UPDATE: Democrat Jason Crow, Coffman’s likely General Election opponent, released this online ad today addressing the need for gun safety and Coffman’s wishy-washy approach to the issue:
The Hill reports from yesterday’s CNN town hall event in Florida on gun violence in the wake of last week’s school shooting at a high school in Parkland–at which GOP Sen. Marco Rubio made new statements about gun safety that could shift a debate that has been fractiously stalled in Washington for many years, and in Colorado since the dramatic 2013 recalls over gun control bills passed that year:
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Wednesday announced he supports a law that would raise the age requirement to purchase a rifle, and would consider a ban of large-capacity magazines…
“I absolutely believe that in this country, if you are 18 years of age you should not be able to buy a rifle. I will support a law that takes that right away,” Rubio said.
He added that he supports banning bump stocks and improving the country’s background check system, measures that have received support from the Trump administration and other lawmakers.
Later in the town hall, Rubio also announced he is rethinking his past support for large-capacity magazines.
“I’ll tell you why,” Rubio said. “Because while it may not prevent an attack, it may say lives in an attack.”
Of all the gun safety bills passed in Colorado in 2013 in response to the Aurora theater mass shooting, by far the most controversial in terms of stoking anger among gun enthusiasts is the ban on gun magazines with a capacity higher than 15 rounds. It was the so-called “mag ban” that gun rights supporters called a step too far, and helped fuel the short-lived fire that ended with the recall of two Democratic state senators.
Today, Sen. Rubio’s newfound willingness to at least consider a limit on magazine capacity, after so many mass shootings have proven how high-capacity magazines balloon the casualty count, shows how far the debate on guns has come since 2013. Rubio is of course notorious for flip-flopping on hot-button issues, and it remains hard to imagine that a magazine limit could pass in the current NRA-dominated Republican Congress. But there’s no question that the landscape of this debate is shifting. Rubio, who represents a state that has witnessed extreme carnage in mass shootings in 2016 in Orlando and again last week, could represent a break in one of the great logjams in American politics.
Contrast Rubio’s responsiveness to that of Colorado’s Rep. Mike Coffman, whose district includes the Century Theater in Aurora where in July of 2012 12 people were killed and dozens injured by a shooter utilizing a 100-round drum magazine, as AP reported yesterday from his very tough town hall Tuesday night:
Sharp questions about guns dominated the hourlong town hall. Coffman said he was willing to discuss “reasonable restrictions within the parameters of the Second Amendment,” a statement that drew fierce boos from the crowd…
He spent much of his time defending some of his previous votes, including for a bill last year to require states to accept concealed-carry permits from other, less-regulated states and another for a bill rolling back an Obama administration rule confiscating guns from people judged not competent enough to manage their Social Security benefits. Coffman contended it was a civil rights issue and noted the American Civil Liberties Union and disability rights groups supported the rollback, a statement that also drew hearty boos.
“I cannot understand how somebody who represented the district that has the Aurora theater in it can say this is a bad idea,” Alex Tillman, 48, who works in risk management, told Coffman.
Press this week for Rep. Coffman on guns, both before and since his town hall on Tuesday, has been very bad. We wrote before that event how Coffman’s response to last week’s shooting that we need to be “laser-focused on mental health,” in dissonant contrast to Coffman’s record of voting against wider access to and coverage for mental health, was totally inadequate.
Now, with other Republicans leapfrogging Coffman’s weakness on guns, he looks even worse.