Gun-rights activists and the Republican legislators who love them are crowing about news reports Friday from a meeting in Aspen of the County Sheriffs of Colorado, wherein Gov. John Hickenlooper reportedly apologized to the state's elected county sheriffs for the handling of the passage of new gun safety laws in the 2013 legislative session. As the Grand Junction Sentinel's Dennis Webb reports:
“I’m happy to say I apologize. I don’t think we did a good job on any of that stuff,” Hickenlooper said, although he didn’t indicate a desire to revisit either bill.
He did, however, revisit his desire to tell sheriffs he’s sorry for how the situation was handled, after Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith reiterated the frustration over not being able to confer with Hickenlooper before the measures were passed.
“How many apologies do you want?” a smiling Hickenlooper said, eliciting chuckles from sheriffs. ” … I apologize.”
9NEWS' Brandon Rittiman adds:
A Hickenlooper spokesman confirms that the Governor apologized to the sheriffs for not meeting with them prior to the passage of gun control bills they opposed. Hickenlooper also said his administration didn't do a good job anticipating pushback on gun control. According to his spokesman, Hickenlooper pledged better communication in the future.
That account is consistent with a description of Hickenlooper's comments posted on the Montezuma County Sheriff's Office Facebook page. The sheriff's office posting makes additional claims about Hickenlooper's comments that 9NEWS could not independently confirm without listening to a recording of the Governor's remarks.
Here are those "additional claims" from Montezuma County Sheriff's Facebook page, which 9NEWS could not confirm:
The Governor apologized to the Sheriffs for not listening to them prior to passing the new gun bills. The Governor admitted his Office did not research the gun legislation until after it was passed. Governor Hickenlooper said he didn't realize it was going to cause such controversy and had he known he would not have endorsed the new gun laws without more research.
According to notes from the conversation published at KRDO and Hickenlooper's spokesman Eric Brown, this is a wildly inaccurate version of what Hickenlooper actually said.
I didn't find out sheriffs wanted to meet with me till a week later. I apologize for that. Lots of other issues going on at same time. I didn't think it was going to have the affect on people that it turned out to have. We should have done better. I apologize. I don't think we did a good job.
We didn't do a good job on the process. When speaking with Republicans across the state they supported universal background checks. But when none of the Republican legislators supported it, I knew we had a problem. [Pols emphasis] So we went back and got the facts (during the legislative process)…
Brown says that both the governor and his staff researched the issue extensively before the legislation was signed.
We'll start by saying that making any apology to these elected, almost to-a-man Republican county sheriffs was a big political mistake for Gov. Hickenlooper. The biggest reason is demonstrated by the Montezuma County Sheriff's blatant misquote–these political adversaries are never going to legitimately accept such an apology, and will freely misuse it to suit their political agenda. Many of the leaders of the sheriff's opposition to the 2013 gun safety bills, like Weld County Sheriff and Colorado Senate candidate John Cooke and El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa, are closely tied to Dudley Brown's Rocky Mountain Gun Owners organization. Do you think RMGO cares about quoting people accurately?
Speaking of Terry Maketa, has anybody asked if the no-shirt rule at the capitol made it tough to attend meetings? We digress.
Bottom line: it's just laughable–absolutely laughable–to suggest that opponents of the 2013 gun safety bills were not heard. The sheriffs testified at the hearings. Opponents flooded at the capitol by the hundreds. They held rallies outside. They circled the capitol blaring their car horns for hours on end. They flew a banner over the capitol saying "Gov. Hickenlooper, don't take our guns." The sheriffs were in front of news cameras on a more or less daily basis. Politically, the whole experience has been great for them, great for RMGO, great for pretty much everybody except the Democratic legislators who put their careers on the line to pass these bills.
For their sake, Gov. Hickenlooper needs to be a lot more careful with his conflict-averse brown nosing.