Colorado Lawmakers Stand With President Obama As New Gun Safety Measures Announced

gironmorsefieldsCNN reports from the White House today:

President Barack Obama grew emotional Tuesday as he made a passionate call for a national “sense of urgency” to limit gun violence.

He was introduced by Mark Barden, whose son Daniel was killed in the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Obama circled back to that shooting in the final moments of his speech.

“Every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad,” Obama said, pausing to wipe away tears.

He added: “And by the way, it happens on the streets of Chicago every day,” referring to his hometown where he began his political career.

The White House is introducing a new requirement that would expand background checks for buyers. The measure mandates that individuals “in the business of selling firearms” register as licensed gun dealers, effectively narrowing the so-called “gun show loophole,” which exempts most small sellers from keeping formal sales records.

Among those in attendance today was Rep. Rhonda Fields of Aurora, whose son’s violent death a decade ago helped propel her into public office and make her a leading advocate for gun safety legislation. As the Denver Post reports:

In 2013, Democrats passed a law that required Coloradans to undergo a background check when they sold and transferred a firearm, whether the gun was a purchase from a store or a swap between close friends. Colorado closed the gun-show loophole by requiring checks for purchases at gun shows after Columbine.

“The nation has to catch up with Colorado,” Fields said. [Pols emphasis]

And it wasn’t just Rep. Fields representing Colorado at the White House today. Two Democratic state senators who lost seats in the 2013 recall elections initiated by the gun lobby in retaliation for the passing of that year’s gun safety bills, former Sens. John Morse and Angela Giron, were also on hand for Obama’s announcement.

Because Colorado already has in place most of what Obama announced today, there’s nothing new for local gun rights supporters to complain about–which won’t stop them, of course. But it should also be noted that the specific policy Obama is strengthening, so far as he can without legislative support, is overwhelmingly supported by voters even as they express disdain for the concept of “gun control.” Background checks to screen out persons who are already prohibited from owning guns is a no-brainer in the eyes of an overwhelming percentage of respondents to every poll that asks the question.

Going on three years later, there is still debate among Colorado Democrats as to whether the 2013 gun safety bills were worth the political damage. Both seats lost in the recalls were retaken by Democrats in 2014, and another state senate seat that was narrowly lost to the GOP as an indirect result of the 2013 gun debate is ripe to be picked back up this year. The personal sacrifices of Sens. Morse, Giron, and Evie Hudak notwithstanding, the predictions of political catastrophe for Democrats after taking on the gun issue have not come true in Colorado.

And today, the President of the United States powerfully backed them up. Is it the end of the debate? Of course not. Starting next week, Colorado Republicans are going to take their perennial shot at repealing everything that was passed in 2013, invoking the names Morse, Giron, and Hudak the whole way. But the longsuffering public servants in the photo you see above should be proud. The laws they gave everything to pass are still on the books. Colorado’s success in passing common-sense gun safety laws stands as a hard-won model that may yet be emulated in other states.

It was not for nothing.

So You Want To “Enforce Existing Laws,” Do You?

Boulder County DA Stan Garnett.

Boulder County DA Stan Garnett.

One of the principal arguments made by opponents of gun safety legislation like the universal background checks law passed by the Democratic-controlled Colorado General Assembly in 2013 is that additional laws to regulate access to guns are unnecessary–and that if the government would simply focus on the enforcement of “existing laws,” we could reduce gun violence without placing onerous burdens on “law-abiding citizens.”

Well, as the Boulder Daily Camera’s Mitchell Byars reports, Boulder County DA Stan Garnett is doing just that–but surprisingly (or not), the gun lobby doesn’t seem to be very happy about it.

Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett is hoping to cut down on gun violence by putting more emphasis on prosecuting laws that prohibit people from applying for guns when they know they aren’t supposed to have them.

The Colorado Legislature passed a series of gun laws in 2013, including one that now requires universal backgound checks for potential gun buyers. But another part of that law makes it a crime to even apply for a background check for people who know they are not qualified to own a gun, and Garnett said that part of the law needs to be a point of emphasis…

Violating that statute is a Class 1 misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Garnett said he has already about six cases of people unlawfully trying to buy firearms in Boulder County, but he said its a law that many other districts — especially those who were against the gun restrictions in 2013 — are not very strict about enforcing. [Pols emphasis]

It’s been the case ever since background checks for most gun purchases became nationwide law that many thousands of people fail the checks and are denied gun purchases every year. Unfortunately, enforcement of that provision beyond denial of the gun purchase itself is far from consistent. Gun rights supporters routinely complain that no one is prosecuting the significant numbers of prohibited persons who attempt to buy guns, so part of the 2013 background check law prescribed specific penalties for those who attempt to buy a gun when knowingly ineligible.

In short, DA Garnett is doing exactly what the gun lobby says we should be doing–enforcing existing law. It’s been illegal for many years to attempt to buy a gun with prohibiting factors on your record, to include any kind of active arrest warrant. Obviously, a police officer in the position of having to arrest a wanted suspect doesn’t want said suspect to be able to buy a gun, even if the warrant is for a speeding ticket.

You’d think this would make the gun lobby happy! But you’d be wrong:

Boulder DA Stan Garnett says he will crack down on Colorado’s gun laws already on the books and send people to jail who have unpaid traffic tickets and try to buy a gun…

So, it looks like if you run a red light, get a speeding ticket, or double-park in Boulder, then you’re going to jail for trying to buy a gun.

Yes, that’s exactly right. If you have an arrest warrant and you try to buy a gun in Boulder County, Boulder County DA Stan Garnett says he’s going to prosecute you. Because that’s what the law says he needs to do. And that’s what the NRA says he needs to do–“enforce the laws already on the books.” Clearly, not every case will result in a conviction, but the simple act of enforcement of this law has no downside. Everybody ought to be happy to see it.

And that makes the complaints from gun rights usual suspects look very strange indeed.

Yes, Republicans Are Standing Behind JoAnn Windholz

GOP Rep. JoAnn Windholz (center).

GOP Rep. JoAnn Windholz (center).

The Colorado Independent’s Marianne Goodland updates the ongoing controversy over freshman GOP Rep. JoAnn Windholz’s remarks in the wake of the Planned Parenthood domestic terror attack in Colorado Springs. Readers will recall Windholz very pointedly asserted that Planned Parenthood is the “real culprit” behind the shootings, a statement she later removed from social media but has to this date not apologized for or even publicly commented on.

Windholz’s comments spread nationally with the story of the Planned Parenthood attack, and the backlash has been fairly intense. Windholz won her HD-30 seat by the narrowest of margins in 2014, an election much more favorable to Republicans than 2016 is expected to be. While some Democrats have pushed for a speedy recall of Windholz, more strategic-minded Democrats believe it would be better to face this weakened opponent in the general election.

The unknown variable in this is how Windholz’s fellow Republicans would decide to proceed–by forcing her resignation, or doubling down in support of their incumbent in order to hold a seat they have to hold to retain any hope of flipping the House next year. And that’s where Goodland picks up the story:

Rep. JoAnn Windholz still has her party’s support in the 2016 race after she blamed Planned Parenthood for inciting the Nov. 27 rampage at a Colorado Springs clinic, referring to the health organization as the “real culprit” in the murder of three.

Adams County GOP leaders Warren Main and Gary Mikes lauded her record as a lawmaker. She is very religious and has “high morals,” Main told The Colorado Independent.

And there you have it, folks. Obviously there are higher-level Republicans who might have other ideas we haven’t heard yet, but support from Windholz’s local Adams County Republicans is without a doubt crucial to her thinking going into 2016.

To paraphrase the Sound of Music, how do Republicans solve a problem like JoAnn Windholz? Should they have pushed her to quickly resign, which would have outraged the pro-life Republican base but given them someone else to hold this seat? Are they right to calculate on Windholz being able to “live this down” Cory Gardner-style as these comments from Adams County Republicans suggest? Or is it all just re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic, ahead of a 2016 election in a lost-cause district that Republicans should just write off?

The one thing we’re pretty sure of is that none of this is good for them.

Court outburst validates concerns about extreme anti-choice rhetoric, activists say

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Alleged domestic terrorist Robert Dear. Photo via CSPD

Alleged domestic terrorist Robert Dear. Photo via CSPD

For an RH Reality Check post today, I collected the responses of pro-choice activists to last week’s court appearance by the accused Planned Parenthood domestic terrorist, during which he shouted, “I’m a warrior for the babies.”

Were his outbursts further proof that extreme anti-choice rhetoric contributed to the November 27 murders in Colorado Springs?

“I think Dear’s comments remove any doubt as to what his motive was,” Amy Runyon-Harms, director of ProgressNow Colorado, said in an email to RH Reality Check. “Elected officials who use over-the-top rhetoric in an effort to appease their base need to think twice before doing so and recognize the impact their words have on others.”

Karen Middleton, director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, agreed.

“The attacks have gotten worse, and the fact that the gunman repeated the same rhetoric about ‘baby parts’ we’ve heard from abortion opponents is not a coincidence,” Middleton toldRH Reality Check. “Words have meaning, and people inclined to violence can act on that meaning in awful ways. The result here is that an Iraq war veteran, a mother of two, and a police officer lost their lives, and six children lost their parent….”

“We know that words matter,” Vicki Cowart, director of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, said in the statement. “It is time to put an end to the dangerous rhetoric that has permeated our political conversations. Enough is enough—this violence, whether inflicted with words or with weapons, cannot become our normal.”

You recall that at a December 1 news conference on the west steps of the capitol, activists named three anti-choice politicians, Rep. Mike Coffman, State Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt, and State Sen. Tim Neville, as using rhetoric that contributed to the shooting in Colorado Springs.

Dr. Chaps Says Planned Parenthood Execs Have “Same Demonic Spirit of Murder” As Terrorist

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Carly Fiorina (right), with Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt.

Carly Fiorina (right), with Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt.

UPDATE: In response to my question of whether he thinks there’s any difference between the Planned Parenthood domestic terrorist and Planned Parenthood executives, Klingenschmitt said via email, “I’ve been consistent in my statements calling for an end to ALL of the violence, not just half of the violence as the pro-abortionists do.  They remain inconsistent in their calls to end some violence, while they engage in violent behavior against children behind closed doors.”

—–

“Listen, the shooter was filled with the demonic spirit of murder,” said State Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt, a Republican, told Colorado Springs radio station KLZ 560-AM four days after the shooting (at 6:20 below). “And yet, the Planned Parenthood executives who call for not just the murder but the profiting from selling aborted baby parts, as we’ve seen from their own lips on the videos of the Center for Medical Progress over the summer, they have that same demonic spirit of murder.”

“Absolutely. Abolutely,” responded KLZ host Steve Curtis, who’s a former chair of the Colorado Republican Party.

Klingenschmitt did not immediately return an email seeking to know if he sees any difference between Planned Parenthood executives and the domestic terrorist.

Other anti-choice leaders have responded to the tragedy by objecting to the abortions at Planned Parenthood as well as the murders committed by the terrorist, but Klingenschmitt went further Dec. 1 by equating Planned Parenthood officials to the terrorist.

Klingenschmitt was one of three Republicans, along with Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) and U.S. Senate candidate Tim Neville, whom pro-choice activists accused last week of inciting clinic violence through their use of “extreme” rhetoric.

“Never have I called for violence. In fact, we abhor the actions of the violent shooter,” Klingenschmitt also said during the radio interview (at 4:25 below).

(more…)

Planned Parenthood Terrorist: “I’m a Warrior For The Babies”

Alleged domestic terrorist Robert Dear. Photo via CSPD

Alleged domestic terrorist Robert Dear. Photo via CSPD

A dramatic day in court for domestic terrorist Robert Lewis Dear, who leapt to his feet during his arraignment hearing today to confirm his motives for his murderous assault on the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs late last month. AP reports:

In court Wednesday, Robert Dear said the state public defender’s office wants to seal documents and limit discussion of his case to hide what he saw inside the clinic.

Dear shouted, “You’ll never know what I saw in that clinic. Atrocities. The babies. That’s what they want to seal.”

Dear noted that his attorney also represented Colorado theater shooter James Holmes. He says attorney Daniel King “drugged” Holmes, and “he wants to do that to me.”

…The man accused of killing three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic says he’s guilty and that he’s a “warrior for the babies.” [Pols emphasis]

In the immediate aftermath of the attack on Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs on November 27th, abortion opponents flailed wildly trying to distance themselves and their summerlong campaign of lies about the organization from the shooter’s actions. Conservative media, followed by local social media voices and Republican elected officials all the way up to Ted Cruz, clung to any unsourced rumor about the shooter’s motives: that he was a “transgender leftist,” that he was a bank robber “gone wild,” and various other deflections. Even after news reports surfaced that Robert Dear had used the words “no more baby parts” when explaining his actions to police, investigators in ultra-conservative Colorado Springs were unusually slow to “speculate” about Dear’s motive.

After today’s outburst in court, we’d say it’s time to stop speculating.

Tancredo: Food Stamps? Let’s Try Gun Stamps!

Tom Tancredo.

Tom Tancredo.

We’ve seen a fair number of strange reactions from Republicans and other conservatives to last week’s terror attack in San Bernardino, California–with the story combining the two disparate narratives of international terrorism and gun control in ways that conservatives can’t easily square up.

Unless you’re Tom Tancredo! In which case it’s easy-peasy to chart a way forward. A lunatic way, we admit, but…

In San Bernardino, the police arrived in 4 minutes of the first shots, and still 14 people were slaughtered. Next time it could be 140 or 400.

In San Bernardino, the assassins were two “self-radicalized” Islamist jihadists, one of them an American-born Muslim of Pakistani immigrant parents. The mastermind of the Paris attack of last month was not a refugee, he was a French citizen born to Moroccan immigrants. The female half of that pair of assassins had been “vetted” by two federal agencies and awarded a visa.

It’s time to wake up and smell the ashes of self-delusion.

In response to radical Islam’s declaration of war on America, Barack Obama plays golf and Hillary Clinton wants to have a “national conversation” about gun confiscation. Let’s hope she continues with such vapid stupidities, as it will be a fitting final chapter to her political biography.

If President Obama or any president ever attempts gun confiscation in America, there should be and will be a second civil war. An America disarmed is an America in subjugation.

Okie dokie! So what’s the solution, we’re afraid to ask?

To show we are serious about empowering 100 million citizens for self-defense, we should seriously consider subsidizing the purchase of firearms by low-income citizens. Terrorists and criminals already know how to obtain guns, so why not help the defenseless? If we can afford food stamps and housing subsidies, why not gun stamps to help urban citizens survive the next Islamist assault? [Pols emphasis]

Not The Onion. We swear.

Not The Onion. We swear.

That’s right, folks–former Republican Congressman Tom Tancredo, who ran for President in 2008 and received widespread support from Colorado Republicans for his gubernatorial campaigns in 2010 and 2014, thinks we would subsidize the purchase of guns for low-income Americans. Like food stamps–except for guns!

Really, what could go wrong?

Now obviously, we distribute food stamps to needy Americans to keep them alive. You could imagine “gun stamps” being distributed for a nominally similar purpose, as long as you can overlook the fact that guns also help people die in addition to sometimes helping them live. As opposed to food, which generally only helps with the living part.

Then again, if you buy the poor guns and some of them die, you’d give out fewer food stamps.

So really, what could go wrong?

Bottom line: there are moments when you’d swear you were tricked into reading The Onion or some other satirical fake news site. In those moments, make sure it’s not Breitbart.com, and make sure the author isn’t Tom Tancredo.

Editorial Department: Words are Just a Bunch of Letters and Sounds

Colorado Pols Editorial DepartmentWelcome back to the “Editorial Department” here at Colorado Pols, where we discuss certain opinion pieces, blog entries, and other assorted Op-Ed commentary.

Today, we bring you a draft editorial that may or may not have been forwarded to us from the office of Senator Cory Gardner. This is a timely piece that addresses the use of extreme rhetoric in Republican politics.

Click after the jump to read the full, unedited commentary that we have attributed to Gardner. Enjoy…

(more…)

The Sad Truth About Gun Violence in America

Outside of the United States, you are more likely to be killed by a falling object than by gun violence.

Outside of the United States, you are more likely to be killed by a falling object than being a victim of gun violence.

No country does gun violence quite like the United States.

As the New York Times reports — with some amazingly-specific statistics — people outside of the United States are more likely to be killed by a falling object than a gun:

In Germany, for example, about two out of every million people are fatally shot by another person each year — making such events as uncommon there as the campers’ deaths in Yosemite. Gun homicides are just as rare in several other European countries, including the Netherlands and Austria. In the United States, two per million is roughly the death rate for hypothermia or plane crashes.

In Poland and England, only about one out of every million people die in gun homicides each year — about as often as an American dies in an agricultural accident or falling from a ladder. In Japan, where gun homicides are even rarer, the likelihood of dying this way is about the same as an American’s chance of being killed by lightning — roughly one in 10 million.

In the United States, the death rate from gun homicides is about 31 per million people, which is similar to the rate at which Americans die in car accidents (not including van, truck, bus or motorcycle accidents). The homicides include losses from mass shootings, like those Wednesday in San Bernardino, Calif., and the week before in Colorado Springs. And of course, they also include the country’s vastly more common single-victim killings.

These comparisons help highlight how exceptional the United States is. Here, where the right to bear arms is cherished by much of the population, gun homicides are a significant public health concern. [Pols emphasis]

Check out the full graphic available at the New York Times to see just how insanely rare it would be to die from gun violence in another country.

Remember this the next time you hear someone say that America would be safer if more people carried guns around with them.

Time To Ban Autoloading Firearms In America

(Greg Brophy’s head just metaphorically exploded – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Semiautomatic guns for sale.

Semiautomatic guns for sale.

I’m going to seriously piss off the ammosexuals today.

Gunnies keep asking me what law would prevent San Bernardino, or would have prevented the Planned Parenthood attack. It’s like a dare. Well okay. I’ve given some thought to what law might really make a difference to stop mass shootings like Columbine, Aurora, San Bernardino, Planned Parenthood. What can we really do?

I respect the rights of American civilians to own guns for hunting and defense. Period. The Supreme Court has upheld those gun rights. The Heller decision says guns in “common use” are legal. So let’s change what’s in “common use.”

Today I am calling for a ban on the sale of autoloading firearms in the United States. I want a ban on autoloading guns, and an orderly phase-out of their legal possession. I would allow a rimfire exception, and I would allow double-action revolvers. That’s it. Keep your bolt actions, lever actions, pump actions, and break actions.

Killing machines off the streets.

Mass shootings even as crime rates have fallen in recent years mean it’s time for change. The simple fact is that automatic weapons put too much killing power into one hand. In real defense situations, shot placement is what matters, not spraying bullets.

America doesn’t need high-cap nines. We don’t need 5.56mm tumbling rounds to stay safe.

As a gun owner and proud American, I am calling for this to protect my rights and my safety. The “good guy with the gun” can’t stop these horrific mass shootings. We have to do something to reduce the harm potential from modern military weapons used against civilians.

Do you support a ban on autoloading firearms in the United States? Because I am ready to.

With or Without You: Windholz Faceplant Stymies Colorado GOP

UPDATE: Democratic CD-6 candidate Morgan Carroll slams JoAnn Windholz and pressures Rep. Mike Coffman to, you know, say something:

State Senator Morgan Carroll released the following statement condemning Rep. JoAnn Windholz’s statement and calling on Congressman Coffman to walk his talk and do the same.

“It’s deeply disturbing and dangerous for Rep. JoAnn Windholz to blame Planned Parenthood and the victims of this attack for this atrocity,” said State Senator Morgan Carroll. “She needs to retract her statement with a sincere apology to the victims of this violence or else step down.”

“As an elected leader in this community, if Congressman Coffman meant what he said in his statement, he should join me in condemning the statement of Rep. Windholz and ask for her to retract it with an apology or step down.”

Moral: when you’ve become the stick Democrats use to beat up your fellow Republicans with, you’ve screwed the proverbial pooch.

—–

GOP Rep. JoAnn Windholz (center).

GOP Rep. JoAnn Windholz (center).

As the Aurora Sentinel reports today, GOP freshman Rep. JoAnn Windholz’s unfiltered moment this week, in which she explicitly blamed Planned Parenthood for the actions of a domestic terrorist who attacked the organization’s clinic in Colorado Springs is causing major headaches for local Republican strategists. Windholz’s extremely narrow margin of victory in 2014 makes her highly vulnerable to begin with in the upcoming presidential election year, and with this messaging disaster piled on…well, it doesn’t look real good for her.

And that’s assuming she lasts that long:

Critics have begun an effort to recall Adams County state Rep. JoAnn Windholz following comments she made this week about Planned Parenthood being responsible for a deadly shooting at one of their clinics in Colorado Springs.

Two people both critical of Windholz’ comments became acquainted on social media this week and decided to begin the recall effort, using Facebook themselves to make the recall happen. Leading the process is Steve Cohn of Longmont, and Naomi Bigwood of Adams County, who lives in House District 3o, represented by Windholz…

“…Windholz has NO BUSINESS governing Colorado in any capacity,” Cohn and Bigwood said on a Facebook site dedicated to her recall . “Irresponsible rhetoric like hers is what caused the shooting.”

For its part, the Colorado Republican Party has issued a statement distancing itself from Windholz’s remarks, but according to the Sentinel has no plans to ask Windholz to resign her highly competitive seat:

Steve House, Colorado’s GOP chairman, said the comments Windholz made do not reflect the view of the Colorado Republican Party. He said the party will not ask Windholz to resign because of the comments.

“We have and will continue to condemn acts of violence, regardless of the motivations behind them,” he said in a statement. “Violence, under any circumstance, is never acceptable.”

It should be noted that the statement from the Colorado GOP doesn’t specifically name Rep. Windholz, simply noting that “some” officials have made statements since last week’s shooting that “do not reflect the views of the Colorado Republican Party.” That’s the same boilerplate language that GOP chairman Steve House and his predecessor Ryan Call have repeatedly cut and pasted to respond to grossly impolitic statements from GOP lawmakers like Sen. Vicki Marble and Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt.

Who, we are obliged to note, both remain in office.

What we’ve heard, at least initially, is that there isn’t much appetite on the Democratic side to carry out a recall election against Windholz–since they felt confident after her razor-thin margin of victory in a strong “GOP wave” election that 2016 would be a pickup opportunity. With the addition of this major message disaster to Windholz’s baggage train, it’s reasonable to assume that a defeat in 2016 is even more likely. On the other side, sources tell us Republicans are highly reticent to do anything that might damage Windholz, operating on the hope that she can live this “gaffe” down and retain the advantage of incumbency.

We’d say they’re probably both making the best possible choice from their respective points of view–but Windholz, or even a “generic” Republican candidate (in case the GOP was considering finding one), was most likely going down in 2016 anyway.

For all of these reasons, re-arranging the Titanic’s proverbial deck chairs may not be worth the effort.

Facts vs. Fear As Terrorism Debate Intensifies

san-bernardino011_3516486bThe Durango Herald’s Peter Marcus has an insightful story up today discussing the similarities and disparities between recent fears over terrorism in the United States and last week’s domestic terror attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs–a story already taking on additional relevance as news events elsewhere add urgency:

Members of Colorado’s congressional delegation continue to look overseas to stop terrorists attacks, as groups in Colorado say the spotlight should be placed here in America after last week’s shooting spree at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood.

Perhaps the most vocal member of the delegation has been U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, who called for halting a Syrian refugee program after the Paris terrorist attacks last month, in which at least 130 people died…

But groups in Colorado and across the nation say Congress should also be looking at domestic terrorism.

The calls have grown after last Friday’s Planned Parenthood shootings, in which a police officer and two civilians were killed at a clinic in Colorado Springs. A clear motive has yet to be released by authorities, but reports suggest that the suspect referred to “baby parts” upon surrendering. Reproductive-rights advocates believe the incident should be treated as domestic terrorism against women…

“History has demonstrated that refugees fleeing violence and oppression in other nations are not a threat to the United States,” said Amy Runyon-Harms, executive director of ProgressNow Colorado. “Reasonable measures to ensure security while meeting humanitarian obligations are acceptable.

“But as we tragically learned last week in Colorado Springs, terrorism can be entirely homegrown,” she said. “In both cases, what is needed now is clear-headed responsibility and compassion – not fear and falsehoods.”

Yesterday, yet another horrific mass shooting left 14 people dead and more injured at a holiday party of San Bernardino, California county employees. The case in San Bernardino, as of this writing, may involve “mixed motives” of both workplace violence and a potential connection being reported today to international terrorism.

Rep. Scott Tipton (R).

Rep. Scott Tipton (R).

The biggest problem with using yesterday’s shooting in San Bernardino to underscore Rep. Scott Tipton’s argument against admitting Syrian refugees to the United States, as Republicans are quickly seeking to do today, is that the attackers were not refugees. Despite their Middle Eastern surnames, the principal attacker and county employee was a U.S. citizen, and his apparent spouse and co-conspirator came into the country on a fiancee visa. The circumstances as we understand them today, admittedly based on limited available information, do not bolster the case for denying entry of Syrian refugees into the United States in any way. Refugees are subject to vastly higher degrees of scrutiny then people who come to this country on tourist, student, business, and yes, marital visas.

And that means what happened in San Bernardino yesterday, on a practical level, has more in common with the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood terror attack than last month’s ISIS terrorist attack in Paris. It means the remedies needed are domestic remedies, not punitive action against helpless refugees.

Unfortunately, those facts may well be subsumed by public panic if connections to international terrorism in the San Bernardino attack are confirmed. Surnames, skin color, and religion are likely to be as far as many Americans choose to read before rendering a xenophobic judgment. But the truth as we understand it now from San Bernardino does not reinforce Tipton’s demagoguery against refugees. Sen. Michael Bennet, who has sponsored legislation to enhance screening of refugees but does not support a wholesale freeze, is much closer to the levelheaded measures needed–without giving the terrorists the victory of frightening us into rejecting refugees who are in many cases fleeing those same terrorists.

In short, these are the moments when it’s hard to do the right thing. But also the moments when doing the right thing matters most.

Sen. Laura Woods Deletes Freaky Facebook Post

Sen. Laura Waters-Woods.

Sen. Laura Waters-Woods.

The ability to instantly reach a vast audience of people via social media is becoming a real “kiss/curse” for some of the more radical Republican elected officials in Colorado following last week’s terror attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs. We’ve talked at length now about the angry screed from Rep. JoAnn Windholz of Adams County, in which she directly blamed Planned Parenthood for the attack on its own clinic. After that posting made national news yesterday, it was deleted–but the quite possibly fatal damage to Windholz’s political career had already been done.

After breaking the Windholz story, the Colorado Independent’s Marianne Goodland reported yesterday on another very questionable social media post from a Colorado lawmaker post-terror attack–this time from Sen. Laura Waters Woods of Arvada:

Sen. Laura Woods, R-Arvada, who played a prominent role in the Nov. 9 hearing, posted a Guy Fawkes picture on her Facebook page two days after the attack that stated: “THE MIND OF A SLAVE ASKS IS IT LEGAL? THE MIND OF A FREE MAN ASKS IS IT RIGHT? ”

Fawkes was the 17th century English terrorist who attempted to blow up the House of Lords. The image was originally created by Alan Moore in his anti-government comic book V for Vendetta, which was later turned into a Hollywood blockbuster with a pro-violent-revolution undertone…

Woods did not respond to a call for comment.

Here’s the Facebook post in question:

Screen-Shot-2015-11-30-at-10.41.09-AM

This post is somewhat cryptic in comparison to Windholz’s very direct accusations against Planned Parenthood, but the timing of the post invites obvious questions about what she meant. Woods is a stridently anti-abortion member of the Colorado Senate, and a regular participant in such activities as the Republican Study Committee of Colorado’s sham “hearing” on Planned Parenthood last month. Woods has a lengthy record of immoderate statements via social media since winning her swing SD-19 seat in 2014.

But perhaps most telling of all is that sometime after Goodland’s story yesterday, Sen. Woods deleted the post. And we’re pretty sure that wouldn’t have happened had it not been determined to be, you know, a liability.

Perhaps another reporter will be able to get Woods on the record, since she’s not returning Goodland’s calls.

Coffman, GOP Reel From Planned Parenthood Terror Attack

Still from Rep. Mike Coffman's 2014 ad using Planned Parenthood's logo.

Still from Rep. Mike Coffman’s 2014 ad using Planned Parenthood’s logo.

Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick writes today on what is emerging as an enormous political disaster for Republicans at every level of government, after they spent most of the year vilifying Planned Parenthood in the harshest imaginable terms–rhetoric now under intense scrutiny as the motivating factor in the domestic terror attack on Planned Parenthood’s clinic in Colorado Springs last week:

In the days after Robert L. Dear went on a shooting spree in a Colorado Planned Parenthood, killing three people and injuring nine and telling law enforcement “no more baby parts,” many commentators have observed that the blame for this act of abortion terrorism can be placed directly on Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, a GOP committee’s endless investigation into Planned Parenthood, and the maker of a wholly discredited “sting video” intended to show that Planned Parenthood cheerfully sells “baby parts” for profit…

Of course none of the Republicans who have made claims about the baby killers at Planned Parenthood have accepted even a filament of responsibility for the Colorado killings, or for the other five attacks on Planned Parenthood clinics since July, when the first sting videos were released. Carly Fiorina was quick to disclaim any kind of connection between her demonization of Planned Parenthood for its alleged profiteering from “baby parts” and the actions of Dear on Friday.

Lithwick proceeds to nail the problem:

What they are saying is a lie. [Pols emphasis] Every single state to have investigated the Planned Parenthood baby-parts accusations has found nothing. The congressional search has also turned up nothing. The videos cited repeatedly by Fiorina and co. do not prove what they set out to prove. There is no factual or empirical basis from which to believe that Planned Parenthood sells fetal parts for money. Indeed, more and more the candidates, like Trump, hide behind the passive “lots of people are upset about this” language of the not-quite-persuaded.

Yesterday, liberal and pro-choice groups gathered at the Colorado Capitol to denounce the wild rhetoric directed against Planned Parenthood by Republican politicians, after the release of heavily-edited undercover videos falsely accusing the organization of “selling” fetal tissue for medical research. In recent months, Colorado Republicans have seized on these videos to demand redundant “investigations” and make petty, ultimately self-defeating swipes at the organization’s public funding. These attempts have been rejected by state officials at the Colorado Department of Public Health, who are aware that the investigations elsewhere have uncovered no wrongdoing and that the videos underlying the allegations have no objective factual value.

Rep. JoAnn Windholz (R).

Rep. JoAnn Windholz (R).

At the same time liberals and pro-choice groups were holding their press conference, the Colorado Independent was moving a story that powerfully validated their contention: GOP Rep. JoAnn Windholz issued a statement flat-out asserting that the “true instigator” of the violence against Planned Parenthood is Planned Parenthood itself. This statement, tacitly excusing the actions of the alleged terrorist and blaming the victims of terrorism for the attack against them, is exactly the kind of rhetoric that supporters of Planned Parenthood say incited the attack. The Independent’s scoop on Windholz has now been picked up nationwide, and is an ugly, damning new piece of a story that already had the GOP on the defensive.

And you know who else is on the defensive? Rep. Mike Coffman. 9NEWS:

The Republicans who were blamed by name Tuesday have all recently said incendiary things about Planned Parenthood.

But, the progressive groups also listed Congressman Mike Coffman, who has moderated his position on abortion over the years.

Coffman is Colorado Democrats’ top target in next year’s elections.

He issued a statement following the rally:

“I’m deeply offended that anyone would try to exploit this horrific incident purely for political gain. Both sides should knock-off the partisan games and name-calling. It is beneath the dignity of our state and country, and a grave disservice to the victims. A horrible tragedy has happened in our state. Our focus should be on the victims, and honoring their lives and supporting their families. And we should focus on achieving justice – this shooting was a premediated atrocity, and absolutely ripe for a death penalty prosecution.”

Voting to defund Planned Parenthood recently with fellow Republicans in response to the doctored video campaign against the organization, Coffman stated that Planned Parenthood “flies in the face of human decency.” 9NEWS’ report that Coffman has “moderated his position on abortion” dreadfully oversimplifies Coffman’s attempt to thread the needle on this issue since redistricting put him into a competitive district. While Coffman votes to defund Planned Parenthood and ban abortions in Congress, he uses the group’s logo in campaign ads (photo top right). All told, Coffman has not “moderated” his views on abortion so much as he has muddied them up.

Defenders of Coffman decry the fact that he is being “singled out” for criticism while other stridently anti-Planned Parenthood politicians like Doug Lamborn have not been to the same degree. But the problem with that logic is obvious: Lamborn never used Planned Parenthood’s logo in a campaign ad.

Bottom line: there are many Republicans today whose extreme rhetoric against Planned Parenthood can be fairly characterized as incitement to violence. But in terms of hypocrisy with regard to Planned Parenthood, Mike Coffman stands alone.

The political fallout from the attack is plain to see at this point–enough that congressional Republicans appear to have backed away completely from threats to force a government shutdown over Planned Parenthood’s funding. This attack has revealed not so much the lies told about Planned Parenthood by Republicans, which were already well-known–but the effect those lies are having on some Americans who hear them and believe them. It’s not a matter of free speech, any more than yelling “fire” in a crowded theater is a matter of free speech. The situation inevitably is different now that three people are dead at the hands of a man who admitted his motive was “no more baby parts.”

And no amount of protesting their own guilt can change that.

Freshman GOP Lawmaker Blames Planned Parenthood For Terrorism Against Planned Parenthood

UPDATE: AP’s Kristen Wyatt:

“Violence begets violence,” Windholz wrote, concluding with a plea to pray for women who get abortions and doctors who perform them.

The lawmaker confirmed to The Associated Press on Tuesday that the posting is accurate but said she had nothing more to say about it…

The comments sparked and angry backlash from supporters of abortion rights.

“She basically tried to justify the violence against (abortion) providers and Planned Parenthood, and there is no justification,” said Vicki Saporta, president of the National Abortion Federation, which represents about 400 abortion providers.

—–

GOP Rep. JoAnn Windholz (center).

GOP Rep. JoAnn Windholz (center).

The reactions from Colorado Republicans to last Friday’s terrorist attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs have run the gamut, from heartfelt expressions of sympathy for the victims to defensive posturing and continued criticism of the organization. Even Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt, who has routinely said things about Planned Parenthood’s “demonic spirit of murder” in the past that could be construed as incitement, unequivocally condemned the alleged terrorist “whatever his motives.”

But in at least one shocking case, as the Colorado Independent’s Marianne Goodland reports, a sitting Colorado lawmaker appears to directly blame Planned Parenthood for the mass shooting at their own clinic last Friday. And even harder to explain, it’s one of the most vulnerable GOP freshman members of the Colorado House of Representatives:

Adams County state Rep. JoAnn Windholz blames Planned Parenthood for the Nov. 27 shooting, at its Colorado Springs clinic, that left three dead and nine injured. She is one of the few Colorado Republicans to issue a statement in the wake of the attack.

“Violence is never the answer, but we must start pointing out who is the real culprit. The true instigator of this violence and all violence at any Planned Parenthood facility is Planned Parenthood themselves. Violence begets violence. So Planned Parenthood: YOU STOP THE VIOLENCE INSIDE YOUR WALLS.”

Windholz referenced the Center for Medical Progress video that alleged Planned Parenthood and the Colorado Springs clinic were trafficking in baby body parts, the same video suspected shooter Robert Lewis Dear referred to in his oft cited “No more baby parts” statement after his attack.

“Planned Parenthood has no shame,” Windholz said. “These facts and overall mission of the abortion industry would easily send anyone over the hill who wasn’t rational.” [Pols emphasis]

We’ve posted Rep. JoAnn Windholz’s full statement after the jump. Re-reading it, we keep coming back to these words:

Violence is never the answer, but…

Folks, this is a sitting Republican Colorado lawmaker.

Violence is never the answer, but…

Rep. JoAnn Windholz was elected to her House seat in 2014 by the narrowest of margins, barely defeating incumbent Rep. Jenise May despite the biggest “Republican wave” elections in Colorado since Democrats retook control of the state in 2004. In the previous presidential election year of 2012, May had absolutely dominated the race, defeating her GOP opponent by 15 points.

All we can say is, when these nigh-on unspeakable comments about the Planned Parenthood terror attack find their way into ads and mailers against Rep. Windholz next year, she’s screwed. There is a strong likelihood that we will look back on this moment next November as the moment Rep. Windholz’s brief political career imploded.

(more…)