Who Is Rep. Libby Szabo Protecting?

libbyszabo

The Denver Post's Anthony Cotton reports on today's passage of a Democratic bill to toughen sentences for child sex offenders:

The reading of a bill designed to create mandatory minimum sentences for those convicted of crimes against children advanced Monday in the House, but not before some heated debate between Democrats and Republicans over how closely it hewed to ground-breaking legislation in Florida…

Both bills were heard in the House's State Affairs committee two weeks ago, with the Democratic-controlled group killing Szabo's bill while moving Foote's.

Szabo sought to mirror the Florida law, which includes a 25-year minimum sentence for offenders over the age of 18 as well as a provision that if the person were released early on parole, he or she would have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. Foote's bill would stagger sentences that range from 10 to 48 years based on the seriousness of the crime and if it's ruled a class 1, 2 or 3 felony.

The Democrats accused the Republicans of trying to "cut and paste" the Florida law onto the Colorado statutes, adding that Foote's proposed legislation has the support of Lunsford's family. [Pols emphasis]

The passage of a so-called "Jessica's Law," mandating long sentences for sex crimes against children this year, came after a disgusting episode in the last legislative session, where Rep. Libby Szabo, the bill's primary sponsor, accused Democratic House Speaker Mark Ferrandino of "obviously protecting someone" after the 2013 bill died in a House committee. In reality, stakeholders including the Colorado District Attorneys' Council, and victim's advocates like the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault opposed Szabo's bill because Colorado already has very tough sentencing for perpetrators of sex crimes against children. The approach favored by Democrats this year, and still supported by advocates for "Jessica's Law," acknowledges the tough status quo and further strengthens sentencing–within a framework that attempts to make the punishment fit the crime.

But that wasn't enough for Szabo today, who warned darkly:

(more…)

RMGO Goes To War Against The GOP

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

SUNDAY POLS UPDATE: The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels:

The three RMGO-backed Senate candidates in Jefferson County are Tony Sanchez, Laura Woods and Tim Neville. Sanchez faces Nicolais in the GOP primary for the Senate seat now held by Democrat Andy Kerr, while Woods faces Sias in the GOP primary for the Senate seat now held by Democrat Rachel Zenzinger. Neville so far has no primary opponent, and is expected to face Democrat Jeanne Nicholson in November.

Rocky Mountain Gun Owners claims in its Facebook post that the party is allowing “campaign operatives” for “anti-gun” candidates Sias and Nicolais to work in the Jeffco office and have “exclusive access to key data” that could give them an advantage in the June 24 primary. Brown also claimed in a fundraising letter that the party is “giving preferential treatment to the candidates who refused to fill out our survey.”

Nicolais, who is a member of the NRA, pointed out that he didn’t bother to fill out the survey for the same reason he didn’t fill out the AFL-CIO survey: He wasn’t going to get the endorsement. He said he received the survey after the gun group already endorsed Sanchez.

—–

Not that it's really anything new, but Dudley Brown of the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners is again causing trouble. 

In an email sent to RMGO members and supports this morning, Brown stated that:

RMGO-PAC has received word from multiple sources that the Jefferson County Republican Party is now turning away volunteers that openly support conservatives in the area

If that sounds strange to you, it should. But he goes on to explain that he doesn't mean ALL conservatives…

The party is asking volunteers, at the door, who they are supporting in contested State Senate primaries, and if they answer "Laura Woods", "Tony Sanchez" and "Tim Neville" (RMGO-PAC endorsed candidates), the volunteers are asked to leave.

That's a pretty bold accusation. And if true, could lead to some interesting GOP intra-party drama come County Assembly, which is on March 22. 

(more…)

The Nuge Still Shilling For The Tanc

nugear15

Media Matters via Mike Littwin at the Colorado Independent:

National Rifle Association board member Ted Nugent is fundraising for Republican Colorado gubernatorial candidate Tom Tancredo weeks after Texas gubernatorial hopeful Greg Abbott caused a firestorm of controversy for campaigning with Nugent after the NRA figurehead made a racist comment about President Obama.

According to a March 4 article in The Colorado Independent, Nugent sent a fundraising e-mail on behalf of Tancredo that asked for donations of $25 or more to be entered into a raffle for an AR-15 assault weapon. In a letter addressed to "Real Americans," Nugent warned that "Barack Obama and his radical America-hating leftist goons are perilously close to taking away our guns and nullifying the Second Amendment." According to Nugent, "Tom Tancredo is running for Governor in one of the most anti-gun states in the union, so he urgently needs our help. That's why we're giving away a free AR-15 to a fellow gung-ho supporter." Nugent praised Tancredo for "opposing President Bush's wasteful spending spree, amnesty for illegal immigrants, and of course, insane infringements to our sacred Second Amendment rights."

An image of Nugent's latest fundraising letter follows. We are a little surprised to see Tom Tancredo still using aging rocker Ted Nugent as a fundraising pitchman, after Nugent very grudgingly apologized for referring to President Barack Obama as a "subhuman mongrel"–an apparent reference to the fact that Obama had a black father and a white mother. If that kind of talk seems more at home in the pre-civil rights era South than a mainstream political campaign in 2014, you're probably not alone.

Nugent's presence on the campaign trial recently caused headaches for a different Republican gubernatorial candidate. In Texas, Greg Abbott received widespread criticism for hosting campaign events with Nugent, who is also a spokesman for the Outdoor Channel, after Nugent recently termed Obama a "subhuman mongrel." Abbott was also widely criticized for campaigning with someone who had made numerous profane and derogatory comments about women, including calling Hillary Clinton a "toxic cunt" and "worthless bitch." Even prominent members of the GOP condemned Nugent, with Arizona Sen. John McCain adding, "That kind of thing is beyond the pale, and I hope that our candidate down there learned a lesson." Nugent eventually offered a disingenuous apology — "not necessarily to the president" — for his "subhuman mongrel" comment and Abbott stated publicly he had no plans to hold future events with Nugent.

Tancredo primary voters are less likely to be troubled. And apparently, so is Tancredo.

(more…)

Finally, The End Of The Endless “Jessica’s Law” Drama

UPDATE: Release from House Democrats, Rep. Mike Foote's "Jessica's Law" passes unanimously:

“As a deputy district attorney, I have prosecuted some of these crimes, and I have seen how devastating they can be for victims and their families,” Rep. Foote said. “I want to help them heal by knowing that Colorado has no tolerance for those who prey on our children. And I want DAs and law enforcement to have every available tool to maximize the safety of our kids and to put the worst of the worst behind bars for a very long time.”

…Members of the criminal justice and law enforcement communities, as well as victims’ rights advocates, testified in support of the bill.

“House Bill 1260 brings Jessica’s Law to Colorado in a way that makes sense for Colorado,” Rep. Foote told the committee. “We’re not going to cut and paste any provision of any other state’s criminal law without making allowances for our structure and the way things work in Colorado.” [Pols emphasis]

—–

Rep. Mike Foote (D).

Rep. Mike Foote (D).

​CBS4's Shaun Boyd reported Friday about legislation, two pieces of legislation actually, up for debate in the Colorado House today. Both call themselves "Jessica's Law," named after a Florida child who was murdered by a convicted sex offender out of prison on parole:

The intent of both bills is the same — to make sure anyone who sexually assaults a child spends a long time behind bars.

Both bills are named after Jessica Lunsford, a young girl from Florida who was raped and murdered by a sex offender on parole…

“For these types of offenders a longer sentence is something that’s necessary,” said Rep. Mike Foote, D-Boulder.

Foote is among those who voted against the Szabo bill, calling it “one size fits all.” But he also promised Mark Lunsford he would try to do something. He’s now introduced his own “Jessica’s Law.” His bill would put child molesters away for 10 to 24 years depending on the seriousness of the crime.

“My bill treats different types of actions differently, but also makes sure to target those who are committing the worst of the worst offenses,” Foote said.

Boyd's report, while a fair look at this year's bills, leaves out a number of important details from the debate last year over the GOP version of "Jessica's Law"–details that few under the Dome can forget. The fact is, law enforcement representatives including Colorado District Attorneys' Council, and victim's advocates like the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault opposed last year's version the bill. The reason is simple: Colorado already has very tough sentencing laws for sex offenders. What GOP Rep. Libby Szabo proposed last year was more about stripping away judicial sentencing discretion in an undifferentiated way. Rep. Mike Foote's bill, though we haven't heard if it's considered any more necessary by the DAs and victims than Szabo's, at least tries to look objectively at the types of crimes committed.

This is also the debate in which Rep. Szabo appeared on the FOX News O'Reilly Factor, and made the scurrilous allegation that Speaker Mark Ferrandino was "obviously protecting someone" after the bill died in a House committee. Especially given the opinion among law enforcement and victims advocates that the law isn't necessary in Colorado, we hope that Rep. Foote's generous attempt to accommodate proponents means this is the last we'll ever have to hear about "Jessica's Law."

Rep Wright Leaves Gun Unattended at Capitol

(The stupid! It burns! – promoted by Colorado Pols)

THURSDAY POLS UPDATE: Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense​ released the following statement today:

"As a concealed-carry permit holder, Rep. Wright should understand the risks of leaving a loaded gun unattended. On any given day there are classes of school-aged children touring the Capitol. And we all know the horror stories of what happens when children find loaded guns. It is inexcusable,” said State Leader, Jennifer Hope.
 
She continued, "Rep. Wright claims he carries his weapon because it is his ‘duty to be a first responder.' To that we ask, how can someone respond to an emergency situation when they can't even locate their weapon? The sad irony here is that Rep. Wright sponsored legislation to expand concealed carry rights to gun owners without permits.  We shudder to think of this reality as we see the example of ‘responsible gun ownership’ that Rep Wright has displayed."

—–

Rep. Jared Wright (R-Fruita).

Rep. Jared Wright (R-Fruita).

Let's hear a big hurrah for the Jared Wright as he absolutely obliterates any chance that Republican's will be able to use gun laws to hurt Dems in the 2014 elections in Colorado. 

In a move so ironic it hurts, State Representative Jared Wright left a loaded gun behind after a committee hearing on… wait for it… concealed carry permits. 

As if Jared Wright didn't have enough problems within and beyond his own party, he is now single-handedly responsible for enshrining the Democratic Party's majority for 2015, and will now be the poster boy for the (not so) responsible gun owners. 

The Republic/AP reports:

DENVER — A state lawmaker says he'll no longer carry a firearm in the Capitol after he inadvertently left a loaded handgun in a committee room…

State law prohibits guns in the Capitol "without legal authority." Wright, who was on the Fruita police force in 2007-2011, says that as a peace officer he has a right to be armed in the Capitol.

Wright says after speaking with the State Patrol and Gov. John Hickenlooper's office, he won't carry a gun in the Capitol anymore.

This follows a Durango Herald piece from last year when Rep. Chris Holbert told a witness testifying about gun bills: "Do you understand that there are several guns in this room?"

(more…)

So What You’re Saying Is, Magpul Played Us Like a Fiddle

Colorado-based gun accessory maker Magpul.

Colorado-based gun accessory maker Magpul.

A typically slanted write-up from the conservative "news" site Colorado Observer responds to criticism of Erie-based gun accessory maker Magpul, who is moving their manufacturing operations to Wyoming and Texas with millions of dollars in taxpayer economic development subsidies:

Magpul has come under fire from the left since announcing Jan. 2 that the company intends to move its manufacturing facility to Cheyenne and its corporate office to Texas, making good on last year’s promise to leave Colorado as a result of Democratic gun-control bills signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper.

A Feb. 10 article on the liberal website ColoradoPols carried the headline: “Reminder: Magpul Played Everybody Like a Fiddle,” while the progressive Colorado Independent ran a Feb. 6 article with the headline, “Magpul is relocating because it landed long-sought financial deal.”

“Far from a hardship, [this] could be the most profitable ‘crisis’ in Magpul’s history!” said Colorado Pols in a Jan. 3 post.

Republicans described the reports as an effort by the left to discredit Magpul and rewrite the narrative of last year’s gun-control melee, which resulted in the historic recalls of two Democratic state senators and the resignation of a third.

“They [Democrats] passed a bill that drove hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars of revenue out of the state of Colorado,” said state Sen. Greg Brophy (R-Wray). “How do you defend that, other than to demonize the people who left by saying, ‘Good riddance, they should be gone?’” [Pols emphasis]

Unsurprisingly, Valerie Richardson of the Observer omits the key fact central to our previous stories on this: as reported by local news media last year, Magpul specifically sought and was offered economic subsidies by Texas and Wyoming a year before the gun safety bills later used as a pretext to justify Magpul's move were ever introduced. Setting aside that rather glaring discrepancy, here's what Magpul's spokesman says about those subsidies:

Anderson countered in an email exchange with the Observer “the Wyoming incentives are not ‘subsidies.’”

“[T]hey are loans from Wyoming to the local economic development office Cheyenne LEADS,” said Anderson. “Cheyenne LEADS will use those state funds to build a 100,000+ sq. ft. facility.”

He added that, “LEADS is leasing the facility to Magpul and will repay those state funds.  Magpul has an option after year five of the lease to purchase (the) facility for the full construction cost.”

According to all reports we've read out of Cheyenne, this just isn't accurate–a significant component of the package offered to Magpul consists of grants, not loans. And if you read the weasely language carefully above, he doesn't actually say Magpul is obliged to repay the "full construction cost"–that's just an "option!" According to the Wyoming Eagle Tribune, Magpul is only contractually on the hook for $6 million as part of a "revenue recapture plan."

Bottom line: The superficial story of Magpul's impending departure from Colorado is one that can be gainfully spun by Republicans, as it services lots of other Republican lines of attack. But the truth of this story is very different. When people learn that Magpul was shopping for economic subsidies from the same states, Wyoming and Texas, that it has now announced their move to, a full year before the gun safety bills Magpul claims were the justification for doing so were introduced–even before the mass shooting incidents in Aurora and Connecticut that motivated these bills to begin with–their reaction inevitably changes.

Of course it changes. Because they realize we were all being played like a fiddle.

Buck Looks To Bury “Buyer’s Remorse” Catastrophe

UPDATE: The conservative Daily Caller helps roll out the new female-friendly Ken Buck:

Buck promises this video is merely be the first in a series of maybe ten, or so, he will release. And although they’re too long to air on TV in their current format, “at some point in time,” he avers, “parts of these interviews will be pulled out and ads will be created to set the record straight.”

For a candidate hoping to neutralize a predictable attack, having these testimonials filmed and in the can should go a long way. “I anticipate that once again the Democrats will create the ‘war on women’ narrative,” he said, “and these women talk about who I [really] am.”

—–

2010 GOP Senate nominee Ken Buck.

2010 GOP Senate nominee Ken Buck.

T.M. Fasano writes for the Greeley Tribune today in a story shameless puff piece notably outside their usual paywall:

[Ken] Buck, the Weld district attorney and GOP frontrunner to run against Colorado Sen. Mark Udall in the U.S. Senate race, unveiled a two-minute video titled “Ken Cares: Stephanie’s Story.” Several other videos will be released over the next several weeks and months also showing Buck’s support from women…

When Buck ran for the U.S. Senate seat against Michael Bennet, and barely lost, in 2010, he was portrayed as anti-woman, something that annoys Buck to this day. [Pols emphasis]

“It’s terrible. It’s an absolute lie. I have a daughter. I have a wife,” Buck said. “I understand that politics is unfair, but at some point there has to be some basis in truth and the fact is that I have spent 25 years of my life trying to help the most vulnerable in our community. For someone to suggest that because I’m pro-life that I don’t care about the vulnerable is not logical.”

He added, “What the Democrats have done to me and to Romney and to dozens of others is to say that because we are pro-life we don’t care about women. Nothing can be further from the truth. We have a position on one issue. Look at the whole group of issues before making a decision. What the liberals have done is they have taken one issue and have tried to create a character trait based on that issue and it just isn’t true.”

Of course, there's an obvious bottom line underlying any effort to rehabilitate the image of Weld County DA Ken Buck with women voters:

Buck’s numbers in the latest Quinnipiac University poll has him trailing Udall by only 3 percentage points (45 to 42), but among women voters he’s trailing Udall by 21 percentage points (54 to 33). [Pols emphasis]

“I’ve never met someone who is as dedicated as Ken, so it’s very surprising to me to see the polls showing such little support for him over women’s issues,” [domestic violence survivor Stephanie] Drobny said.

During Ken Buck's failed 2010 campaign for the U.S. Senate, a race he unexpectedly lost principally due to a crushing lack of support from women voters, there were many incidents that hurt him–like during the primary campaign against Jane Norton, when he suggested Republicans vote for him because he does "not wear high heels." Buck also aggressively campaigned on a "no exceptions" platform of opposition to abortion, proudly volunteering that he opposes abortion even in cases of rape or incest.

But the worst came for Buck when a story broke in early October of 2010 about a case of alleged sexual assault he had refused to prosecute, claiming the alleged victim had a case of "buyer's remorse"–this despite the fact that the alleged perpetrator was caught on tape admitting to the crime. The victim in turn had a recording of Buck's callous treatment of her during the investigation, which she released. Combined with a disastrous appearance on Meet the Press and already well-established anti-woman narratives about Buck from the primary campaign (see above), this event helped turn Buck's momentum toward likely victory at the end of September into a narrow loss to Sen. Michael Bennet by Election Day.

Recognizing what happened, Buck is smart to work overtime to repair the damage with women voters in 2010–the persistence of which appears to be his biggest impediment as the GOP's frontrunner for the nomination to challenge incumbent Sen. Mark Udall in 2014. The fact that women voters remember Buck well enough to favor Udall by twenty-one points means that Democrats did a very good job in 2010.

Still, Buck gets credit for recognizing this as his biggest challenge. Much like the hard-right Rep. Mike Coffman pulling a 180 on immigration, though, can Ken "Buyer's Remorse" Buck really make nice with the ladies? It's a tall order to say the least.

Don’t Miss Greg Brophy’s “Gun Club Giveaway!”

gunclub_giveaway

We might have predicted it, but here are the details from Sen. Greg Brophy's gubernatorial campaign site:

To help spur safe gun ownership, my campaign has decided to giveaway a Smith & Wesson M&P15.
I took the time to make a few modifications myself, including: 

MVG vertical grip
MOE+ grip – AR15/M16
MBUS folding rear backup sight
MOE handguard  carbine length – AR15/M16
MS3 multi mission sling Gen 1
ASAP ambidextrous sling attachment point
STR carbine stock mil spec 
2X MOE polymer rail section 11 slots

I tricked this baby out with all the MagPul stuff you can add!

No donation necessary (though we doubt Sen. Brophy would mind), just click here to fill out a simple entry form. Best of all, this AR-15 rifle is "tricked out"–with the latest Magpul accessories, and apparently, Sen. Brophy's fingerprints! That could come in particularly handy depending on who wins this rifle, since Brophy has sworn to not obey the gun safety laws passed last year. We assume that means it will actually come equipped with the Magpul high capacity magazine pictured, and that no background check will be required for this private transfer to who might be a total stranger. Just the way the Founding Fathers intended!

And before those of you who find this an affront get on your high horses, be assured that the ever-snarky Sen. Brophy has already thought of what to say to you. We'll update when we hear what it is.

Holy Hypocrisy, Randy Baumgardner!

randypolicereport

Randy Baumgardner.

Randy Baumgardner.

As the Colorado Independent's John Tomasic reports:

It was a 30-year-old High Standard nine-shot nickel-plated revolver with imitation pearl handles and it was lying on a shelf in the front hallway closet at state Senator Randy Baumgardner’s house in Hot Sulfur Springs. And then it was gone.

In the report he made to the Grand County Sheriff’s office, Baumgardner said he suspected no burglar came and took the gun. It was more likely someone who knew it was just sitting there in the closet, like maybe his stepson, 24-year-old Michael Gramm, who had recently taken a job in Texas. [Pols emphasis] Baumgardner didn’t want to make trouble for his stepson. He just wanted to make sure the fact the gun was missing was recorded and that, if it ever turned up, he might get it back.

The police report is dated 2012.

How is this relevant today, you ask? Well…

Baumgardner today will be testifying in favor of a bill he has introduced to expand exceptions to a law passed last year that requires background checks for non-purchase gun transfers. The law now says that immediate family members don’t have to get background checks to trade firearms. Baumgardner wants the law to include step-relatives as part of the family members exempted from background checks.

Now folks, we're not making a judgment about this particular bill, which some readers might reasonably support. But it's tough to imagine a worse story to come out about the sponsor of a bill to ease restrictions on gun transfers to step-relatives than his own weird police contact over the possibility his own stepson had stolen his gun. After all, isn't the whole premise of Sen. Randy Baumgardner's Senate Bill 14-090 that you can trust your step-relatives?

Baumgardner's bill was likely to die anyway, but this ought to give it a rousing send-off.

Kopel urged Large Capacity Mag Manufacturers to Improve their Quality

(This is really going to become an actual argument, isn't it? Bigger magazines are safer because they don't work as well! — Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Dave Kopel.

Dave Kopel.

That's how I read this, anyway

Dick DURBIN (D-IL): What I’m trying to get to is this, if you can rationalize a 100-round drum that someone can strap onto an automatic — semi-automatic weapon, as did in Aurora, Colorado, and turn it loose, killing dozens of people there, and saving lives only because it jammed, then you certainly ought to object to the laws that have been on the books for 80 years about machine guns. Why aren’t they allowed under the Second Amendment?

Dave KOPEL (Independence Institute): Because, as the — because, according to Heller, because they are not commonly used by law-abiding citizens for legitimate purposes,

DURBIN: But 100-round magazines are? 

KOPEL: You’re the one who wants to talk about 100-round magazines.

(Nice school yard debate tool there, Dave. -ed.)

DURBIN: I sure do.

KOPEL: And thank goodness — thank goodness he had a piece of junk like that that jammed, instead of something better made, where he could have killed more people with it.

DURBIN: Well, we — that’s what it’s all about, then?

KOPEL: It’s about saving…

DURBIN: We’re playing God here?

KOPEL: It’s about saving lives — it’s about saving lives with ordinary magazines. Hundred magazines are novelties that are not used by police officers or hunters or most other people.

Colorado's pro-death gun advocates should figure out if they want more people to die from 15-round clips or better made 100-round clips as Kopel suggested in his U.S. Senate testimony.

More Coloradans will certainly die from gun violence in the future. And there will be high capacity gun clips at the scene of the crime….you can rest assured of that.

Stopping short of apologizing for mag comment, Herpin thanks Boyles for being “fair and balanced,” and Boyles calls Stokols a “Butt Boy”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

FRIDAY POLS UPDATE: Something more like an apology now from Sen. Bernie Herpin, as reported by the Colorado Springs Gazette's Megan Schrader today:

Sen. Bernie Herpin, a Republican, said he was trying to make a point about how last year's Democrat-sponsored gun laws have been ineffective in reducing gun violence.

"There's nothing I can say to relieve their pain; I certainly didn't intend to add to their pain," Herpin said.

But talk of his comments has spread rapidly and so has the criticism. [Pols emphasis]

—–

Sen. Bernie Herpin (R).

Sen. Bernie Herpin (R).

Minutes after State Sen. Bernie Herpin thanked KNUS talk-radio host Peter Boyles for being "fair and balanced," Boyles called Fox 31 reporter Eli Stokols a "Butt Boy."

Herpin and Boyles were angry over Fox 31 Denver coverage of Herpin's statement that it was "maybe a good thing" that the Aurora m0vie-theater shooter had a 100-round magazine.

Asked by Boyles' about Stokols' coverage, Herpin said this morning, "As a media person you know it's their job to sensationalize the news to attract readers and viewers and followers on their blogs."

"Fortunately, we have people like you that stand up for us, that provide both sides of the story in a fair-and-balanced way," Herpin told Boyles. "And I thank you for that."

"Well, you're kind," responded Boyles, who really truly expressed his "love" Herpin earlier in the interview.

Listen to Herpin says Boyles is fair and balanced 02-13-14

After I tweeted Boyles' conversation with Herpin, "Missing Pundit" responded with "Live from Kenya," referring to Boyles' birther obsessions.

Herpin stopped short of apologizing for his comment about the 100-round magazine, telling Boyles, "I certainly meant no disrespect to people."

Boyles' substantive criticism of Stokols' reporting was that Stokols didn't include the full context of Herpin's quote until the lower portion of Stokols' post. There, Stokols wrote: "Herpin was trying to say that larger magazines are less reliable, more prone to jamming up." And then he provided Herpin's full comment with video.

That doesn't sound like reporting from a Butt Boy, whatever that means.

“Maybe a Good Thing That He Had a 100-Round Magazine”

THURSDAY UPDATE: Audio of Tom Sullivan's (father of Aurora shooting victim Alex Sullivan) response to Sen. Bernie Herpin's remarks in testimony now available below.

From every indication that I have, the pictures, and the reports that I've received from the DA, it says that 76 bullets came out of that magazine. [Pols emphasis]

—–

Sen. Bernie Herpin (R).

Sen. Bernie Herpin (R).

Today's "just wow" moment in the Colorado Senate is brought to you by freshman Sen. Bernie Herpin (R-Recall), as reported by FOX 31's Eli Stokols this afternoon:

Republican state Sen. Bernie Herpin raised the ire of an Aurora theater shooting victim’s father when he claimed that it might have been “a good thing” that gunman James Holmes had a 100-round magazine when he opened fire and, ultimately, killed 12 people…

“My understanding is that James Holmes bought his 100-round capacity magazine legally,” said Sen. Irene Aguilar, D-Denver. “So in fact, this law would have stopped James Holmes from purchasing a 100-round magazine.

“I was wondering if you agree with me.”

“Perhaps, James Holmes would not have been able to purchase a 100-round magazine,” Herpin responded.

“As it turned out, that was maybe a good thing that he had a 100-round magazine, because it jammed. If he had four, five, six 15-round magazines, there’s no telling how much damage he could have done until a good guy with a gun showed up.”

Just a couple of points to add, since this horrifyingly tortured logic doesn't really merit anything you'd call "analysis." Herpin was trying to make a point, not wholly inaccurate, that some of the cheaper civilian-grade high capacity drum magazines aren't very reliable. The drum magazine used by the Aurora shooter in fact did jam his assault rifle–after numerous fatal shots. But the idea that anyone would count on product defects to protect the public in an actual shooting is, of course, ludicrous beyond words. Also, we are obliged to note that in the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings, the Colorado-made Magpul high capacity magazines did not jam.

Tom Sullivan, father of Aurora shooting victim Alex Sullivan and who was present for today's hearing, said this afterward:

“The lack of empathy and compassion is shocking,” he said. “Not just to me and my family, but to all of the families who have lost loved ones to gun violence and to all the people of Colorado. But this is what he truly believes.

“And to think this is the person who they brought in to replace John Morse.” [Pols emphasis]

Without a doubt, Herpin delivered a huge political gift to Democrats today, betraying an ignorance and aloofness to suffering that frankly voters wouldn't believe if there wasn't recorded proof it had happened. This is a hit not just on Bernie Herpin, but the entire Republican 2014 "comeback" strategy that revolves around keeping the momentum from last year's recalls at full tilt through November. Cracks in that strategy had already appeared as gun rights supporters failed to pack committee hearings for the repeal bills.

And now, folks? Who will justify this madness?

Another Gun Lobby Fail: Armed Teacher Bill Fizzles

Moms Demand Action event at the Capitol yesterday.

Moms Demand Action event at the Capitol yesterday.

AP's Kristen Wyatt reports on action yesterday in the Colorado House Judiciary Committee:

A Democratic House Judiciary Committee voted 7-4 to reject another Republican bill to expand gun rights. The bill would have allowed school districts to decide if they wanted to let teachers, not just designated school resource officers, carry concealed weapons…

Supporters of the idea were far outnumbered by teachers and students who packed the hearing to speak against the idea. [Pols emphasis]

"There's no reason for teachers to have guns in school when we're trying to keep guns out of schools in the first place," said Karina Vargas, who was paralyzed in 2010 from a shooting outside Aurora Central High.

FOX 31's Eli Stokols:

Gun control advocates, who want fewer firearms in schools, not more, again packed the hearing room at the Capitol Tuesday, intent on demonstrating strength — and staunch opposition to the proposal to allow willing teachers and school staffers to serve as a first line of defense in the instance of a school shooting.

“We have officers who are trained in responding to these incidents, and now we’re adding to that people who don’t have that training,” said Michael Eaton, the chief of security for Denver Public Schools…

After all the supporters of the proposal had finished testifying, the committee continued to hear from the bill’s opponents for another two hours as gun control advocates — even knowing the committee’s vote was likely to go their way — pressed their points. [Pols emphasis]

Empty seats at hearing for House Bill 1157 yesterday.

Empty seats at hearing for House Bill 1157 yesterday.

​At this point, quite a number of Republican proposals to repeal the gun safety legislation passed in the 2013 session of the Colorado General Assembly have been heard, but despite calls by the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and other groups for protests and mass testimony, nothing like the pandemonium seen at the Capitol last year has materialized. Despite excuses now being made, this does not appear to have been the intention of the gun lobby, who urged their supporters to turn out in large numbers or risk "emboldening the left." 

It doesn't matter if gun rights supporters now consider their protests "futile" in the face of Democratic control of the legislature–this is an election year, and the failure to hold together the angry momentum they worked so hard to cultivate in 2013 is a major turnaround that will hurt Republicans this November. That failure is already evident in polling that shows public support has actually grown in Colorado for universal background checks and the magazine limit law, even as the gun lobby assailed them 24/7.

As for this particular piece of legislation, allowing teachers to carry concealed weapons, it's been suggested to us that the whole emotional push by Republicans for this bill in the wake of last December's shooting at Arapahoe High School may have been a misguided waste of everyone's time. In 2003, the GOP-controlled Colorado legislature passed the Concealed Carry Act of 2003. This legislation, signed into law by Republican Gov. Bill Owens, appears to allow school districts to designate anyone they wish as a "security officer" (not an official title that requires any training, mind you), and the law specifically allows persons so designated to carry concealed weapons on school grounds.

A permittee who is employed or retained by contract by a school district as a school security officer may carry a concealed handgun onto the real property, or into any improvement erected thereon, of a public elementary, middle, junior high, or high school while the permittee is on duty;

As we understand it, this 2003 law allows school districts to designate "security officers" who can carry concealed weapons. And if they really wanted, there's no reason why that couldn't be teachers. Note that we're not making a judgment about the efficacy of arming teachers, which as you can read above, far more witnesses turned out to testify against than in favor of. What we're saying is, it appears that yesterday's debate over arming teachers, in addition to being emotionally manipulative so soon after the Arapahoe High School shooting, was superfluous.

And that kind of puts the proverbial cherry on top of their failure.

Reminder: Magpul Played Everybody Like a Fiddle

magpulheadline

As reported by the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle's Becky Orr Friday, and apropos today with a bill to repeal Colorado's magazine limit law up for certain death debate in the House State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee:

The Wyoming State Loan and Investment Board approved a $13 million grant Thursday to help a company that makes magazines and other gun accessories move to Cheyenne.

The board voted 4-1 in favor of the grant to help recruit Magpul Industries, a company based in Erie, Colo. SLIB is made up of the top five elected officials in Wyoming…

The company is expected to be in temporary quarters in Cheyenne as early as this summer. The business will remain there while a new building is built.

The state and local investment in the relocation effort will reach about $17 million over 20 years. The return to the public is estimated at about $20 million.

Colorado-based gun accessory maker Magpul.

Colorado-based gun accessory maker Magpul.

Last Thursday, the Colorado Independent's Shelby Kinney-Lang published an in-depth look at Erie-based ammunition magazine maker Magpul's impending move to Cheyenne, and the millions in taxpayer-funded financial incentives they'll receive to do so–and as we've discussed in detail, how that move appears to have been in the offing long before Colorado passed any law limiting gun magazine capacity.

Magpul announced last month that it would be moving its manufacturing to Wyoming and headquarters to Texas, and it is now clear that financial considerations unsurprisingly dominated negotiations around the move.

Yet the expansion plan itself and the company’s financial bargaining never made news in all of the reporting around Magpul last spring during the gun-law debates at the capitol. The main narrative spinning around Magpul at the time was that the company would move as a political statement. As the conservative Colorado Observer put it, Magpul executives “announced they would leave in reaction to the Democratic state legislature’s passage of gun-control bills.”

But Wyoming and Texas offered financial incentives to Magpul in 2012, when the company began exploring how best to realize its expansion plans and long before the gun measures had even been introduced…

Magpul’s January press release announcing its plan to move to Wyoming and Texas seemed to suggest that 92 percent of its Colorado workforce would join the company outside the state. But Magpul’s Duane Liptak told the Denver Post that wasn’t the case, that most of the company’s employees would be left behind in Erie. Liptak did not respond to the Independent’s requests for clarification, though a story about Magpul in the [Casper] Star-Tribune states that “some” unknown number of employees will move with the company and that 184 positions will be available in Wyoming. A more recent AP story says Magpul will bring “90 new jobs” to Cheyenne.

We do expect that executives from Magpul will testify at today's hearing, and that the example of their leaving Colorado–expressed in plaintive terms as "jobs lost"–will be frequently invoked as a reason a central magazine limit law should be repealed. But as we've tried diligently to ensure our readers understand, there's much more to this story–from Colorado employees who may or may not move/commute to Cheyenne, to the millions of dollars Magpul was shopping other states for before Colorado's magazine limit law was ever introduced.

Debate the efficacy of the law all you want, but don't misrepresent what happened here.

This Week: Get Ready For Magazine Ban Mayhem, Maybe

Magpul PMAG and Bushmaster AR-15 rifle used at the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting.

Magpul PMAG and Bushmaster AR-15 rifle used at the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting.

​ AP's Ivan Moreno reports via the Colorado Springs Gazette:

Gun-rights advocates who want to see a repeal of Colorado's limits on the size of ammunition magazines realize their chances are slim when they go before Democrat-controlled committees next week…

Holbert's repeal attempt is scheduled to be heard by a House committee Monday, and a separate but identical proposal in the Senate is expected to have a committee hearing there Wednesday.

The magazine restrictions were among a handful of gun-related laws that Democrats passed in the aftermath of mass shootings in a suburban Denver movie theater and Connecticut's Sandy Hook Elementary School. One of those laws expanded background checks to private and online firearm sales.

A Republican attempt to undo that law has already failed.

Democratic Rep. Rhonda Fields of Aurora, who sponsored the magazine limits and the expansion of background checks, said she believes Colorado residents support the measures, and that they'll come out in big numbers to testify against repeal efforts.

The latest Quinnipiac University poll of Colorado residents, out last week, shows once again that the strongest public support among the different gun safety bills passed by the Colorado General Assembly in 2013 is for requiring background checks for all sales of guns including private sales. While support for universal background checks on guns is at no-brainer upper 80th percentile levels, the question of limits on the capacity of gun magazines is much more divisive. The latest Quinnipiac poll is in fact the first polling we've seen in Colorado showing support for Colorado's new magazine limit law at 50%, with 47% opposed. It's notable that support for this law has grown slightly, perhaps more importantly not declined, even as the gun lobby raged against it all last year.

As we indicated at the time, the committee fight over repealing last year's universal background check law, House Bill 13-1229, was anticlimactic in comparison to last year's huge mobs of opponents who flooded hearings and circled the Capitol laying on their car horns. In the Senate State Affairs Committee's hearing on the Senate background check repeal bill, many more witnesses appeared to testify in favor of background checks than against. If Republicans are going to make an election-year stand anywhere to placate the gun lobby and the issue's vocal "grassroots," the magazine limit is the place. It bears repeating–much of the anger over Democrats' "gun control agenda" last year was the product of either outright misinformation, or so-called "flanking bills" like the assault weapons liability measure that were ultimately killed. In retrospect, the flanking bill strategy was probably a bad idea, as it gave opponents fuel even after those more onerous bills were killed. But that debate is over.

The magazine limit law is, as we've been forced to spend a lot of time on in this space, a major point of public misinformation. We believe that if the media had gotten this story anywhere close to right after the passage of House Bill 13-1224, support for the new law would be considerably higher than polls suggest today. Democrats should use these hearings as an opportunity to demonstrate how basic facts have been misrepresented in the local press and by the gun lobby, every bit as egregiously as Victor Head unwittingly confessed to last week.

Hopefully, we won't learn that "removable baseplates" got him lots of signatures.