Democrats Unload on Hickenlooper Over Gun Law Ramblings

UPDATE: Gov. John Hickenlooper seeks to clarify his remarks today, FOX 31's Eli Stokols:

In his first interview on the subject, Hickenlooper told FOX31 Denver that he wasn’t aware he was being filmed last Friday during a meeting with the sheriffs in Aspen when he appeared to backpedal on the magazine ban, agreeing with one sheriff that it was unenforceable and telling the group that he didn’t expect the legislation to even make it to his desk.

The remarks, he said Friday, were an effort to apologize to sheriffs who felt their voices weren’t heard during last year’s legislative process, not a disavowal of the magazine ban itself.

“I didn’t say it’s unenforceable, I said it’s difficult to enforce,” Hickenlooper said. “A lot of laws are difficult to enforce; that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be there. If we went through the process again, I’d sign it again.” [Pols emphasis]

…A week after the meeting with the sheriffs, the governor explained that he and his staff made the decision last year to sign House Bill 1224, which bans magazines of more than 15 rounds, more than a month before the legislation reached his desk; and he said that he wouldn’t have allowed the senate to vote on the controversial measure — three Democratic senators who supported the ban were ousted from office last fall as part of a recall effort in response to the gun bills — if he were considering a veto.


Very, very bad at impromptu speaking.

Very, very bad at impromptu speaking.

The Denver Post's Kurtis Lee has been eagerly running down every conceivable angle on the lingering story of Gov. John Hickenlooper's ill-fated attempt to appease Colorado county sheriffs at a meeting last week. Today, Lee reports on the response on MSNBC last night by former Senate President John Morse, who narrowly lost a recall election last year after the passage of gun safety legislation:

Former Democratic Senate President John Morse said the comments Gov. John Hickenlooper made recently about his support of gun-control laws from 2013 is “disrespecting the families of the victims that worked so hard to pass this legislation.”

Morse supported a wide-ranging package of Democratic gun-control measures that became law last year. His backing of those bills, which include limits on ammunition magazines and universal background checks on all firearms sales and transfers, led to his ouster in a recall election last September…

Morse, in an interview with MSNBC, said the gun-control laws “did not divide the state,” and cites polls that show a majority of Coloradans back the law that requires universal gun background checks.

There is perhaps no one out there more deservedly angry with Gov. Hickenlooper over his foolish backpedaling of the 2013 magazine limit law than Sen. Morse. Morse laid everything on the line to get these bills passed, and having lost his seat by the narrowest of margins in last year's recalls, he can hold his head high–and obviously, Morse has a legacy interest in defending these laws. For John Morse, passing the 2013 gun safety bills was a goal worth the loss of his seat, and Hickenlooper's thoughtless pandering to the sheriffs is a huge slap in the face.

Like we said yesterday about this story, the real potential for political damage to Hickenlooper is limited: by the time that has passed since passage of these bills, voter fatigue with the issue of gun control, and the weakness of any potential opponent who may emerge from next Tuesday's GOP primary. But it definitely doesn't help Democratic legislators who are defending their records with voters for Hickenlooper to undercut them like this, and to have done so just to have a more pleasant meeting with county sheriffs who will never support him is simply not justifiable.

At this point, as Lee's continued interest in this story shows, Hickenlooper's silence in response to media requests for clarification of what he said to the county sheriffs is doing disproportionate harm. Hickenlooper needs to get all of his staff into a huddle–and after apologizing for pointlessly throwing at least one of them under the wheels, he needs to make sure everyone is saying the same thing. Then he needs to call reporters and tell them what that is. Maybe he claims stagefright, or altitude sickness, it doesn't matter–the biggest priority is that he stops contradicting himself and fellow Democrats.

And then, after he has taken his lumps and walked this back as best he can, he can shut the hell up for awhile.

27 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Molly Brown says:

    A little too process-oriented here for me. This is a story with meaning outside of Hick's reelection and an important one for defining his legacy – one that has so far been defined by a sickening overabundance of political calculation. Kudos to Lee and Morse.

  2. Golden GirlGolden Girl says:

    Hickenlooper has been a huge disappointment but never more so than his regretable backpeddling or whatever the hell it was to the sheriffs.  Thank you Dick Morris for standing by your principles and  CPols for airing his interview.   I don't have much faith Hick will take your advice without making things worse but one can hope.

    • ModeratusModeratus says:

      I don't think Dick Morris had anything to do with this fiasco.

    • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

      You mean John Morse, I think, GG. John Morse was the Colorado Springs Senator, one of two who was recalled during "gun fever" last year. Morse was on The Last Word.

      Dick Morris is the CEO of Crossroads, a conservative "think tank", now a propaganda arm for Americans for Prosperity, the Koch Brothers organization.

    • BlueCatBlueCat says:

      I would also advise Hick to stop digging. In today's Post one of the points he brings up in his apology for the apology (isn't that Coffman's thing?) is that he didn't know he was being recorded. Terrible point for two reasons:

      1) integrity.  You're not supposed to complain that you wouldn't have been bullshitting if you knew it was being recorded.

      2) IQ. How can any pol still be so dumb as to not realize that any time you are in a group, whether speaking to them or just shmoozing, you can and probably will be recorded?

      Lucky for Hick he will be facing the winning member of the Rs wacky and wackier team of challengers.

  3. mamajama55mamajama55 says:

    That's right – the county sheriffs will never support Hickenlooper. There is NO point in pandering to them. That 25-30% gunzo vote? They'll never support Hick, either, or any other Democrat who supports background checks and magazine limits.

    RMGO-backed legislators have had two tries to repeal the 2013 gun laws – once with a lawsuit, which has now been taken up by the Independence Institute and other non-RMGO groups, and several times in the legislature. It failed each time. Hickenlooper should have stood proudly on that record. Instead, he looks like a putz.

    As Morse said, the magazine limit will save lives, has saved lives. That's worth sacrificing a few seconds on full auto shredding the center of a paper target.


    • Negev says:

      Hi Mama! Been a long time. Hope your well. 

      With the utmost respect I wonder if you can expound a bit on the statement that the magazine limit will save lives, and has saved lives – I get the will part, but the has part I wonder – do you have an example of where the magazine limit has actually saved lives? Please take no offense I am very confident of your skills in research and I have seen you provide analysis rarely disputable, so please know I ask in open minded discussion. This is useful information. Thank you. 

      • gaf says:

        Has saved lives: In the MSNBC interview, John Morse gave the example of the Arizona incident when Gabrielle Giffords was shot. The killer was jumped when his clip ran out and he was trying to reload with a second clip. More bullets in his first clip would certainly have resulted in more deaths.

      • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

        Nice to hear from you, Negev.

        1. What gaf said – Morse recounts that the Arizona shooter stopped to reload, when he was rushed by three people.
        2. In Newtown, at Sandy Hook, a Hartford Courant report said that six of the children who escaped did so when Lanza stopped shooting because his weapon jammed or he erred in reloading it.[39. Warning – I find this wikipedia account very heartrending to read.
        3. In Seattle, the shooter was pepper-sprayed and overcome as he was reloading. Yes, he had a shotgun, not a large-magazine semi-auto gun, but he was reloading.
        4. This Washington Post story on mass shootings during the period 1994-2004 when "assault weapons" were banned seems to show a decrease in mass shootings.
        5. Here's a story that should appeal to someone with the moniker "Negev": Israel only allows soldiers, security guards, and occupiers of the west bank to have guns.
        6. Al Jazeera has a whole fascinating series on gun bans and laws around the world. I recommend it.

        I've said before that the 15 vs 10 vs 20 vs 30 magazine limit is somewhat arbitrary, not based on science.  But common sense tells us that the fewer, the better. I think that it is much more of a political compromise than an actual scientific study of how many shots must be fired in a mass shooting before the shooter reloads.

        If it were up to me, I'd stop at 10, like the New Jersey statute. I've shot a semi-auto pistol, and 10 was plenty to get half of them in the inner circles, which was all I wanted to do.


        • Negev says:

          Thank you Mama – I know where you stand on the magazine limits and find your analysis of political compromise reasonable. I would like to however indicate that there is no magazine restriction in AZ where the Gifford shooting took place, therefore it is technically incorrect to suggest that a magazine ban HAS saved lives – would have, should, could or may, agreed. HAS? Never. 

          Now, how many mass shooters have been stopped by armed opposition? Please count them. What is it exactly that common sense is telling us? I think if Mr Spock were to analyse this situation logic would render a superior solution to mag capacity bans, which I think you and I agree upon anyway. 

          I read your link to the Washington post story – the one with the "decrease" in mass shootings? You know the one with the graph on how gun violence went "down" during the ban:

          Am I missing something? They go on to say:

          Did the law have an effect on crime or gun violence? While gun violence did fall in the 1990s, this was likely due to other factors. Here's the UPenn study again: "We cannot clearly credit the ban with any of the nation’s recent drop in gun violence. And, indeed, there has been no discernible reduction in the lethality and injuriousness of gun violence."

          I also went to your link on Israel – funny thing about that place is right in the title:


          I will stop there on that one, but here in America, gun violence is down:

          While gun sales are up?:

          Again, Mama, I know your position on the mag ban, and I respect it. My hope is that "common sense" prevails in this debate.  





  4. DavieDavie says:

    Well, at least the next time Hick goes in front of a hostile audience to pander, he'll realize that anything he says will be made public (just like Romney and Coffman learned the hard way).

    • DavieDavie says:

      Although I should draw the important distinction that both Romney and Coffman were in front of friendly audiences and were providing their honest thoughts that drew the public's ire, whereas Hick, in true "I just want to get along" fashion, was simply pandering.

  5. notaskinnycooknotaskinnycook says:

    Between Gardner trying to spin himself to the Left and Hick trying to spin to the Right, I'm dizzy and I don't feel so goodfrown

  6. Gray in Mountains says:

    at our Central Committee meeting right after the sheriffs filed their suit, which our sheriff joined, he talked about enforcement difficulty. All the gun nuts got really pissed at me when I said "so are speed limits, but you do your best". Our sheriff is one of those who has vowed not to even attempt to enforce mag limits. Of course he, and all the gun nuts, are also opposed to mandatory, universal background checks.

    • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

      What is his name?

      • Gray in Mountains says:

        Rod Fenske. Still the best choice for re-election among a field of gun nuts. None with IQ higher than vegetation

        • Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

          Steve King is the odds on favorite to be the new Mesa County sheriff, at least if the Mesa County Republican Party establishment has its way. I will admit that Steve knows a few things about "cop" stuff (though little else), but that isn't the biggest issue with a candidate for sheriff. It is integrity. Steve Kings' challenges with lack of integrity are well documented. My friends tell me the other man running is an even more extreme right wing, self-possessed, gun nut… I don't know him).

          I am supporting the only woman in the race…or soon to be. A retired nurse and local community activist named Benita Phillips. She is decidedly not part of the local power structure because she is a liberal Republican…

          It took too long for us to convince her to run, so she couldn't petitition on. She will be running as a write-in and, while not given a breath of a chance by practically anyone, is picking up support from both sides of the aisle. The people who know her will tell you that her intensity is matched only by her integrity. Plus, she is a very experienced and innovative administrator and a genuine fiscal hawk..

          mostly though, she is a very good friend of mine.

          I will soon write a diary about why we really need to pay attention to things like who we elect to positions with such power. I have a slow week coming up (at last!!) and hope to post some thoughts on a couple of topics.

  7. Duke CoxDuke Cox says:

    I got it, thanks!

    You should write it, Ralphie. The stuff you sent me is important for folks to know, and we non-facebook types miss the great info we used to get when you were doing your blog before. I would love to hear everything you know about the" Dandy One".

    On the other hand, I'm betting it would fill a book.

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