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?

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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

LogoBGFlag

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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RMGO “Will Not Comply” (With Colorado Election Law)

RMGOPistol

Colorado Independent:

Buried in the deep black news-hole that was the Friday after Christmas Day came a decision in a Colorado campaign finance case filed against bare-knuckles right-wing political group Rocky Mountain Gun Owners.

Administrative Law Judge Robert Spencer found that mailer campaigns put together by Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and the Colorado Campaign for Life violated Colorado’s disclosure laws and ordered the groups each to pay $8450 each in fines.

Rocky Mountain Gun Owners has long been a bruising — some would say bullying — force in Colorado conservative politics. The group aims to move the state Republican Party to the right by targeting candidates and lawmakers that seem “soft” on what it considers core issues like gun rights and abortion. The group also opposes campaign finance disclosure laws as a whole, seeing them as a violation of First Amendment protections on free speech.

From Colorado Ethics Watch's release, that argument didn't wash:

CCL and RMGO hired a Washington, DC-area law firm to file a federal lawsuit against Ethics Watch and the Colorado Secretary of State to block the hearing, argung that Colorado's disclosure law is unconstitutional. On December 16, federal judge Robert E. Blackburn allowed the case to proceed in state administrative court, noting that Judge Spencer has jurisdiction to resolve at least some of CCL's and RMGO's First Amendment challenges to Colorado law. In his ruling, Judge Spencer rejected all of CCL's and RMGO's arguments that the First Amendment allows them to electioneer without obeying Colorado disclosure laws about money in politics.

The unfortunate fact is that an $8,450 fine is not nearly enough to deter an organization like Rocky Mountain Gun Owners from violating Colorado campaign finance disclosure laws in the future. After the 2013 battle of gun safety legislation in the Colorado legislature, RMGO raised vast sums of money, and a fine of this size can be easily built into their operating budget without any real impact on their operations–and that's assuming the fines aren't waived by an accommodating Secretary of State, like we've had for four years and are about to inaugurate for another four.

mario

But the real irony of this may be that RMGO's violations of Colorado campaign finance law, long a bête noire of Colorado Republicans, were for attacks on fellow Republicans. RMGO sent the mailings in question in support of their favored GOP primary candidates in Senate Districts 19 and 22–Laura Waters Woods and Tony Sanchez respectively. In both cases, these hard-right Republicans beat establishment candidates who were considered much more electable in the general election. Sanchez went on to be defeated by incumbent Andy Kerr, and while Waters Woods narrowly ousted SD-19's appointed Democrat, Republicans would feel much more comfortable defending that seat in two years had Lang Sias won this year's primary. The large sum Republicans spent trying to defend Sias in particular from RMGO's onslaught is a major sore point today–and without that backing for Woods in 2016, Democratic odds improve further for swiftly retaking this critical swing seat.

Looking back at their last two years, no one can discount RMGO's formidability as a political force in Colorado. This organization that uses the tagline "I Will Not Comply" has proven they mean it, especially when it comes to intra-GOP politics. But from walking embarrassments Sen. Vicki Marble to avoidable losers like Tony Sanchez–not to mention the loss this year of both Senate seats won in last year's recall elections–what RMGO accomplishes outside the bubble of red-on-red infighting is not so easily characterized as a success.

The one thing we know is that this slap on the wrist won't even slow them down.

Farewell To Terry Maketa, El Paso County’s “Shirtless Sheriff”

nramagsheriffs

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa.

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa.

As the Colorado Springs Gazette's Stephens Hobbs reports, embattled outgoing El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa has submitted his resignation:

Maketa plans to retire Dec. 31, the Sheriff's Office confirmed Thursday, and an interim sheriff will be appointed by county commissioners Tuesday, to take over Jan. 1. It is expected that Sheriff-elect Bill Elder will be chosen to head the agency before his official term begins Jan. 13.

The switch comes two months after Ray Deeny, attorney for the law firm Sherman & Howard, substantiated some claims against Maketa. In a public briefing to El Paso County commissioners Oct. 30, Deeny said Maketa violated policies and procedures of the Sheriff's Office, intimidated employees and gave special treatment to and had inappropriate relationships with three female subordinates. Maketa and Undersheriff Paula Presley also mishandled internal affairs files, among other unacceptable acts, Deeny said.

It was a searing outcome to an investigation that Maketa said in June would "clear up a lot of myths that are going around."

None of his former friends will cop to it now (see what we did there?), but Sheriff Maketa's prospects for an upwardly mobile career in Republican politics were once very bright–even drawing mentions as a possible candidate for the 5th Congressional District, or at the very least, a shoo-in for a seat in the Colorado General Assembly like Maketa's erstwhile best buddy, Sen-elect and outgoing Weld County Sheriff John Cooke–see heroic NRA Magazine cover above.

Today, not only is Maketa exiting stage left, but a perceptible reluctance by (former?) buddy DA Dan May to get on with the felony investigations that resulted in Maketa's slightly resignation could widen the scandal:

District Attorney Dan May has declined to address the status of the investigation or if he has been asked to convene a grand jury and deferred questions to the CBI. A spokeswoman for the CBI declined to comment on the investigation, saying it is ongoing…

"These crimes were reported directly to the District Attorney's Office several months ago and nothing has been done," [attorney Erik Jensen] said. "It's just really concerning when a sheriff commits felonies and nobody's willing to step in and do anything." [Pols emphasis]

Maketa, as our readers will remember well, led the opposition by the majority of Colorado's elected county sheriffs to the state's new gun safety laws in 2013. Maketa in particular made all kinds of incendiary accusations during the legislative debate over these bills, claiming that Democrats had threatened sheriff pay over their opposition (they didn't), and helping legitimize what's widely believed to be significant noncompliance with the new laws by claiming that his office could not/would not (depending on the audience) enforce them. Maketa also controversially attended NRA-sponsored press events in the middle of the devastating Black Forest Fire.

Well folks, without making any inferences about our state's almost exclusively Republican elected sheriffs–most of whom, it should be noted, have not been caught running a salacious personal fiefdom out of their official office–it's time to consider that at least some of the opponents of our state's new gun safety laws just aren't very good at following the law.

Because that appears to be the story of "Shirtless" Sheriff Terry Maketa.

Ken Buck: Stop Protesting Police Brutality Because 9/11

TUESDAY UPDATE: Raw Story:

Buck did not mention that protests against the grand jury decisions in the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases have remained largely peaceful. He also failed to mention data showing that African-American men constitute a higher percentage of victims in fatal shootings involving police.

Instead, he accused the media of giving “activists, athletes and members of Congress” a wide platform through which to question police officers’ motives…

Buck did not mention officers like Richmond, California Police Chief Chris Magnus or retired Philadelphia captain Ray Lewis, who have both joined in demonstrations in their respective cities.

—–

Rep.-elect Ken Buck.

Rep.-elect Ken Buck.

A fascinating guest opinion column published this weekend in the Colorado Springs Gazette by Rep.-elect Ken Buck, the outgoing arch-conservative Weld County district attorney now headed for Congress. The subject? All those big meanie protesters out there demonstrating against recent killings by police of unarmed African-American men and young boys. Are you aware that these protesters are totally hurting cops' feelings?

Have we forgotten 9/11? Do we remember the police officers, firefighters and EMS teams who died trying to save innocent victims of a terrorist attack? Alongside brave firefighters and selfless EMS teams, 23 courageous New York City police officers and 37 Port Authority officers gave their lives that day without hesitation. As district attorney, I see that courage every day from our law enforcement officers and know the price they pay…

It's easy for activists, athletes and members of Congress to question the motives of police officers. The media provides them with a broad platform to perpetuate their hateful tone, harsh criticisms, and mistruths. But when was the last time you heard someone call 911 to report an intruder in their home and ask for a congressman to come help them? Heck, Congress doesn't have the courage to tackle tough issues, much less a fleeing felon.

Got that, folks? Some cops died on 9/11. And none of these wussy members of Congress will save you from a burglar, with the obvious possible exception of Ken Buck. So stop complaining about cops blowing away unarmed brown people, will you? They all look alike to Buck anyway.

It gets better:

To foist generalizations and wild accusations of racial bias on them is hypocritical, disrespectful, and dangerous. Doing so won't make minority communities safer – it will simply harm the morale of our law enforcement officers and endanger them.

The United States is fortunate to have one of the most equitable justice systems in the world, even if it is not perfect. Those casting stones at police officers show an incredible lack of foresight about the problems they are causing by stoking racial divisions. We should appreciate the sacrifices police officers make to keep America safe and peaceful, not add fuel to the fire that is dividing our country.

You see, America, the problem is not that unarmed minority males get shot, chokeholded, beaten, and otherwise abused by police at vastly higher rates than whites in America–including here in Colorado, where black and Hispanic men are much more likely to be shot by police than white men. The real problem is that by taking note of these brown people getting killed by police, protesters are "harming the morale" of…the police. In Buck's world, it's not the shooting of black and Hispanic men that stokes "racial divisions"–it's complaining about it!

And with that, our nation can finally begin to heal.

Fact Check: Police officers were leaving East High protest when struck

Dan Caplis.

Dan Caplis.

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Denver talk-radio host Dan Caplis implies in a Denver Post op-ed today that an East High School protest should be blamed for the serious injuries suffered by a Denver Police officer struck by a car near the demonstration.

KNUS 710-AM's Caplis writes that the officer, John Adsit, "was horribly injured while trying to protect the lawbreakers."

In fact, Adsit was hit by the car as he was returning to his beat after escorting the protesters on their march. The protest was still happening when Adsit was hit, but Adsit was going back to his 16th Street Mall assignment.

This fact was reported by Denver Post reporter Jesse Paul and Tim McGhee, who covered the accident December 3.

Paul's reporting isn't crystal clear on the matter, so I emailed him Saturday to confirm that my interpretation was correct. (Disclosure: My kids go to East.)

Paul confirmed that, yes, Adsit was returning to his beat as the protest continued.

Not that it matters anyway. Adsit was struck by someone experiencing a medical problem. It had nothing to do with the protest. It was a random tragedy.

In any case, Caplis should set a better example for East students and the rest of us by making sure he gets his facts correct. And, of course, he should apologize for the error.

Tensions High As CIA Torture Report Nears Release

Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO).

Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO).

UPDATE #3: Republicans angrily pushing back against the Intelligence Committee's report, MSNBC:

GOP members of the committee who withdrew their support for its investigation released their own 167-page “minority views” response to the Democratic report, arguing that the detention and interrogation program “saved lives and played a vital role in weakening al Qa-ida.”

The dissenting committee members – Sens. Saxby Chambliss, Richard Burr, Jim Risch, Daniel Coats, Marco Rubio and Tom Coburn – are just some of the many Republican lawmakers up in arms over the comprehensive review of controversial CIA interrogation techniques, which they warned would lead to violent reprisals that would endanger American personnel and jeopardize intelligence interests.

“I cannot think of a greater disservice to our men and women serving in the military and in our intelligence field than to hand terror groups like ISIL another recruiting tool and excuse to target them,” Republican Sen. John Cornyn said in statement issued Tuesday. “Due to the political calculations of some, the American people and our allies across the globe are less safe today than they were before.”

The CIA and it supporters also went on the offensive Tuesday, with the publication of a pro-interrogation op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by former CIA Directors George J. Tenet, Porter J. Goss and Michael V. Hayden, as well as the creation of a website, “CIA Saved Lives,” by former agency officials.

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UPDATE #2: Here's the report.

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UPDATE: Sen. Mark Udall via Twitter responds to today's report:

Udall's full statement:

Mark Udall, who led efforts to hold the White House, CIA and intelligence agencies accountable to the American people, welcomed the declassification today of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence's exhaustive study of the CIA's brutal, ineffective and misguided detention and interrogation program.

The Senate Intelligence Committee released the executive summary of the report today following months of negotiations with the White House and CIA — a process Udall fought to keep moving forward. Udall also had threatened to take any step necessary to get the truth out if negotiators for the committee and executive branch could not reach an accord that kept faith with the important transparency the report represents.

"The release of the executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee's study of the CIA's detention and interrogation program is an historic victory for our nation, the Constitution, and our system of checks and balances. This study ensures that the truth about the CIA’s brutal torture program finally comes out and that the agency can learn from its repeated missteps and start to restore its integrity," Udall said. "My goal from day one has been holding the CIA accountable, shedding light on this dark chapter of our history, and ensuring neither the CIA nor any future administration would make these grievous mistakes ever again. The report released today achieves those goals and affirms that we are a nation that does not hide from its past, but learns from it.

"We can protect our national security without compromising who we are as Americans. This landmark study — and the millions of pages of agency documents and testimony it is based upon — shows that torture is not effective and does not make us safer."

Udall has been the leading proponent of swiftly declassifying the Senate Intelligence Committee's exhaustive study on the CIA's detention and interrogation program. Following the Senate Intelligence Committee's vote this spring to declassify the study, Udall called on the White House to speed declassification of the study and prevent the CIA from interfering with its public release.

Udall also has aggressively pushed back on intelligence officials and anonymous leaks that have sought to discredit the Senate Intelligence Committee's study and prevent the truth about the CIA's brutal torture program from coming out.

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(more…)

At Least She’s Not Your Gubernatorial Candidate (Anymore)

On the subject of the protests raging across America over police brutality against African Americans, Roni Bell Sylvester, who Colorado political trivia aficionados will remember was a minor candidate in last year's Republican gubernatorial primary, has a very simple suggestion:

sylvesterprotesters

What a great idea–why can't we just keep these uppity urban protesters busy in the fields?

Why hasn't anybody suggested this? We'd swear we've heard this before. Wait, never mind, history class!

Oh, wait a minute…

Denver Police Union Makes Serious, Dubious Allegation

pparelease

9NEWS reports on shocking accusations leveled yesterday by the Denver Police Protective Association, the union representing police officers in Denver:

The Denver police union says protestors marching against the Ferguson grand jury decision cheered and chanted "hit him again" after four officers were hit by a runaway car.

Several other police sources tell 9NEWS crime and justice reporter Anastasiya Bolton that there is evidence as well as DPD witnesses to the fact that some students cheered after the officers were struck.

The irony of police being injured while protecting students protesting against police misconduct should not be lost on anyone, including the students who were marching Wednesday when the officers were struck. With that said, there does seem to be an attempt here to discredit entirely lawful protest with an apparently unrelated and tragic accident by the police union. Even if there were a few bad-mannered students who heckled, it would be wrong to blame all the protesters, or impugn the larger reasons for protesting against police misconduct based on any such unrepresentative actions.

Especially since, as the Denver Post reports, the "evidence" referred to above doesn't appear to exist.

Although some obscenities were directed at police while they were escorting the East High School protesters, Denver Post journalists witnessed no cheering after a Mercedes hit four officers. Students who were interviewed expressed concern about the injuries. [Pols emphasis]

In its response to the union, the Denver Police Department said it could not independently confirm claims that students cheered.

"If in fact there were inappropriate actions taken by a few students Chief (Robert) White does not believe this reflects the opinions of the vast majority of protesters," according to the police statement.

Backlash from the Denver police union isn't happening in a vacuum, of course–protests around the nation over the failure to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson after the killing of African American teenager Michael Brown have been met with angry responses from police associations, including the now-famous exchange between members of the St. Louis Rams and that city's police officer's association after several Rams players took the field last weekend with their hands up in "don't shoot" protest. At least to some extent, you can't blame them: police unions are logically going to defend the honor of their members and profession at a time when both are subject to widespread questioning.

But scapegoating a few misguided students–assuming what's alleged even happened–isn't the way to do that.