or less…

“This is a very controversial, passionate issue,” Donovan said. “Yes, my signing on has caused friction.”

She acknowledged that her position has “pissed off” part of her diverse district — primarily residents in the liberal strongholds of Aspen, Vail and Crested Butte. But nearly all residents in the rest of the district — which includes Delta County, San Luis Valley, Leadville and Buena Vista — supports the repeal of law, she said.

And then, as Condon reports, Donovan let a little realpolitik slip:

Donovan also seemed to downplay her support of its repeal by noting the bill will likely face a quick death in the House if it advances, as expected, from the Senate. Democrats hold a slim edge in the state House. Republicans control the state Senate by one vote.

“I don’t believe it makes it out of the House,” Donovan said of the bill. [Pols emphasis]

That didn’t placate the Aspen crowd…

So no, it was not wise for Sen. Donovan to use the likely death of a bill she is co-sponsoring at the hands of fellow Democrats to deflect criticism for her co-sponsorship of said bill. The average voter, and especially more literate voters who show up to town hall meetings, actually really hate excuses like that. It should be noted in her defense that Donovan made a promise to vote to repeal the 15-round limit during her campaign, though there were plenty of other issues in her race last year against Republican Don Suppes for voters to chew on besides guns. It's anybody's guess how many votes Donovan may have picked up by opposing the magazine limit–but we're inclined to believe single-issue gun voters in SD-5 voted Republican no matter what she said. And obviously, not enough did.

In the long run, we don't think this will hurt Sen. Donovan politically, mostly because we don't think gun magazines will be an issue by 2018 when she is back up for election. Guns didn't factor in 2014 enough for Colorado Republicans to perform over mean even in a national wave year–not enough to take both chambers of the legislature, or take down our incumbent governor. That's why the magazine limit isn't going to be repealed.

So maybe it's good to learn the limits of triangulation now? Because you can't win without your base.

Legislative Snow Day Postpones “Gunmageddon II”

snowycapitol

As many of our readers already know, the Democratic-controlled Colorado House and GOP-controlled Colorado Senate both agreed to stay home today, owing to the inclement weather over the weekend that dropped anywhere from 5 inches to two feet of snow across the state. As it happened with this storm, Denver itself saw comparatively less snowfall than many western suburbs, not to mention the mountains–so anyone you see whining about the legislature being wussies…well, they're probably in Denver.

Closure of the legislature does mean the postponement of a few important scheduled hearings scheduled for today, and public rallies prior to those hearings. The House State Affairs Committee was set to kill two bills including one from Rep. Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt to expand "conscientious" rights to discriminate, prior to which a coalition of groups led by LGBT advocacy organzation One Colorado was set to rally in the West Foyer. But without question the big loser from today's closure is the gun lobby, which was planning a major show of support for their Senate bill to repeal the 15-round magazine limit passed in 2013. Dudley Brown implored his members to show up today to testify rain or shine:

If you can brave the weather safely, I hope you’ll plan on attending the hearing, because we need your support…

Even though Democrats in House leadership have vowed to kill any pro-gun bill this year, they know that RMGO members like you have them backed in to a corner. 

They remember very the historic political consequences of backing Bloomberg-inspired gun control laws in Colorado. 

Thanks to the activism of RMGO members and supporters like you — holding gun grabbers accountable — we have an opportunity to repeal these gun control schemes. 

But in order to succeed, we need to keep up the pressure.

So, if you can make it, please mark your calendar for Monday at 1:30pm.

As we've discussed and news reports have commented on this year, the gun lobby has had surprising trouble replicating the crowd of angry supporters they were able to draw to the Capitol in 2013. The most obvious reason for this is that the actual effects of the gun safety bills passed two years ago have not lived up to the hyperbolic predictions. Even the most ardent dues-paying Rocky Mountain Gun Owners member can see today that gun ownership in Colorado has not been "effectively banned," and that they can still buy magazines for their firearms–despite Jon Caldara's promise that "if this law passes, almost all guns in Colorado will never be able to get a magazine again." Now that these wild predictions have been debunked by reality, it's understandably harder to keep the outrage at fever pitch.

Today was another chance for the gun lobby to show their strength, and they got snowed out. It's not Dudley Brown's fault, but will all of his members who made arrangements to testify today be able to reschedule? It's surely not going to help.

Just remember, it was a bipartisan decision.

Republicans Already Plotting Laura Woods Replacement?

uncommittedwoods1

One of the closest Republican victories in the 2014 elections in Colorado was the extremely narrow win by Sen. Laura Waters Woods over appointed Democratic Sen. Rachel Zenzinger in SD-19. By fewer that 700 votes, Woods ousted the former Arvada councilwoman appointed to replace Sen. Evie Hudak, who resigned rather than face a recall campaign principally organized by Woods.

Even after Hudak's resignation, Woods did not have a clear path to the GOP SD-19 nomination. Concerned about Woods' long-term viability for holding this critical swing seat, establishment Republicans fought hard to defeat Woods and put Lang Sias in this seat. Sias lost out to Woods in the SD-19 primary after Rocky Mountain Gun Owners rallied its supporters behind Woods' campaign.

Sias finally won an appointment to the Colorado House in overlapping HD-27 this year, but from what we've heard, Republicans are still very concerned that Woods will be unable to hold the SD-19 seat against a strong Democratic challenge. Even though Woods won in last year's election, she doesn't get a full Senate term before running again: in order to realign this seat with its usual election interval, Woods will be back up for election next year.

Assuming she makes it that far. Sources tell us that Woods is being watched very closely by Republican minders this year in the Senate, and is on a short list of potential GOP establishment primary targets in 2016. Because this seat is considered pivotal to control of the Senate by both parties, there is no margin for error: and Woods by most accounts hasn't impressed upper-echelon Republicans who will map their playing field next year.

woodsmailer2

During last year's primary, one of the major attacks on Woods from fellow Republicans pertained to her "retirement" in the 1990s, claiming disability for carpal tunnel syndrome. Now, we certainly aren't going to speculate on whether or not Sen. Woods was legtimately disabled by carpal tunnel syndrome, but she does note on her website that her disability was positive insofar as she was able to raise her children at home. As you can see in the mailer above, fellow Republicans used her description of her condition to raise questions about Woods "contributing to the growing epidemic of disability fraud."

If that sounds thin to you, bear in mind that you're not the target audience–Republican primary voters in SD-19 are. And don't get us wrong, depending on how Sen. Woods acquits herself in the next few months, Democrats may prefer she be the general election candidate. Either way, if Republican brass does decide to pull the proverbial trigger on Woods, this disability business will just be the opening salvo.

Stay tuned–control of the Colorado Senate may well hinge on what happens here.

Senate GOP Plays Budget Games…With Concealed Weapons?

Concealed handgun.

Concealed handgun.

The Denver Post's John Frank reports on an escalating budget battle in the Republican-controlled Colorado Senate revealing some very interesting ulterior motives:

In what critics call a "high-stakes game of chicken," Republican lawmakers Wednesday rejected a spending bill that included money to reduce wait times for background checks for concealed-handgun permits — a move that also threatens funds for child abuse cases and testing evidence collected in rape and drunken-driving investigations.

The party-line Senate vote against a bill that won unanimous approval in the House puts in jeopardy more than $2 million for the Colorado Department of Public Safety and escalates a political tension at the General Assembly that is drawing comparisons to a gridlocked Washington.

"It amounts to government shutdown of one department on things that are very critical to public safety," said Senate Democratic leader Morgan Carroll of Aurora, referring to the Senate vote that may kill the bill.

Tensions have been escalated over normally routine appropriations bills this year after Republicans on the Joint Budget Committee led by Sen. Kent Lambert used the committee's power to cut off funding for a program to license undocumented drivers. As we discussed a few weeks ago, using the JBC to curtail funding for a program that isn't repealed legislatively results in major problems, and is considered an abuse of of the JBC's power. In the case of the driver license program, it means month-long delays for appointments will now stretch into next year, and only a single driver license office in Denver will be able to handle these applications–resulting in a more or less nonfunctional program that nonetheless remains on the books.

Of course, Republicans are fine with the driver license program for undocumented immigrants not working.

And that's the point to keep in mind as the Post's John Frank continues:

The public safety spending dispute focuses on an amendment that House Democrats added to the bill giving Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper's administration the authority to spend $370,000 to hire eight technicians to reduce the wait time for concealed-carry background checks.

The provision is tucked into a larger spending bill that includes $300,000 for the state's toxicology lab, $100,000 for child abuse investigations and $20,000 for law enforcement training on cold-case homicides and missing-persons cases, lawmakers said.

Republican lawmakers oppose the required background checks [Pols emphasis] and don't believe the estimates from Hickenlooper's administration about a backlog.

This morning, Senate Republicans gave final passage to a bill that would eliminate background checks and gun safety training required to obtain a concealed weapons permit in Colorado. A total of five states have eliminated permit requirements for concealed weapons, and the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners-controlled Colorado Senate wants Colorado to be the sixth. The bill has basically zero chance of passing the Democratic-controlled House, however, let alone being signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper. With legislation to repeal the gun safety bills passed in 2013 already headed for defeat, the idea that a bill to dramatically weaken gun laws could pass is simply not realistic.

So what's the next best option? Starve the Colorado Bureau of Investigations of funds to do the job! It's true that this will inconvenience the very same gun owners Republicans say they're looking out for, but who do you think they're going to blame? Certainly not Republicans.

The bigger problem is that by rejecting this spending bill, Republicans are playing games with the entire state Department of Public Safety. Much like the way budget games are played in Washington D.C. these days, large priorities are being held hostage to satisfy niche interests: in his case, the most extreme wing of the gun lobby. Ultimately, a concealed weapons permitting process that bogs down due to insufficient resources plays into the gun lobby's argument that permits should be eliminated–making it a worthwhile long-term goal to counterintuitively stand against properly funding CCW permits today.

It seems like this whole strategy depends on the press not reporting the details of what's happening here, which unfortunatety for Senate Republicans, John Frank has done admirably in this front-page story. We believe it's very unlikely that the voting public will look kindly on Republicans risking funding for things like child abuse investigations in order to strike a blow, however circuitous, against concealed weapons permits.

Which means that as long as the lights stay on and Democrats stand firm, this isn't going to end well for the Senate GOP.

Denver Police Union Calls For Chief White’s Resignation

Defaced Denver Police memorial.

Defaced Denver Police memorial.

In a development sure to have political ramifications, 9NEWS reports on a fresh war of words between the Denver Police Protective Association and DPD chief Robert White after a vandalism incident during a large anti-police brutality protest march Saturday:

The head of Denver's police union wants Chief Robert White gone.

He says officers were told not to take immediate action when protesters defaced a memorial for fallen officers.

"We will no longer follow him as we move forward," said Nick Rogers, president of the Denver Police Protective Association. "He is not our chief."

Saturday, demonstrators aiming to protest what they perceive as police brutality threw red paint on the memorial, which sits outside of Denver Police headquarters. Rogers says DPD brass told officers not to take immediate action.

As 9NEWS reports, Denver Police under Chief White have followed a less-confrontational policy when dealing with protest marches, identifying individual lawbreakers for later arrest as opposed to charging into crowds to break up illegal activities on sight. Our understanding is that in a life-threatening situation, police would still wade into a protest to restore order, but not for (as in this case) preventing petty vandalism committed by a small number of protesters. Two suspects have already been arrested over Saturday's incident.

We get up early to beat the crowds.

“We get up early to beat the crowds.”

Such a policy becomes more important to strictly adhere to, though we'd say it always should be important, when police respond to a protest against police brutality. In addition to the nationwide headlines in recent months over the issue of police killings and beatings of unarmed citizens, DPD itself has a long and unsettling record of police brutality–and a culture of mutual silence and protection among police officers accused of misconduct that has made cracking down on the problem very difficult. Repeated, well-publicized instances of obvious misconduct by Denver police, both in the commission and concealment of violence against undeserving citizens, have severely eroded the trust of the community they serve. Accountability for Denver police accused of misconduct remains slow, uneven, and too often dependent on the media forcing the hand of officials.

Bottom line: everything we have heard about Chief White suggests that he is genuinely committed to reforming both the public image and internal culture of the DPD, and this reflects creditably on Mayor Michael Hancock for appointing him. However emotional police officers may be about this memorial to fallen officers–and we don't want to disparage that legtimate sentiment–it would absolutely have been the wrong decision to break from established policy and violently charge into this crowd over what amounts to petty vandalism.

Chief White told rank and file that he found the vandalism "abhorrent" but said "I believe the decision we made was appropriate."

Rogers says the actions send a different message.

"The message I got was you, as a police officer, are not as important as our image," Rogers says.

In early December, several Denver Police officers were injured, one critically, in an unrelated car accident that followed a large walk-out of students from East High School protesting against police brutality. The same Denver police union at that time circulated rumors that students had jeered the injured officers, which was not corroborated by any of the numerous media outlets on scene or witnesses other than Denver police. The story made for good mythmaking on FOX News, but locally, it wasn't good for the police union's credibility. In this case, calling for the chief of police to resign for following his established policy, and not giving in to emotion where it could make his job harder in the long run, makes Chief White look like a hero.

As for the Denver Police Protective Association? Maybe it's time they reflect on who they're really supposed to be protecting. Because whether they realize it or not, this is not the "image" they want.

Reporter puts representative’s eight-hour gun delay in proper context

(What an injustice! – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Patrick Neville (R).

Rep. Patrick Neville (R).

The Colorado Statesman’s Marianne Goodland offered up a good tidbit of reporting in an article published yesterday, in which she aired out State Rep. Patrick Neville’s complaint that his gun purchases were twice denied because he failed a background check.

But Goodland put the problem in context by also reporting that Neville’s denial, due to a clerical error, was resolved in fewer than eight hours.

Goodland also reported the testimony of Ron Sloan, Director of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation:

Sloan cited statistics showing that almost 6,000 sales and transfers were halted because the buyer failed the background check. Some of the checks failed, Sloan said, because the buyers had convictions for crimes such as homicide, kidnapping, sexual assault, burglary and drug offenses.

So, in a post last week, I was wrong to write that no gun was denied to anyone who was legally entitled to one. It appears, in Neville’s case, an eight-hour delay occurred, due to a clerical error.

Isolated mistakes like Neville’s will inevitably happen, but is it worth it to keep thousands of real criminals from buying guns? That’s the question that flows from the facts reported by the Statesman. Are we willing to tolerate Neville’s rare inconvenience to keep guns out of the hands of murderers?

Democrats sponsoring magazine ban repeal bill

(This is a user-authored diary. To write your own, select "New Diary" from the menu to the right and spin away! – promoted by Colorado Pols) 

Don't look now, my Bloomberg-loving friends on the left, but some of your fellow Democrats are waving the white flag on gun control. The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reports:

Four Democrats have signed into a Senate bill that repeals a ban on large-capacity ammunition magazines, one of the most controversial measures of the 2013 legislative session.

Senate Democrats co-sponsoring the bill are Kerry Donovan of Vail, Cheri Jahn of Wheat Ridge and Leroy Garcia. In the House, Democrat Ed Vigil of Fort Garland is a co-sponsor. Vigil was vocal in his opposition of his party’s gun-control measures.

What will Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst do? If she sends it to the "kill committee" there will be outrage. If she allows the bill a fair hearing, it will pass the Democrat controlled House with bipartisan support and Hickenlooper will make the call. Hickenlooper has already admitted mistakes in signing the magazine ban bill. I believe if it gets to his desk, he will sign it.

I know most of you don't care what I think, but I am being completely honest with the Democrats who read this blog. LET THE MAG BAN GO. It was horrible policy from the beginning. It offends gun owners more than anything else you passed in 2013. If you allow the Democrats joining with Republicans to repeal the mag ban, it will help you politically. I can't believe I'm admitting that, but in this case I care more about my constitutional rights.

This is the most honest advice I will ever give the Democrats, so I hope you take it!

Republican Legislator Votes Against RMGO Gun Bill

Rep. Dan Thurlow (R).

Rep. Dan Thurlow (R).

Yesterday's action in the Colorado legislature on guns was mostly a party-line affair, with gun law rollback bills passing in the GOP-held Colorado Senate and dying in the Democratic controlled Colorado House. But as the Grand Junction Sentinel's Charles Ashby reports, there was one exception to this generally reliable rule:

The House committee also killed an expansion of the state’s law on the use of deadly force to businesses as a defense from prosecution, known as the Make My Day Better Law. Also killed were a bill to protect from liability in a gun-related incident a business that allows guns on its premises, and a measure that would make it easier to transfer military-style firearms, such as machine guns, missiles or grenades, to others. [Pols emphasis]

That last bill was the only one to see a Republican vote against it. That Republican was Rep. Dan Thurlow of Grand Junction.

This wasn't one of the marquee GOP bills repealing 2013 gun safety laws, but rather a significant weakening of protections on the transfer of military-grade weapons, explosives, etc.–weapons that require a much more stringent permitting process than ordinary guns for obvious reasons. The bill would have forced the Colorado Bureau of Investigations to produce a certificate signing off on such a transfer within five days, or a denial. Opponents argued that forcing the checks involved to be completed within five days could result in less thorough screening, which has clear public safety implications when we're talking about machine guns and rockets and stuff.

As Ashby suggests in his Tweet above, it's unusual to see a Republican vote contrary to the desires of the gun lobby, especially when it stands out as prominently as this–the only Republican vote with Democrats on any of these bills. We hope Rep. Dan Thurlow has fully considered the ramifications of defying the powerful Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, an organization that wields the bulk of its power in safe-seat GOP primaries.

You know, like Rep. Thurlow's safe seat.

It's not our intention to criticize Rep. Thurlow's vote, of course. Just a reminder that the gun lobby never forgets.

Once Again, “Gunmageddon” Fizzles At Colorado Capitol

Empty seats in Colorado House gun bill hearing yesterday.

Empty seats in Colorado House gun bill hearing yesterday.

Yesterday's debate over the repeal of 2013 gun safety legislation, as well as a few new bills to deregulate concealed carry permits and make it easier to transfer machine guns (yes, that's right), featured a number of interesting twists–on the way to an outcome that was more or less a foregone conclusion before the day began. As the Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reports:

The family of victims of gun violence provided the most dramatic testimony Monday afternoon as lawmakers in separate House and Senate committees debated seven Republican gun bills that loosened gun restrictions, expanded gun rights or overturned gun-control legislation Democrats passed two years ago.

"My sister had a right to life," said Jane Dougherty of Littleton, whose sibling was killed at Sandy Hook. "My sister had a right to grow old. … Nobody ever died from a background check."

Many of the arguments for or against the bills are the same ones lawmakers have heard before, but this time around there wasn't the vitriol that marked the 2013 hearings. Instead of hundreds of Coloradans descending on the Capitol, forcing staffers to set up overflow rooms, there were seats available in the committee rooms. [Pols emphasis]

A total of seven gun-related bills were debated, five in the House and two in the Senate. Everyone literate in the process in the building yesterday knew the Senate bills would make it out of committee, and the House bills would die. It's likely that the Senate bills will pass on the strength of that chamber's single-seat Republican majority, after which they will be sent to die in the same House State Affairs "kill committee" that killed five bills yesterday. All of this is just a sideshow, of course, since even if gun rights supporters were to somehow get any of these bills through the House and to Gov. John Hickenlooper's desk, he'll veto them and that's the end of it.

Despite this, both the National Rifle Association and Rocky Mountain Gun Owners heavily promoted yesterday's hearings to their members, urging them to turn out and testify in the large numbers seen when the 2013 laws were up for debate. Last year, the GOP introduced a similar slate of repeal bills, but lost face after the vast crowd of gun rights supporters from 2013 failed to turn out again. The excuse offered at that time by the gun lobby was that the efforts of their members were being directed to the upcoming elections.

So what's the excuse now, you ask?

Dudley Brown, head of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, the state's most strident gun rights group, says the reason Monday appeared fairly tame is many members felt they did their work in last year's election.

Except…they didn't.

After all the promises of vengeance against Democrats after the 2013 gun bill brouhaha, and the subsequent recall elections, it's obvious today that the gun issue did not result in the sweeping success for Republicans that Dudley Brown predicted. During a powerful Republican wave election that had everything to do with national political storylines and little to do with Colorado, Republicans took one chamber of the state legislature by a single seat–just like they did in the last Republican wave year. But they did not take full control of the legislature, and they did not elect a governor who will do their bidding. And for good measure, both Democratic seats lost in the 2013 recalls were retaken by wide margins–one of them by the former state director of the much-reviled Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

So what is this "work" that Dudley Brown has done? We know that Brown has raised tremendous sums of money agitating gun owners. But apart from winning a few more Republican primaries last year, RMGO has done basically nothing to create a political climate that could actually bring about repeal of the 2013 gun safety laws. And if that is not their "work," what is? Where is all that money going?

The fact is, yesterday was their chance: to re-energize the gun owning grassroots after the election, and show that the momentum coming out of the 2013 recalls has not been lost. The failure to even fill these hearings–let alone "overflow" areas to accommodate a larger crowd, and nothing remotely like the massive protests in 2013 in and outside the capitol–tells the story of a battle won two years ago, and a war lost today.

Gun misinformation and hyperbole should be called out

(Like we said – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

A man and his guns.

A man and his guns.

ColoradoPols did us a favor yesterday by trotting out some of the ridiculous misinformation delivered in 2013 by opponents of gun safety laws. And Pols pleaded with local reporters to correct such falsehoods this year.

As a example of what should be done, I direct your attention to a 2013 Denver Post editorial that corrected GOP Sen. Kent Lambert's statement, cited in the Pols post yesterday, that that lawmakers had “effectively banned gun ownership.”

Lambert’s statement, The Post wrote, was “not supported by the facts.”

Dahh, you say, but as Pols pointed out, that's what we need when our elected leaders stray from the obvious facts.

And it's also what we need when elected officials stray into wild hyperbole, that may not be demonstrably incorrect, per se, but should be called out as… wild hyperbole.

Last time around, for example, we heard this from respectable people under the gold dome:

Lambert: And now, you know, with everybody having their guns confiscated or taken away here over the next couple years, almost completely overturning the Second Amendment, what’s going to happen to our crime rate? [BigMedia editorial comment: two years have passed! Every legal gun owner still has her gun.]

And this in 2013:

State Rep. Kevin Priola compared banning some ammunition magazines to putting Japanese-Americans in internment camps during WWII.

And this in 2013:

Rep. Kevin Lundberg said on the radio that Colorado is getting “so close” to the point where he’ll be having his gun pried away from his “cold, dead hands.”

It's bad when a guy like Sen. State Sen. Randy Baumgardner claims falsely, as he did in 2013, that “hammers and bats” killed more people in America in 2012 than guns did.

His facts should be corrected.

But the scare tactics about gun confiscation should be confronted as well, with, among other things, the simple fact that it's been two years now and not a single legal gun holder has lost her weapon.

Tomorrow at the Capitol: Gunmageddon Groundhog Day!

cadmangroundhogday

The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels previews tomorrow's main event at the Colorado state capitol–debate on five House and two Senate bills to repeal or otherwise weaken gun safety laws in Colorado, including the repeal legislation passed in 2013 to require background checks on most transfers of guns and restrict gun magazine capacity to 15 rounds.

It's appropriate that Monday is Groundhog Day because the legislature is going to hear a slew of gun bills that will bring back memories of 2013.

It's too early to know whether drivers will circle the Capitol, horns honking, or whether a plane will fly overhead with a message for Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, all of which happened two years ago. But among the seven bills to be presented by Republicans, three will try to overturn some of the most debated measures of that session, which involve ammunition magazines and background checks.

In 2013, the debate over gun safety bills consumed a large part of that year's legislative session. The fight over bills introduced in the wake of the Aurora and Newtown, Connecticut mass shootings the prior year was by far the most contentious seen at the capitol in many years on any subject, with families and survivors affected by gun violence pitted in emotional testimony against irate and heavily misinformed (see below) supporters of gun rights. Over several days throughout the session, gun rights supporters staged noisy and disruptive rallies, flew a banner over the capitol that read "Hick–don't take our guns," and circled the capitol in caravans of vehicles blaring their horns.

One of the most important things to understand about the fury from gun rights supporters in 2013, which may or may not be repeated in the capitol in the coming days, is that it has always been heavily based on deliberately incendiary misinformation about what the laws in question actually do. This is most easily demonstrated in the case of the universal background check law, House Bill 13-1229. During last year's debate over a bill to repeal this law, Victor Head, the principal organizer of the successful recall campaign against Sen. Angela Giron, testified that telling voters this law would prevent transfers between immediate family members–his examples was one's "brother"–was highly persuasive in getting them to sign the recall petition. Likewise, Bartels quotes the sponsor of this year's universal background check repeal bill, Rep. Janak "Dr. Nick" Joshi, claiming that transferring a gun "within a family" is not permitted without a background check:

"If someone wants to transfer a gun within a family, [Pols emphasis] or transfer heirloom guns or antique guns, [Pols emphasis] why do they need to pay for a background check when it's a Second Amendment right?" said Rep. Janak Joshi, R-Colorado Springs.

It appears that the sponsor of legislation to repeal universal background checks is not aware that transfers of guns between immediate family, as well as transfers of antique guns as defined by federal law, are allowed without a background check. Two years after its passage, Rep. Joshi is simply not telling the truth about what this law does. When Victor Head admitted that he used this same outright lie to get recall petition signatures, the controversy that ensued in the local press resulted in clarification from Gov. John Hickenlooper's office that yes, transfers between family members are perfectly legal under HB13-1229.

So why is Joshi still saying the opposite? And why doesn't this news story check his facts?

(more…)

Lundberg Strikes Again: Pedophile Day Care, Anyone?

Sen. Kevin Lundberg (R).

Sen. Kevin Lundberg (R).

The Denver Post's Christopher Osher reports on the latest bill up for debate from hard-right Republican Sen. Kevin Lundberg–and it's a doozy:

"We are licensing child care out of existence in far too many corners of the state," said Lundberg, who also is chairman of the Senate's Health and Human Services Committee, which will consider the legislation. "My alternative says there is an elegant solution to this bureaucratic problem, and it recognizes that smaller facilities are much better served when we stay out of the way and stop driving people out of business."

But child welfare advocates say Colorado's licensing program isn't driving providers out of business. They say costs for providers are minimal — between $63.50 to $154.50 for an initial application and criminal background checks per home. They also fear Lundberg's move could run afoul of recent federal legislation and jeopardize federal aid the state receives for child care vouchers that go to low-income parents who are working or enrolled in job training or school.
 
They believe the state's licensing program saves lives by setting uniform safety standards and requiring criminal background checks for providers and those living in their homes. [Pols emphasis] They also point out that licensed providers must take 16.5 hours of training before opening and must take an additional 15 hours annually to keep licenses current. Child care operators say the cost of all the courses is less than $150.

Given the low cost of compliance with the licensing requirements as they exist today, it's tough to argue that this is a major contributor to the high cost of child care in Colorado. On the other hand, the peace of mind of leaving one's children with a care provider who has passed a criminal background check in order to receive a child care license has a very high value indeed.

Once you accept that a $150 license and a modest bit of education is not meaningfully driving up the cost of child care, there really is no good reason for this proposal at all. To be honest, the reason to push this bill completely escapes us, because its stated justification is so easily disproven it calls the true motives for the bill into question. Is the point really to make it easier for criminals to run child care centers?

As silly as that sounds, Sen. Lundberg's response to the question honestly makes you wonder:

"Parents are the ones that need to know that they're the actual stopgap that protects children when they drop them off anywhere," Lundberg said. "They better make sure just who they are leaving their children with." [Pols emphasis]

And how are parents supposed to do that? Maybe with–wait for it–a background check? Like the one you have to pass to get a child care license? Even when you disagree with a legislative proposal, it's usually possible to see how the rationale behind said proposal could make some kind of sense to a reasonable person–maybe not you, but some number of people depending on their point of view.

But not this time. This is just an irredeemably bad idea–and for a Republican caucus that grandstanded mandatory sentences for sex offenders, and constantly represents itself as "tough on crime" at the expense of Democrats, the introduction of such a counterproductive bill makes no sense.

Vicki Marble’s Pack Heat Everywhere Act

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One of the emerging stories as the 2015 Colorado legislative session gets under way is what appears to be a more robust attempt by Republicans and gun-rights activists to repeal the 2013 gun safety bills passed in response to the Aurora shooting and other high-profile gun violence incidents the previous year. In 2014, Republicans introduced a similar slate of legislation repealing basically all of the gun bills passed in 2013, but Democrats weren't budging–and the gun activists' ability to draw huge crowds to the Capitol in opposition to these bills in 2013 failed to materialize in last year's session.

It's possible that gun activists, emboldened beyond all reason by last year's recall elections, were counting on a Republican sweep at the polls in 2014. But with Democrats remaining in control of the Colorado House, both recalled Senate seats retaken by Democrats, and Gov. John Hickenlooper re-elected, it's highly unlikely that we'll see any of 2013's gun safety bills repealed. Whether that hard reality motivates or once again suppresses the gun lobby's activist turnout is yet to be seen, but if their excuse in 2014 was that they were waiting for their electoral triumph…they'll need to keep waiting.

In the meantime, Republican Sen. Vicki Marble, one of the Colorado Senate's least reality-tethered members, isn't waiting to repeal 2013's gun safety bills to charge ahead with her own Rocky Mountain Gun Owners pet priority: doing away with restrictions on the carrying of concealed weapons. Check out the summary of Marble's Senate Bill 15-032:

The bill allows a person who legally possesses a handgun under state and federal law to carry a concealed handgun in Colorado. A person who carries a concealed handgun under the authority created in the bill has the same carrying rights and is subject to the same limitations that apply to a person who holds a permit to carry a concealed handgun under current law, including the prohibition on the carrying of a concealed handgun on the grounds of a public elementary, middle, junior high, or high school.

Of course, RMGO is hard at work on the guns on school grounds angle too–just not in this bill. We don't expect Marble's "Guns for Everyone" bill to fare any better than the repeal bills, of course, but the contrast couldn't be clearer between the agendas of the two parties on guns. One is within the mainstream of public opinion on the issue, and one is not. The best way to demonstrate just how far out of the mainstream Sen. Marble's bill is? The National Rifle Association's own polling shows that 74% of NRA members–not just the public, NRA members–believe concealed carriers should complete some kind of gun safety training first.

So who are the reasonable actors here? It's self-evident, folks.

Latest Right Wing Fantasy: NAACP Bombing a “Hoax”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Charles C. Johnson wants attention. He wants digital pageviews on his website**' so that he can keep promoting himself as some kind of conservative wonderboy crusader for the truth. He isn't trusted among credible journalists along the political spectrum. He tends to regard morals, ethics and truth to be insignificant obstacles when pursuing a breaking news story. And if the truth isn't flashy enough, Johnson will fix it up until it is sexy enough to bring readers to his site.

Charles Johnson, of gotnews.com, interviewed on Redstate 12/21/14 Johnson's latest attempt to fire up the right wing blogosphere is his claim that the Tuesday, January 6, 2015 attempted firebombing of the NAACP headquarters in Colorado Springs was a hoax. His story has been shared throughout the right wing blogosphere – Twitchy, Drudge, Newsmax, and dozens more are gleefully proclaiming that the NAACP faked the bombing.

Johnson, a blogger based in Fresno, California, (pictured on Redstate, above), used the Google Earth program to find an existing dark splotch on the NAACP HQ which existed before the attempted bombing. See Google Earth screen cap, right.

However, video from  the Democracy Now story clearly shows two marks, one angling upward, one downward. The Blogger littlegreenfootballs has a nice summation of the Google Earth "evidence". Mark Reiss' photo from the Gazette, reprinted in Jesse Paul's Denver Post story, also clearly shows both marks next to each other. (below)

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Top Ten Stories of 2014: So Much For Those Recalls (#5)

Aurora shooting memorial, July 2012.

Aurora shooting memorial, July 2012.

In 2013, the Democratic-controlled Colorado General Assembly took action to pass limited enhancements of gun safety laws. This was done in the wake of high profile mass shooting incidents in the prior year, including the July 2012 killing of 12 moviegoers, with 70 more injured, at the Century Theater in Aurora. Colorado is a traditional Western state with historically restrained gun ownership regulations, but after the 1999 shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, the state began to chart a different course by requiring background checks for sales of firearms at gun shows. Republican Gov. Bill Owens also gave the Colorado Bureau of Investigations responsibility for carrying out the instant background checks required under federal law after the federal checks missed information that could have stopped a Castle Rock man from buying a gun and killing his children in 1999.

The 2013 legislature passed new laws limiting the capacity of gun magazines sold in the state to 15 rounds, tightening regulation of concealed carry permit courses, protecting victims of domestic violence from gun-owning exes, and (most importantly) requiring background checks to be conducted for most sales and private transfers of guns in the state. Many other states introduced gun safety legislation in the wake of the Aurora and Newtown, Connecticut shootings, but Colorado was one of very few states that successfully passed them–standing out all the more because of the state's gun-owning Western heritage. The reason gun safety efforts in most states and the federal level sputtered after gaining substantial traction after Newtown was simple: the powerful gun lobby unleashed an onslaught of money and organizing to stop these proposals, and to destroy the public officials who backed them.

Rep. Rhonda Fields (D).

Rep. Rhonda Fields (D).

That Colorado Democrats in the General Assembly and Gov. John Hickenlooper withstood the gun lobby's over-the-top campaign against gun safety legislation is testament to an incredible level of discipline within the Democratic caucus–as well as the personal conviction of many members like Rep. Rhonda Fields of Aurora. Survivors and family members impacted by Columbine, the Aurora and Newtown shootings, and the gun violence that plagues communities in Colorado and across America offered riveting testimony. At the same time, the gun lobby and Republicans in the General Assembly launched into hysterics against the bills, flooding the debate with misleading hyperbolic jargon, and often complete nonsense. While Republicans were given wide latitude by the local media to level wild allegations about the consequences of the bills, Democratic gaffes and late-night outbursts of stupidity during the long debate were subjected to disproportionate scrutiny.

As readers know, the legislative battle over gun safety resulted in the first-ever successful recalls of two sitting Democratic state senators in September of 2013. Senate President John Morse, the former police officer who fearlessly led the fight to pass these bills, lost his urban Colorado Springs seat by a very narrow margin to city councilman Bernie Herpin. In Pueblo, Sen. Angela Giron fell victim to Byzantine local political squabbles egged on by the gun lobby's vengeance–losing her "safe" Democratic seat by a much greater margin than Morse to former Pueblo cop George Rivera. For a time, it certainly looked like the Independence Institute's Jon Caldara was correct: a "wave of fear" from these historic recalls would chill gun safety efforts across the nation: and maybe persuade frightened Colorado Democrats to roll back the laws pass in 2013.

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