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AG Weiser: Sheriffs Will Enforce “Red Flag” Or Let People Die

Attorney General Phil Weiser (D).

Colorado Public Radio’s Allison Sherry:

State Attorney General Phil Weiser told gun control advocates Tuesday that despite some sheriffs threatening not to enforce the state’s new “red flag” law, he believes they will rethink that decision when faced with the realities of an armed and potentially dangerous person.

“It won’t be an abstraction,” Weiser said, during a panel of lawmakers hosted by Colorado Ceasefire and Colorado Faith Communities United to End Gun Violence. “It’s ‘my daughter Susie is thinking about taking her life, and she has procured weapons, can we do something my sheriff?’ And at that point, it’s not rhetoric, it’s human life.”

…Some sheriffs have said they will not enforce it and a number of county commissions have passed resolutions to prevent local law enforcement from carrying out ERPOs.

“Almost all those ordinances say the following, ‘we don’t want our sheriff in our county to implement an unconstitutional gun law’ to which I have always said in those counties, ‘I don’t either,’” Weiser said. “And the extreme risk protection law is constitutional and will be upheld.”

It’s a point we’ve made previously about the state’s extreme risk protection order (ERPO) law, even as county sheriffs in many cases hand-picked by the hard-right Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) defiantly promise to never enforce the new law within their jurisdictions. What is going to happen when the first family member of a suicidal person seeks help from their county sheriff under the ERPO law and is rebuffed because the sheriff refuses to enforce the law?

No one would ever wish for a tragedy take place in order to prove a political point, but once there are demonstrable cases of lives being lost due to a sheriff’s refusal to enforce state law, something akin to legal hell is going to break loose. A sheriff who has arbitrarily decided not to enforce this law, with the result of a person who could have been saved dying, must reckon with the legal and moral aftermath of that decision–and it won’t be nearly as easy to bluster on about the Second Amendment to the families of the dead.

This is part of the reason why, even though he staunchly opposed the new “red flag” law in Colorado, El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder condemned the idea that “a Sheriff, a Chief of Police, a Mayor, or ANY elected person [can] decide if a law is ‘constitutional’ or not.”

For his part, AG Weiser yesterday threatened county sheriffs who refuse to enforce a lawful ERPO from a judge with contempt of court proceedings, and vowed to defend judges against sheriff’s appeals. Beyond that, if it can be proven that a sheriff was “willful and wanton” in their refusal to enforce the law, demonstrating a “conscious disregard for the safety of others,” they could face personal liability for the outcome despite the state’s public employee immunity law.

For now, it’s a hypothetical discussion.

Very soon, unfortunately, it will not be hypothetical. And the wild rhetoric against this law will not age well.

The Hard Truth About Suicide And Gun-Loving Sheriffs

Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams (R).

FOX 31’s Rob Low correlated a data point in the renewed debate over gun control in general and Colorado’s extreme risk protection order (ERPO or “red flag”) law in particular: something so significant and troubling that we wanted to make sure it was mentioned in this space.

Supporters of Colorado’s “red flag” law say the measure is more likely to prevent suicides than mass shootings, even though it’s the recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio that led President Donald Trump to embrace red flag laws as a way to reduce gun violence.

In Colorado, more than half of the state’s 64 counties have declared themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries opposed to the the red flag law. Many of those counties have the state’s highest gun suicide rates, according to statistics provided to FOX31 by the Colorado Department of Health and Environment… [Pols emphasis]

Counties with large urban populations like Denver and Boulder tend to have lower rates of suicide by gun: 6.5 deaths per 100,000 people in Denver; 8 per 100,000 people in Boulder between the years of 2013 and 2017. However, Custer County averaged 49 gun suicides per 100,000 people over the same time period.

Gun rights proponents often insist that suicides involving guns should be excluded from statistics used by gun control supporters, arguing that because only the perpetrator is harmed in suicide such incidents shouldn’t “count” as according-to-Hoyle gun violence. But the undeniable positive correlation between access to guns and their use in suicides as well as crimes against other people is why ERPO laws permit the removal of guns from persons ruled to be a risk to themselves or others. Suicide prevention is every bit as important as, and in theory more likely to form the basis of ERPO requests than individuals plotting attacks on others.

With respect to the large number of elected county sheriffs who have announced their intentions to refuse to enforce Colorado’s new ERPO law, the high suicide rate in many of these same counties is going to put these politician-sheriffs in a very difficult position after the law takes effect on January 1, 2020. It won’t be long, perhaps a matter of days, before someone who could have intervened in the suicide of a family member is thwarted by a county sheriff who refuses to enforce Colorado law. It’s not a hypothetical. It’s a certainty.

And it’s not something we’d ever want to face the news cameras to explain.

Colorado Sheriffs Debunk “Sanctuary” Fakery

An open letter this week from the County Sheriffs of Colorado attempts to clarify the role and legal responsibility of law enforcement with regard to detaining undocumented immigrants for eventual transfer to federal immigration authorities. Our generally conservative elected county sheriffs in Colorado are clearly taking heat from constituents energized by the President Donald Trump, and want out of the low-information line of fire:

Recently, there has been increased interest in the topic of how local governments work with federal immigration authorities. As Colorado Sheriffs, we’ve received inquiries on how our jails cooperate with Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE.) Some have claimed that Colorado Sheriffs offer sanctuary to illegal immigrants in their custody. Let us clear the air.

Sheriffs hold the rule of law as sacred. We are elected with the authority to enforce the laws of Colorado and to protect the rights guaranteed in the federal and state Constitutions.

Our jails serve two distinct purposes. One is a judicial function, the other is a detention function. Under our judicial function, we hold persons accused of a crime awaiting trial, if a court has not authorized their release. This includes persons taken into custody on warrants issued by a judge or persons arrested by a peace officer under a probable cause arrest. If the court authorizes the arrestee’s release, we must release them…

Outside of legally recognized exigent circumstances, we cannot hold persons in jail at the request of a local police officer or a federal agent. To do so, would violate the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution. While Colorado Sheriffs do not have the authority to enforce federal laws, we do work cooperatively with a large variety of federal law enforcement agencies. At times, we participate in federal task forces and other times, we share information on potential federal crimes with those federal law enforcement agencies. This includes sharing information on all arrestees in our jails with the FBI and ICE. This gives them the opportunity to determine which arrestees might also be wanted by federal authorities or who might be in violation of our federal immigration laws.

If federal authorities present us with a warrant or other detainer, signed by a judge or a magistrate, we hold those persons for federal authorities to pick up. However, the courts have ruled that we have no authority to hold arrestees on administrative holds that have not been reviewed and approved by federal judges or magistrates.

Sheriffs have informed ICE that in order to comply with the 4th Amendment, we must get judicially approved holds or warrants. However, at this time, ICE chooses not to do this.

Recently, some have chosen to accuse Sheriffs of providing sanctuary to illegal immigrants, simply because we are complying with the Constitution, as determined by federal courts. This is an absolutely unsubstantiated and ridiculous claim. [Pols emphasis]

We wouldn’t put any bets on the Peter Boyles talk-radio crowd laying off the sheriffs and local governments who they regularly accuse of everything up to and including treason for not keeping undocumented immigrants locked up, but this letter is useful to prove to anyone not already on the fringe of the issue that our local law enforcers are enforcing immigration law to the full extent that it is practicable to do so.

So, you know, enough with the conspiracy theories and stupid bills.

So Long, Sheriffs: Gun Lobby Lawsuit Loses More Steam


Colorado county sheriffs pose for an NRA photo shoot last spring.

An important development last Wednesday in the ongoing legal action by the gun lobby against gun safety legislation passed in Colorado this year, as reported by the Associated Press' Ivan Moreno. Don't let this slip down the Thanksgiving weekend memory hole:

Sheriffs in most of Colorado’s 64 counties filed the lawsuit in May, saying the new regulations violate the Second Amendment. The sheriffs are elected and represent rural, gun-friendly parts of the state.

In her ruling, Krieger said sheriffs still can choose to join the lawsuit in an individual capacity, and they’ll have 14 days to make that decision. But they cannot, as a group, sue the state in their official capacities.

“If individual sheriffs wish to protect individual rights or interests they may do so … however, the sheriffs have confused their individual rights and interests with those of the county sheriff’s office,” Krieger said.

We'll be the first to admit that rounding up a majority of Colorado county sheriffs–generally conservative elected officials who have been boosted for years by pro-gun groups like the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners–to publicly front the opposition to these new gun safety bills was a brilliant public relations move. In Colorado, the huge difference between elected conservative county sheriffs who opposed the new laws for political reasons and appointed police chiefs who generally supported them for practical reasons was lost on the public. Furthermore, some of these county sheriffs, like Weld County Sheriff John Cooke, are in fact distantly on the fringe of the gun safety debate, standing in opposition to all background checks for gun purchases. It's always been our opinion that if the voting public understood the positions held by many of these elected sheriffs, those badges wouldn't count for nearly as much.

And as the Denver Post's Ryan Parker reported on this same ruling, another major component of the fear-based messaging against this year's gun safety bills has been invalidated–again.

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Suthers Wants To Shut Down The Sheriffs

nramagsheriffs

As the Grand Junction Sentinel's Charles Ashby reports:

The 55 Colorado sheriffs who filed a lawsuit against the state over two new gun-control laws don’t have standing to sue, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said…

“I know the sheriffs are asserting that they have the ability to assert the citizens’ Second Amendment rights, but they haven’t historically asserted other constitutional rights,” Suthers told The Daily Sentinel. “The sheriffs don’t file suits to protect your Fourth Amendment rights, your Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendment rights.” [Pols emphasis]

Still, removing the sheriffs won’t stop the suit from going forward, Suthers said.

“There’s plenty of other (plaintiffs), such as the gun shops, that clearly have standing,” he said.

The lawsuit against the two central pieces of gun safety legislation passed this year, House Bills 1224 and 1229 limiting magazine capacity and requiring background checks for most transfers of firearms, has been publicly fronted by Colorado county sheriffs ever since it was filed. Prior to that, the same county sheriffs very publicly opposed the bills during their debate in the legislature. The Independence Institute, whose research director Dave Kopel is the lead attorney in the lawsuit, has employed the sheriffs and the lawsuit as a fundraising vehicle, presumably with great success. At least one county sheriff, John Cooke of Weld County, has already used this campaign as a springboard to a run for a state senate seat.

An "agreement" a few weeks ago on the enforcement of House Bill 1224's magazine limits, essentially the same terms originally defined by Attorney General John Suthers after the legislation passed, has more or less reduced the scope of the suit to simple Second Amendment constitutionality. Colorado is not the first state to have passed either a magazine capacity limit or universal background checks, and legal experts we've talked to say the chances of this case even being heard by a high court are not all that great. That means the political (see: recalls) and PR value of the suit (see: magazine cover above) is, and always was, its principal reason for existence.

We can't imagine the sheriffs will be pleased if fellow Republican Suthers cuts them out of the action.

Hello, the sheriffs were actually standing with a gun criminal

(Like we said – promoted by Colorado Pols)

On Greeley’s KFKA radio June 7, gun activist Laura Carno asked:

Does [Senate President John Morse] stand by the Colorado Senate Democrats’ tweet that sheriffs, including the Democrats, are standing with criminals for challenging these gun control measures in court?

Host Amy Oliver, who doubles as a staffer for the Independence Institute and is promoted by KFKA as "conservative, intelligent, and sexy," jumped in (@22:30):

We’ve talked about that. They tweeted out, “Sheriffs stand for criminals and against law-abiding citizens.”

Oliver neglected to mention that, in reality, CO Senate Democrats tweeted that pro-gun sheriffs stood “with criminals” because a man who shot a gun at his wife was actually standing (physically with both feet planted) on stage with the Sheriffs, when they announced their lawsuit aiming to overturn new laws banning on magazines holding more than 15 rounds and requiring background checks for most gun purchases and transfers.

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Here Come The Sheriffs

UPDATE: A photo forwarded to us from today's press conference announcing the lawsuit against Colorado's new gun safety bills, Dave Kopel of the Independence Institute on the right:

Kopel_webster_051713

See the man in the black shirt on the left? That's Clint Webster, a 2010 GOP candidate for House District 24.

What's so special about Clint Webster, you ask? We reported on Mr. Webster as part of a 2010 release of the criminal records of a number of legislative candidates, mostly Republican:

Webster was arrested in 1987 for disturbing the peace, and in 1991 for assault. Webster pleaded guilty to felony assault and menacing. The arrest report obtained from the Jefferson County Sheriff shows that Webster was apprehended after firing two shots from a semi-automatic pistol at his ex-wife. [Pols emphasis] When asked by arresting officers what his intention was when he fired, Webster stated something along the lines that he had warned his wife to stop bothering him and had even threatened to kill her, yet she ‘showed up at his home anyway.’

The Denver Post's editorial board had this to say about Webster's 2010 bid:

Many of the infractions are examples of poor judgment that occurred during candidates' younger years. But some ought to take them out of the running. Take Republican Clint Webster of Lakewood, who is running against Rep. Sue Schafer, D-Wheat Ridge, for the House District 24 seat…

Though that charge was dismissed, a more troubling incident arose in 1991. Webster was arrested after threatening to kill his ex-wife and firing two shots at her and another person from a pistol as they drove away from his house.

Here's a video report from FOX 31's Eli Stokols on Webster's 2010 bid:

"I said I was going to shoot, not kill."

Now, what do you suppose Clint Webster, of all people, was doing at this press conference today?

We can't shake the sense of amazement: these same county sheriffs stood before the Colorado legislature this year and testified against Senate Bill 197, a bill to protect victims of domestic violence from partners with guns. Today, they're standing with one of the worst Republican mistakes of the 2010 election season, a man whose biggest claim to fame is having fired shots at his wife?

Hubris, folks. There's no other word to describe it. Original post follows.

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National gun activist Pratt calls on Colorado sheriffs to arrest federal officials if necessary

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Larry Pratt, Executive Director of Gun Owners of America, praised Weld County Sheriff John Cook recently for taking a "very strong stand on what he thinks the limits of the Federal government are."

Speaking to Greeley talk show host Scooter McGee, Pratt said some sheriffs around the country are ready to arrest federal officials if, in the sheriffs' views, they are violating the U.S. Constitution.

PRATT Well, I’m very encouraged by the number of sheriffs that–it’s at least pushing 400 now, that have said– there’s a spectrum. At a minimum, they’re saying they’re not going to cooperate with any unconstitutional gun grabs that the federal government might participate in. And at the other end of the spectrum, sheriffs are saying, “Not only will I not cooperate, but if the Feds are doing something unconstitutional in my county, particularly a gun grab, I’ll put them in jail.” But they’re also addressing other issues where the Feds act unconstitutionally and threaten to incarcerate citizens of their county, the sheriffs are interposing themselves and saying, “If you try to do that, you don’t have authority, and you’re not going to do that in my county, and if you try it, I will arrest you.” This has happened in confrontations with the Forest Service, BLM, the Food and Drug Administration, and of course, the ATF – the gun police.

In a column in the Cortez Journal Monday, Montezuma Country Sheriff Dennis Spruell echoed Pratt's comments, writing that if sheriffs "think a state or federal law contradicts the Constitution, they are under no obligation to enforce it."

It wasn't clear if Pratt thought Cooke would actually arrest federal officials, or if Spruell would arrest them, if necessary to enforce their views of the U.S. Constitution, so I called Cooke and Spruell to find out. 

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Elected County Sheriffs and High-Stakes Politics Mix Poorly

We talked today about the last-minute desperation on the part of Republicans and their gun-advocate allies to kill some or all of a package of five gun safety bills that won initial passage in the Colorado Senate on Friday. A key tactic employed by Republicans and allies in this debate has been to flood the field with as any dire allegations about what these bills would do as possible, regardless of factuality. The goal being to keep the outrage bubbling harder than can be debunked–assuming the press even has the time or willingness, which they often don't.

As you know, county sheriffs in Colorado are elected officials–in a very many cases in this state, Republican elected officials who are eager for political advancement. This has made them a fast ally of the gun lobby and Republicans tryint to kill these bills, in marked contrast, for example, to appointed urban police chiefs much more inclined to support them. There are other factors in that divide, but this is the principal one.

This weekend, politicized, elected law enforcement converged with the aforementioned political desperation to kill this package of gun safety bills, and the general atmosphere of truthlessness cultivated by gun advocates.

And the results were not pretty. KRDO-TV Colorado Springs:

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa dropped a bombshell over the weekend claiming Colorado Senate Democrats are threatening sheriffs' salaries because sheriffs oppose gun control legislation. But big questions remain about who the threats came from.

Maketa made the allegations Saturday morning on the Jeff Crank Radio Show on KVOR. He said he got an email from a member of the County Sheriffs of Colorado describing a verbal conversation that person had with someone connected to Senate democrats.

"Basically in that email, it said the Senate majority leadership, the Dems, are very upset with your opposition and testimony on the gun bills and they are stating we should reconsider our positions to gain a more favorable light for salary support from the Dems," Maketa said.

In a nutshell: that Senate democrats are delaying a measure to raise sheriffs' salaries because sheriffs are speaking out against gun control…

In a talk-radio setting, something like this coming from a sworn law enforcement officer is going to sound absolutely horrible. El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa's allegation, which he represents as fact even as he throws in that it's second hand information, is pretty nasty. We, and we don't think anybody who reads this blog in either party would condone a quid pro quo arrangement of silence for pay raises, even on an issue we support. That said, things like this probably do happen, and the picture can easily form in the public's imagination.

The only problem? There's no proof of any of it.

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County Sheriffs Throw Highly Embarrassing Gun Nut Tantrum

weldnugentAP reports via the Durango Herald:

Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith backed off his hard-line stance against gun-law enforcement Thursday after he said he would refuse to enforce unconstitutional laws, including gun laws. He warned universal gun registration would lead the government to “target and prosecute law-abiding Americans who are simply exercising their constitutionally recognized right to keep and bear arms.”

According to the Loveland Reporter-Herald, Smith said later his comments were misunderstood and that he was not trying to determine which new gun laws might be unconstitutional.

Meanwhile, Sheriff John Cooke in neighboring Weld County voiced vehement opposition to President Barack Obama’s sweeping plan to address gun laws. Cooke said he would refuse to enforce any part of it. [Pols emphasis]

“I’m not going to help him in any way. I’m not going to enforce it because it’s unenforceable, and because I don’t have the resources. The federal government doesn’t have the resources,” Cooke told the Greeley Tribune.

On the one hand, what we have here is pretty simple: a relatively few staunchly partisan Republican low-level officeholders who have found a national political debate they can glom on to in their official capacity. There’s little doubt that these public statements from a few county sheriffs are being coordinated by the very well-funded and organized ideological opponents of gun control, every bit as certainly as mayors around the country are organized by Mayors Against Illegal Guns. This in itself is not unusual.

But when you get past that, and realize that these are law enforcement officers in their official capacity arbitrarily declaring what laws they will enforce, you realize that it is actually kind of a problem.

As the AP report continues, Weld County Sheriff John Cooke has settled on his very own highly laissez-faire interpretation of the Second Amendment, whereby everything, blanket statement, President Barack Obama proposed this week to reduce gun violence is unconstitutional. Especially, says Cooke, Obama’s proposal for universal background checks, which would be “a step” toward possibleВ “mandatory gun registration.”

Notwithstanding the fact that universal background checks are not tantamount to universal registration, and even though nobody’s proposing such a law in Colorado, gun registration laws were considered constitutional in the recent Supreme Court of D.C. vs. Heller that outlawed outright bans on guns–and federal courts since Heller have upheld the constitutionality of gun registration laws. In short, registration is not confiscation, and this is doubly silly because no one is even proposing registration. It is an incorrect interpretation of the law, that requires a descent into “slippery slope” irrationality to even get off the ground. To characterize this as irresponsible behavior for any public official can fairly be called an understatement.

And what will Sheriff Cooke do if the state of Colorado, not the evil Obama administration, is the first entity that enacts universal background checks–as seems increasingly likely?

On a more fundamental level, what are we to say about law enforcement officers who arbitrarily declare, based on lowbrow and faulty interpretations of the law, that they won’t enforce the law? What are we to say about law enforcement officers who decide a law is “unenforceable,” based on the stunning insight that people can still break it? As if that wasn’t true of basically every law?

It seems to us these gentlemen might be better suited to a job that does not involve enforcing the law at all.

Sheriffs For Treason

(Wow – promoted by Colorado Pols)

Eight sheriffs from Colorado (one in eight of them) attended the the first convention of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association in Las Vegas, which was sponsored by organizations including the John Birch Society.  The group basically argues that county sheriffs have a right and duty to take up arms against the United States government because they claim that the federal government doesn’t have the authority that it has exercised in fact, with court approval, from the very outset of our Republic.

Among those in attendance from Colorado were Weld County Sheriff John Cook, Montezuma County Sheriff Dennis Spruell, Montrose County Sheriff Rick Dunlap, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa, and El Paso County Commissioner Peggy Littleton.  

The Colorado delegates, however, disavowed the use of force against federal agents or simply didn’t go there in public comments one way or the other.

The United States Constitution establishes the supremacy of federal law over state law, places the courts in the position of making binding interpretations of the constitution, and defines treason to include taking up arms against the government of the United States.

To be clear, I am not saying that it is treason merely to propose and discuss a political theory under which treason is legitimate, and maybe even a duty of a local official.  Treason is defined on the basis of acts and not words in the United States.  But, to be equally clear, the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association is an organization of elected and appointed high government officials sworn to uphold the United States Constitution that argues that Sheriffs have a right to engage in acts of treason, and several of the members of this organization have either come extremely close to crossing that line, or have done so.

The organization clamis that: “The sheriff’s position overrides any federal agents or even the arrogant FBI agents who attempt to assume jurisdiction in our cases.”

Elkhart County, Indiana, Sheriff Brad Rogers, Sheriff Tony DeMeo of Nye County, Nevada, and Sheriff Dave Mattis of Big Horn County, Wyoming recounted instances in which they threatened to arrest federal government officials for doing their jobs in their counties for reasons consistent with this organization’s ideology.

Today’s front page story in the Denver Post was an important source for this post, but except for one quotation which it quotes itself from the online materials of organization in question, none of the material in this post is quoted from the story.

Sheriffs For Treason

Eight sheriffs from Colorado (one in eight of them) attended the a convention of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association’s inaugural in Las Vegas sponsored by organizations including the John Birch Society.  The group basically argues that county sheriffs have a right and duty to take up arms against the United States government because they claim that the federal government doesn’t have the authority that it has exercised in fact, with court approval, from the very outset of our Republic.

Among those in attendance from Colorado were Weld County Sheriff John Cook, Montezuma County Sheriff Dennis Spruell, Montrose County Sheriff Rick Dunlap, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa, and El Paso County Commissioner Peggy Littleton.  

The Colorado delegates, however, disavowed the use of force against federal agents or simply didn’t go there in public comments one way or the other.

The United States Constitution establishes the supremacy of federal law over state law, places the courts in the position of making binding interpretations of the constitution, and defines treason to include taking up arms against the government of the United States.

To be clear, I am not saying that it is treason merely to propose and discuss a political theory under which treason is legitimate, and maybe even a duty of a local official.  Treason is defined on the basis of acts and not words in the United States.  But, to be equally clear, the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association is an organization of elected and appointed high government officials sworn to uphold the United States Constitution that argues that Sheriffs have a right to engage in acts of treason, and several of the members of this organization have either come extremely close to crossing that line, or have done so.

The organization clamis that: “The sheriff’s position overrides any federal agents or even the arrogant FBI agents who attempt to assume jurisdiction in our cases.”

Elkhart County, Indiana, Sheriff Brad Rogers, Sheriff Tony DeMeo of Nye County, Nevada, and Sheriff Dave Mattis of Big Horn County, Wyoming recounted instances in which they threatened to arrest federal government officials for doing their jobs in their counties for reasons consistent with this organization’s ideology.

Today’s front page story in the Denver Post was an important source for this post, but except for one quotation which it quotes itself from the online materials of organization in question, none of the material in this post is quoted from the story.

So You “Won’t Comply” With The Red Flag Law, Will You?

This Saturday on the west steps of the Colorado State Capitol, a “We Will Not Comply” rally is scheduled to be hosted by pro-gun activists and Rep. Shane Sandridge of Colorado Springs, “to stand against Colorado’s dangerous & unconstitutional RED FLAG LAW (emphasis theirs) before it goes into effect January 2020.” Pro-gun rallies at the state capitol are common enough (and sparsely-attended enough) that they generally don’t warrant a mention, but with the new extreme risk protection order (ERPO) or “red flag” law set to take effect in Colorado at the beginning of January, Saturday’s rally does have some added significance.

Notably, the event does not have listed as any of its scheduled speakers as of this writing one of the state’s elected county sheriffs who have controversially declared their intent to ignore the ERPO law when it takes effect next month, which could expose those officials to sanctions including contempt of court in addition to allowing potentially disastrous public safety risks with both political and human costs. Colorado is not the only state with a red flag law, but the open defiance of a few local officials here has been a distinguishing feature of the debate.

And that got us to thinking: what exactly does it mean for individual citizens to declare they “will not comply” with the ERPO law? Does this mean they would not utilize the law to prevent a family member from harming themselves? Does it mean they would they not surrender their own guns if ordered to do so via an ERPO? Are they suggesting persons subject to an ERPO should…resist? The legal questions and liabilities are different from those faced by law enforcement, but with the ERPO law about to take effect it’s time to have a sober conversation about what this kind of rhetoric actually translates to in the real world.

Because in a few weeks this law, supported overwhelmingly by the public in every poll, is going to be real.

We predict that a good deal of the rhetoric against the law in the past year will not age well.

Steve Reams Gets His Border Photo-Op On

It’s a rite of passage for Colorado Republicans aspiring to higher office to take a trip to the Mexican border (needless to say, well outside their jurisdiction) for the purpose of demonstrating their commitment to “stopping the invasion.” Back in 2010, a group of Republican state lawmakers made a now-infamous trip to Arizona hosted by SPLC-listed hate group American Border Patrol to study the impact of that state’s anti-immigrant law Senate Bill 1070, which was later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court:

From left: 2010 House candidate (now Senate Minority Leader) Chris Holbert, then-Rep. Kent Lambert, Sen. Scott Renfroe, then-Rep. Laura Bradford, 2010 House candidate Janak Joshi, then-Rep. Randy Baumgardner.

Senator Minority Leader Chris Holbert (R-Parker)

The 2010 visit to Arizona in particular raised eyebrows due to the contact by Colorado Republican lawmakers with decidedly non-governmental militia groups and anti-immigrant activists. Lawmakers “toured” the border with the so-called “American Border Patrol” openly carrying weapons and playing with night vision equipment (photo right).

In 2014, Republican lawmakers paid another visit to the Texas border, but this time SB-1070 had been repealed and lawmakers confined their visit to official Border Patrol and other agencies. Ironically there seem to have been fewer trips of this kind to the border by Colorado Republicans since Donald Trump took office, or in any event less publicized. We assume that’s because it’s mostly Democrats heading to the border now documenting a humanitarian crisis.

With that said, Trump’s border wall remains very popular with base conservative Republican voters, the exact segment of the electorate the upwardly mobile Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams hopes to rally to victory in a future election for higher office. Reams is promising a big reveal on his Facebook page from his time on the border last week, and even though Weld County is 700 miles from the nearest Mexican border he’ll no doubt rivet his target audience with tales of intrigue and danger and steel slats.

As the most visible of the state’s elected politician-sheriffs, it’s been clear for some time now that Reams has higher ambitions–whether the legislature, the on-again off-again list to succeed Rep. Ken Buck in CD-4, or another more overtly political role than sheriff. We’re not as confident how he’ll fare once he gets there, but the border photo op checks off a telltale box.

Clock Ticks Down To “Red Flag” Law Taking Effect

Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams (R-MGO).

Reporter Alex Zorn via the Grand Junction Sentinel:

With a little more than a month to go before new gun laws take effect in Colorado, law enforcement agencies locally and across the state are finalizing their approaches to enforcing legislation that some of them opposed as it was being drafted.

The extreme risk protection order (ERPO), also known as red flag laws, passed in this year’s Democrat-controlled Legislature. The measure, HB1177, allows law enforcement or family members of troubled gun owners to petition a judge to have those weapons removed under extreme circumstances, but only if the gun owner is deemed a risk to themselves or others.

Several county officials across the state, including some on the Western Slope, spoke against the bill as it was being debated. Some counties went so far as declaring themselves “Second Amendment Sanctuaries,” such as Weld County.

Zorn reports that Mesa County Sheriff Matt Lewis, who joined with most of Colorado’s elected county sheriffs (with a notable exception in Douglas County) in opposing the state’s new “red flag” law, is still planning on enforcing the law when it takes effect with the new year. All law enforcement agencies in Colorado are required to have procedures in place to handle ERPO cases by December 31st.

As we’ve discussed a few times in this space since the passage of House Bill 19-1177, a long wait for the first ERPO case in Colorado is not expected. Intervention in impending firearm suicides is expected to be a more common occurrence than threats to the public, and in both types of cases family and household members petitioning the courts for an ERPO will start showing up quickly.

Once that happens, the law enforcement agencies who have declared that they will not enforce the ERPO law, most prominently Weld County under Rocky Mountain Gun Owners-owned Sheriff Steve Reams, are going to face a crisis. Attorney General Phil Weiser has stated that sheriffs who refuse to enforce the law face contempt of court proceedings and potentially being jailed. We believe that the moral crisis that would arise from such a refusal to enforce the law resulting in preventable death is a much more proximal concern politically, which is a nice way of saying that an elected county sheriff who lets someone die rather than enforce this law will face strong pressure to resign in disgrace and never run for public office again.

Unfortunately, it’s a question of how many preventable deaths will be necessary to convince our state’s elected politician-sheriffs to do their jobs.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (November 19)

Happy World Toilet Day; please celebrate responsibly. Now, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us on Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

The Washington Post catches us up on the latest news on today’s public impeachment hearings:

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, a National Security Council official, testified Tuesday that he spoke to an intelligence community official, whom he declined to name, about President Trump’s July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Vindman also testified in the impeachment proceedings that he was concerned about Trump’s statements about domestic politics on the call, which he characterized as “improper.”

Vindman is one of four key witnesses testifying at the House Intelligence Committee hearing Tuesday. The others are: Jennifer Williams, an adviser to Vice President Pence, Tim Morrison, another senior NSC official, and Kurt Volker, a former envoy to Ukraine.

President Trump is claiming that he doesn’t know any of the witnesses testifying in impeachment proceedings, which would probably be irrelevant even if it were true; this strategy is about as effective as claiming that everyone involved is a “Never Trumper.

Meanwhile, Trump says that he would consider testifying on impeachment matters “in writing,” a claim the President made as news was breaking that House Democrats may also be looking into allegations that Trump lied to special prosecutor Robert Mueller.

Chris Cillizza of CNN has more on Tuesday’s impeachment hearings.

 

► Today’s revelations could be just the appetizer to Wednesday’s main course, when EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland sits down in front of the House Intelligence Committee. Will Sondland have trouble “remembering” his July 26th telephone conversation with President Trump regarding efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden?

 

► Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) is the Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Asia and calls himself the “leader in the Senate” on issues relating to North Korea. Yet Gardner still hasn’t said a public word about President Trump’s recent decisions to weaken U.S. alliances with South Korea and Japan.

 

► Check out this week’s episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast for more on how Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) tries using the “Sideshow Bob” defense on impeachment.

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

Never-Ending Squabble Over Gun Magazines Turns Sinister

It’s been a big week of political news on the subject of gun control in Colorado, with two related storylines converging into what we expect will be the next big flashpoint in the 2020 session of the Colorado General Assembly–a renewed battle over the state’s 15-round limit on firearm magazine capacity, passed in 2013 in response to mass shootings in Aurora and elsewhere utilizing high capacity magazines to dramatically increase the toll of dead and wounded. In the July 2012 Aurora theater shooting in particular, a 100-round ammunition drum attached to an AR-15 type assault rifle–which only jammed after most of its capacity had been expended–was responsible for the majority of deaths.

Despite this, as the Denver Post reports, yesterday the Colorado Supreme Court heard arguments in Rocky Mountain Gun Owners’ lawsuit to overturn the magazine limit:

In arguments before the state court Wednesday, the groups’ lawyer, Barry Arrington, said that since the U.S. Supreme Court has found that the right to bear arms is a fundamental right, the state has a heavier burden to prove that the magazine limit is needed. He said they cannot meet that standard.

The law was passed in 2013, a year after the Aurora theater shooting, in an effort to limit the number of deaths in mass shootings. While large capacity magazines were used in the Columbine and Aurora shootings, Arrington said that have also been widely used by gun owners, with millions of them in existence when the law was passed.

Aurora shooting memorial, July 2012.

9NEWS’ Marshall Zelinger captured a particularly compelling exchange from yesterday’s arguments:

“The odds of you hurting more people is significantly higher than if you had to stop and reload. What’s crazy about that?” [Justice Richard] Gabriel asked.

“The evidence at trial was that two had been abused. Two magazines. Not two million. Two magazines had been abused in the state of Colorado. So, it’s literally the fact that the government is saying if it’s a one-in-a-million chance that one of these firearm components can be abused by a homicidal maniac, we get to ban them all.” Arrington said.

“If you’re going to look at statistics and you’re going to say the odds are so low that no one has ever used this for a mass shooting, then the odds are also low that anyone needs 15 rounds to defend oneself,” Gabriel said. [Pols emphasis]

A ruling in this case from from the state supreme court isn’t expected this year, but legal experts we’ve talked to do not expect the magazine limit to be overturned in the courts. The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected numerous challenges to state and local gun laws in the last 10 years. The 2008 DC vs. Heller Supreme Court decision clearly dictates that reasonable regulations on guns are compatible with the Second Amendment.

So, that’s where the issue stands legally. But 9NEWS’ Zelinger also released this week and in-depth investigative report, Overloaded, which revealed a much more essential and troubling problem: Republicans in Colorado, from the General Assembly to the elected county sheriffs RMGO has helped put in power all over the state, have created a lawless environment where gun stores and gun owners are breaking the law with impunity.

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (October 17)

You have 75 days left to fulfill your 2019 New Year’s resolutions. Now, let’s Get More Smarter. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of an audio/visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show or The Get More Smarter Podcast. And don’t forget to find us Facebook and Twitter.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

 It’s CYA time in the investigation into President Trump and his dealings with Ukraine. As the Washington Post reports:

The U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, told House impeachment investigators Thursday that President Trump outsourced the job of handling U.S. policy on Ukraine to his personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani, a decision that made Sondland uncomfortable but one he still carried out.

“I would not have recommended that Mr. Giuliani or any private citizen be involved in these foreign policy matters,” Sondland said, according to his prepared remarks obtained by The Washington Post.

Sondland, a major Trump donor who has became a focus of the impeachment inquiry due to his outsized role in U.S.-Ukraine policy, said in his remarks that he criticized the president’s handling of Ukraine policy, including the temporary hold on nearly $400 million in aid to the country and the recall of the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch. Sondland called her an “excellent diplomat” and said he “regretted” her departure, which followed a campaign by Giuliani to paint her as disloyal to the president.

Meanwhile, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney CONFIRMED to reporters that military aid was withheld from Ukraine on the orders of President Trump. From Politico:

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney acknowledged Thursday that U.S. military funds to Ukraine were previously withheld at least in part because of a desire to have the Eastern European nation investigate unfounded allegations that foreign countries may have aided Democrats in the 2016 election.

“Did he also mention to me in [the] past the corruption related to the DNC server? Absolutely,” Mulvaney said of a conversation he had with President Donald Trump. “No question about that. But that’s it, and that’s why we held up the money.”

As CNN’s Manu Raju reports, this ain’t good for Team Trump:

 

► What was that thing that President Trump was saying about corruption and nepotism? Anyway, here’s Eli Stokols of the Los Angeles Times:

President Trump intends to host next year’s G7 conference at his Doral International Resort in Miami in June, the White House confirmed Thursday, a controversial decision certain to raise conflict of interest questions given the financial benefit to Trump’s business.

Trump first floated the idea of the Doral in August at the G7 meeting in Biarritz, France, telling reporters that his property was far better than others his administration had considered, given its proximity to a major airport and the abundance of accommodations and meeting space on site.

“Each country can have their own villa, or their own bungalow,” he said.

The idea immediately generated controversy. Trump is already fighting two lawsuits suggesting that he is violating the Constitution’s emoluments clause, which prohibits U.S. office-holders from personally profiting from foreign governments.

But White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told reporters that the decision would not represent a conflict.

“The president has pretty much made it clear that he doesn’t profit,” Mulvaney said. The resort would host the foreign delegations for the G-7 conference “at cost,” he said, adding that the Doral was “far and away the best physical facility for this meeting.”

Don’t worry, though. White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney told reporters that President Trump has “pretty much made it clear that he doesn’t profit” from this decision.

 

► Don’t miss the latest episode of The Get More Smarter Podcast, featuring an interview with Congressman Jason Crow (D-Aurora):

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

Cory Gardner Refuses To Shoot Straight On Gun Control

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Only two U.S. senators from blue states have “A” ratings from the National Rifle Association, and Cory Gardner is one of them. He also has a 100% rating from Gun Owners of America and a 0% rating from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

His voting record is unequivocally pro-gun and his campaign donations (nearly $4 million from the NRA) reflect that. Yet Gardner’s public statements about gun violence demonstrate a reluctance to acknowledge his own position on the issue.

When questioned directly by reporters, Gardner becomes a moving target, evading questions and avoiding direct answers, often by claiming he hasn’t yet read legislation that was introduced months or even years earlier.

President Trump’s on-again, off-again support for universal background checks has complicated Gardner’s attempt to avoid the issue. Following Trump’s call for “red flag” legislation following the Aug. 3 shooting in El Paso, 9News anchor Kyle Clark was forced to ambush Gardner on the street to get a comment.

Clark: “Do you support President Trump’s call for “red flag” gun control?”   Gardner: “I’m certainly going to look at it, study it, and make sure it’s something that doesn’t violate rights while it does the right thing for the people of Colorado.”   Clark: “Senator Rubio (R-FL) has had a bill like that for a while, so I assume you or your staff has looked at that, [Gardner nods]. Do you think that’s a good idea?”   Gardner: “Look we have to do what’s right by Colorado and we have to make sure we’re right by the Constitution and do what’s right to prevent this kind of horrific event from ever happening again.”
 

That same day Gardner refused to give any substantive answer to a local journalist, CNN’s Clare Foran published a feature piece on Gardner and the gun issue. The article cited numerous sources, including the Colorado Times Recorder’s reporting on Gardner’s radio statements that he didn’t think that any version of Colorado’s red flag law (neither the failed 2018 bill nor the law passed this year) were constitutional.

 

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Colorado GOP In Chaos After Recalls Crash And Burn


Yesterday afternoon, the recall campaigns targeting state Sens. Pete Lee of Colorado Springs and Brittany Pettersen of Lakewood announced the failure of their efforts after having collected an unknown number of signatures short of the requirement in both districts. This news yesterday afternoon came following Friday’s announcement that the “Dismiss Polis” recall petition campaign gathered less than half the required signatures to qualify a recall question against Gov. Jared Polis for the ballot. Back in June, the recall petition campaign targeting Rep. Tom Sullivan failed after intense national news coverage highlighted the offense of trying to recall the father of an Aurora theater massacre victim for passing gun control legislation.

 

The Recall Polis “creeper van.”

Last March, Rep. Ken Buck was elected chairman of the Colorado Republican Party on a promise to teach Democrats “how to spell R-E-C-A-L-L.” The ill-fated recall attempt against Rep. Tom Sullivan was filed by Colorado Republican Party vice-chair Kristi Burton Brown, who subsequently tried to distance the party from her actions as it became clear to all parties that a serious political and moral error had been made in attempting to recall Rep. Sullivan.

The recall campaign against Gov. Polis kicked off, as readers know well, over the strenuous objections of the “Official” Recall Polis committee who (as it turns out correctly) predicted the effort would fail. Two competing fundraising operations nominally dedicated to the same extremely unlikely goal of recalling Gov. Polis confusingly solicited Republicans for funds, and laid out opposing but always unrealistic visions for how the recall would proceed. In the end the “official” committee denounced the petition drive managed by GOP attorney Korry Lewis, and wrote a big check to Colorado For Trump in hope of deflecting allegations of defrauding its donors–in spirit if not in legal point of fact.

The Polis recall petition campaign claimed to have collected around 300,000 signatures, less than half the required total let alone the 30%+ margin required to cover invalid signatures during the verification process. Because these signatures will never be turned in, no one will ever know if even these claimed numbers are accurate. Likewise with the now-dead recall petition drives targeting Sens. Lee and Pettersen–those campaigns did not disclose even an estimate of signatures they had collected, and it would be impossible to verify any number they provided. On the other hand, Democrats used these petition drives to mobilize large canvass operations in the targeted districts, giving them a jump on the next cycle.

“Herbie The Hate Bug.”

The collapse in just the space of a few days of recall campaigns that have dominated political news coverage in Colorado for most of 2019 has been so stunning that the magnitude of the defeat for Republicans risks not being fully digested by the relentless news cycle. There’s an understandable desire in the wake of this defeat to lay blame on the recall organizers, from the freaks and ghouls of the Polis recall to Nancy Pallozzi, the silly-season caricature who ran the recall campaign against Sen. Pettersen in SD-22 after losing to Pettersen by 20 points in her House race three years ago. In retrospect, yes, these were fringe types who did not deserve the attention they were paid–but the responsibility for what they did goes right back to GOP chairman Ken Buck, House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, and every other high-placed Republican who led the party to this state of ruin instead of preparing for the next general election in 2020.

The red-on-red recriminations are already starting. Buck’s absentee leadership of the Colorado Republican Party while radical subordinates like Kristi Burton Brown run amok, the chokehold of the Neville clan and Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) on the GOP House caucus as well as county sheriffs and party organizations across the state, occurring against the backdrop of the Republican Party’s massive losses in Colorado in the 2018 elections–all of this is now a burning issue for every Colorado Republican who wants to avoid another wholesale disaster in November of 2020.

House Minority Leader Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock).

Over the years as Republicans have faced ever-greater defeats in Colorado both in accordance with and opposed to national trends, voices within the party have made half-hearted and in many cases disingenuous calls for a fundamental shift in direction. After sweeping losses in 2012, Republican strategists Josh Penry and Rob Witwer said flatly that Republicans “must improve or die”–and then Penry in particular got rich as a grifting “consultant” for losing Republican campaigns. In 2016, two-time gubernatorial loser Bob Beauprez, himself no stranger to fringy self-destructive politics, tried unsuccessfully to purge the GOP’s slate of legislative candidates, incumbents and fresh faces alike, whom he believed were doing more harm than good for the party in the long term.

Today, Colorado Republicans find themselves at another such crossroads. Almost a year has been wasted in foolish pursuit of revenge for the losses of 2018 instead of getting ready to minimize what’s shaping up to be yet another Democratic wave in 2020. The state party is in the hands of unserious radicals who do not possess elementary political sense based on their own actions, and still tightly bound to RMGO and the Nevilles even as it costs them their last vestiges of relevance.

In 2010, Dan Maes led the Colorado GOP to an 11% finish in the governor’s race.

The hole they’re in today is every bit as deep, with no one but themselves to blame.

It’s Official: The Colorado GOP Is Totally Out Of Control


UPDATE #2: Sen. Cory Gardner toes the Dudley Brown line, says the Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter:

Sen. Cory Gardner took some questions in Aspen yesterday.

“I don’t support gun control,” he said of dealing with the weekend shootings. [Pols emphasis]

There it is, folks. Cory Gardner is RMGO’s man to the bitter end.

—–

UPDATE: Given that Dudley Brown told 9NEWS that Sen. Cory Gardner should face a primary if he supports a “red flag” law like President Donald Trump, here’s what Gardner told radio host Craig Silverman back in May:

Well, look, I think we have to prevent violence and we should protect our communities, but we can’t violate the Constitution. And you know, we cannot allow other rights and people’s — innocent people’s rights — to be taken in the name of trying to protect other innocent people’s rights. That’s not what the Constitution is about. Let’s find ways to stop the scourge of violence without harming people’s liberties.

And with that, recall how Cory Gardner was one of Dudley Brown’s early success stories (see below).

When we say Dudley Brown is the Colorado Republican Party, we mean it.

—–

Cory Gardner, Dudley Brown.

In the last 72 hours, events have transpired nationally that would under any normal circumstances have resulted in an instant sea change in Colorado politics. In the aftermath of two mass shootings in separate states within hours of each other that have killed over 30 people and wounded dozens more, President Donald Trump has called for the passage of extreme risk protection order legislation–“red flag” laws like the one passed in Colorado this year following the preventable killing of a Douglas County deputy sheriff.

ERPO laws enjoy overwhelming public support both nationally and in Colorado, where a 2017 survey found 80% of voters in support of laws to give family and law enforcement a court process to temporarily remove guns from people judged to an evidentiary standard to be a significant risk. It’s therefore not politically hard to understand why Trump would come out in support of them.

In Colorado, though, there’s a problem–the fact that Republicans are working to recall Democratic lawmakers and Gov. Jared Polis for passing Colorado’s “red flag” law. And the word today from our local news outlets is that even President Donald Trump can’t reason with the Colorado Republican Party. The Denver Post’s Justin Wingerter:

Dudley Brown, the director of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, which is suing to stop Colorado’s red-flag law from taking effect, slammed Trump’s remarks Monday. “You cannot infringe on the gun rights of millions of law-abiding Americans based on the actions of lawless madmen,” he said.

“Let me be crystal clear. Forcing universal (background) checks and red-flag gun confiscation laws on Americans would have done nothing to stop either of these murderers. They went through the failed and unconstitutional National Instant Criminal Background Check system,” Brown added.

Brown said he and his national group, the National Association for Gun Rights, will hold Trump and all other elected officials responsible for their gun control actions, regardless of political party.

It’s important to understand exactly what Dudley Brown of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners is saying here. Not only is he against red flag laws, Brown just called the existing instant background check system used for almost all gun sales today “unconstitutional.” Not the “universal” background checks that have been law in Colorado since 2013–Brown is actually asserting that all gun purchase background checks are unconstitutional.

For those of us who understand just how far out of the mainstream Brown and RMGO really are, this isn’t news. But realizing how extreme RMGO is on the issue of keeping guns out of the hands of criminals is critical to grasping the next critical point: RMGO effectively owns the Colorado Republican Party. Dudley Brown actually told 9NEWS yesterday that Sen. Cory Gardner, one of ther nation’s most vulnerable Republican Senators, should be primaried if he joins Trump in supporting a red flag law. And as 9NEWS’ Marshall Zelinger reports:

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Former Rep. Cole Wist Blasts RMGO, Recalls in New Op-Ed


Former Republican State Rep. Cole Wist is fed up with right-wing recall madness.

Earlier this week, former Republican Rep. Cole Wist raised eyebrows with a direct and thorough rebuke of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) and their latest recall attempt against Rep. Tom Sullivan (D-Aurora). What makes this particularly noteworthy is that Wist was defeated by Sullivan in the 2018 election cycle, in part because RMGO went after him for his 2018 support of “red flag” legislation.

In an Op-Ed published today by The Colorado Sun, Wist elaborates on his social media comments from earlier in the week and goes into greater detail about the recall grift that we have regularly discussed in this space:

Too many in politics are in it for their own personal gain, not any actual desire to affect policy or make life better for our communities
Take my experience as an example. I sponsored a bill that was opposed by the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, a group whose stated purpose is to advocate for gun rights. They didn’t like my bill, so they raised money to attack me and littered my district with nasty fliers hoping to elect my Democratic opponent, Tom Sullivan, who is an outspoken supporter of sweeping gun control.

Why would a group that says it’s about gun rights help elect a gun control supporter? Well, so they can raise more money. And that’s just what they are doing now. They are trying to recall Tom Sullivan, whom they helped elect, so they can raise more money. [Pols emphasis]

Since the 2018 election, it seems there has been a steady drumbeat for recall elections. What’s behind recall fever? Yes, many voters are frustrated with sweeping legislation passed by the legislature this year on a number of fronts, but for many trying to instigate these recalls, it’s mostly about money and feeding the political election machine.

Wist later makes it clear that while he disagrees with Sullivan’s politics, he doesn’t dispute what happened in November:

I disagree with Rep. Sullivan on a number of policies. And, I am opposed to numerous pieces of legislation that he voted for this last session. However, Rep. Sullivan won the election, and I lost. He ran on gun control and then pursued it.

Recall enthusiasts are still pushing their nonsense rhetoric, of course, as Nic Garcia reports for the Denver Post:

Yet, according to the Republicans behind the recall, Sullivan duped voters.

When I pushed Kristi Brown – the state GOP’s vice chair and leader of the charge to recall Sullivan – on this logic, she acknowledged Sullivan’s track record as a gun control activist. But she added that the legislation he sponsored went further than a previous version of the bill. She added that his votes on sex ed and oil and gas reform were part of the “overreach.”

RMGO leader Dudley Brown

One of the major problems with this, um, logic is that RMGO’s Dudley Brown already blew it up in an interview with RealVail.com last week:

REAL VAIL: Some sheriffs and prosecutors who supported red flag last year, including Eagle County Sheriff James van Beek, switched sides this year and opposed it. Why do you think that is? Did the bill change that much from 2018 to 2019?

BROWN: Nope, I don’t think they were that different, last year and this year’s bill. [Pols emphasis] I don’t think it was different enough to warrant some massive swing. It’s just this year sheriffs are able to read the tea leaves and that their constituents are now understanding what the concept of red flag is. And now they’re realizing that they’re going to face a big backlash from their constituents if they’re forced to carry out these, quote, protection orders. They don’t want to do it.

It’s tough to claim that the Sullivan recall is about “overreach” when one of the recall leaders admits that the “red flag” legislation that so angers them wasn’t much different than a similar bill in 2018. That’s pretty much the exact opposite of the meaning of the word “overreach.”

Efforts to recall Democratic lawmakers in Colorado are about two things, and two things only: 1) Making money for Republican consultants, and 2) trying to find a back door for Republicans to capture seats that they can’t otherwise win in a regular election. Every other rationale is just another way to justify one of the first two reasons.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (May 9)


The Colorado Avalanche are out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs after a controversial loss in Game 7 on Wednesday, but the Denver Nuggets can advance to the Western Conference Finals with a win tonight in Portland. It’s time “Get More Smarter.” If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► If there’s one thing you can count on from President Trump (other than lots of Tweeting), it’s inconsistency. As CNN reports:

Trump reversed course again Thursday that he will leave it up to Attorney General William Barr as to whether special counsel Robert Mueller testifies before Congress.

“I’m going to leave that up to our very great attorney general. He’ll make a decision on that,” Trump said, adding that Mueller’s report has come out and it is done.

Over the weekend, Trump tweeted, “Bob Mueller should not testify. No redos for the Dems!” But an administration official told CNN’s Jim Acosta that Trump was merely “expressing his opinion,” and was not necessarily expressing intent to block Mueller’s testimony.

 

► Congressman Jason Crow (D-Aurora), whose district includes the Highlands Ranch STEM school that was the scene of a shooting earlier this week, is introducing new gun safety legislation. From the Aurora Sentinel:

A proposed federal law from Aurora Democratic Congressman Jason Crow would ban immediate, over-the-counter sales of rifles and shotguns to buyers in states where they do not live.

Crow said the law closes a loophole “that allows purchasers to immediately obtain rifles and shotguns, but not handguns, when traveling out-of state.”…

…The proposed same-day gun legislation comes nearly a month after Sol Pais, a Florida woman traveled to Colorado, bought a shotgun and killed herself, as police across the Front Range sought her for unspecified threats to local schools the FBI deemed as credible. Law enforcement said she was “infatuated” with the Columbine High School shooting. She traveled to Colorado just days before the 20th anniversary of the shooting.

The threats caused most Front Range schools to cancel school as law enforcement searched for Pais.

Crow says this legislation would have prevented Pais from immediately purchasing a shotgun upon her arrival in Colorado.

 

► The Colorado Independent reports on Wednesday’s vote in the House Judiciary Committee to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt:

The committee voted 24-16 along party lines to approve a resolution recommending that the full U.S. House find Barr in contempt for his refusal to comply with a committee subpoena seeking an unredacted copy of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report detailing Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election…

…Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) said that, given the threats to U.S. democracy from a foreign adversary that were revealed in the Mueller report, he was “at a loss for understanding” why his GOP colleagues wouldn’t join Democrats’ efforts to secure the full Mueller report and underlying evidence. “We have no choice but to move forward with a contempt citation,” he said.

Neguse and Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) both sit on the House Judiciary Committee. Buck was a ‘NO’ vote, urging his colleagues to “move on and not attack the attorney general in this way.”

On Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested that there may be more contempt charges in the near future for Trump associates who persist in efforts to stonewall Congress.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (April 3)


Sign us up as investors in the first business to start delivering marijuana AND fast food at the same time. Now, let’s “Get More Smarter.” If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example). If you are more of a visual learner, check out The Get More Smarter Show.

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Attorney General William Barr says that he will make a “redacted” version of the Mueller report available to lawmakers by mid-April. The House Judiciary Committee isn’t satisfied with that approach, as CNN reports:

The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday approved a subpoena to obtain the full confidential report from special counsel Robert Mueller, sending a warning to Attorney General William Barr not to redact Mueller’s report and setting the stage for a clash between Congress and the Trump administration.

Wednesday’s vote, which was divided along party lines, comes the day after an April 2 deadline House Democrats set for Barr to provide the full Mueller report to Congress. House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler now has the ability to issue a subpoena for Mueller’s unredacted report as well as the underlying evidence collected during the 22-month investigation into Trump’s team…

…”The big question is, do we get the entire report and the documentation? Or does he redact it so it’s meaningless?” Nadler told on CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday.

Colorado is represented on the House Judiciary Committee by Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Lafayette) and Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley).

 

► So-called “red flag” gun safety legislation is through the state legislature and awaiting the signature of Gov. Jared Polis. The editorial board of the Pueblo Chieftain has a strong message for those who think they are doing their community a service if they refuse to enforce the new law:

Sheriffs and the deputies who work for them are supposed to be in the business of enforcing laws. That’s why it’s a little surreal to hear so many of them across Colorado vowing not to enforce the so-called “red flag” bill…

…The larger point here is that sheriffs shouldn’t be in the position of picking which laws they choose to enforce. That’s a slippery slope that, taken to its extreme, would lead to anarchy.

► The newly-elected Chairman of the Colorado Republican Party wasted no time in embarrassing the State GOP on Tuesday. Congressman Ken Buck (R-Greeley) made the wrong kind of headlines for his questioning during a hearing to amend the Equality Act when he asked a witness (who was testifying about her experience with discrimination after a same-sex marriage) if she thought requiring Christian doctors to treat gay patients was comparable to forcing Jewish doctors to treat Nazis. From Yahoo! News:

Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo, posed an even more outlandish scenario to one of the witnesses, Jami Contreras, who faced discrimination in seeking medical care for her child because she is in a same-sex marriage.

“Is it your position,” Buck asked Contreras, “that an Orthodox Jewish doctor whose grandparent was killed in the Holocaust be required to work with a Nazi patient?”

Nazis are not a protected class, meaning that adherents of a political ideology — in this case, fascism — are not covered by the anti-discrimination statute of the Civil Rights Act. A seemingly confused Contreras answered by pointing out that she and her wife were raising their child according to “Christian values” and wanted only protection from prejudice.

Click here for the full exchange during Tuesday’s hearing.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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“Gun Sanctuary” Resolutions Being Adopted by Some CO Counties Have White Supremacist Roots


(Know your history or repeat it – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Nearly half of Colorado’s 64 counties are joining a nationwide trend of passing resolutions opposing laws they don’t like, asserting that their elected county sheriffs need not enforce measures they view as unconstitutional and harkening back to a movement that has roots in white supremacy.

A proposed measure to allow law enforcement to temporarily remove guns from individuals who are proven to be dangerous has led many Colorado counties to declare themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries, meaning they don’t want their elected sheriffs to enforce gun restrictions like the so-called “red flag” bill that’s progressing in the state’s legislature. One Colorado sheriff, Steve Reams of Weld County, told CNN that he’d go to jail before enforcing the proposed law.

This idea of county supremacy, where sheriffs are seen as defenders of the constitution in the face of what conservatives view as overreach from state and federal governments, has roots in far-right and white supremacist movements.

The Posse Comitatus movement, from the Latin for “power of the county,” began in the ’70s, and grew out of the Ku Klux Klan. It aimed to protect white Americans from civil rights laws that they viewed as unconstitutional. They believed that there was no legitimate form of government beyond the county level, and that there was no higher law enforcement authority than the county sheriff. Its founder, William Potter Gale, believed that the U.S. Constitution was a divinely inspired document meant to elevate white Americans above Jews and people of color.

The Posse Comitatus is no longer active, but lives on today in the form of the constitutional sheriff movement. The Constitutional Sheriff and Peace Officer Association (CSPOA) formed in 2011, and is based around the same extremist constitutional theory as the Posse Comitatus – that sheriffs can and should disregard laws they see as unconstitutional.

The movement has continued to grow alongside the anti-federal sentiment that was sparked during the Obama administration, with Colorado occasionally at the center of it, especially when it comes to gun control legislation.

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