An in-depth story in the Vail Daily by freelance reporter David O. Williams could spell big trouble for GOP attorney general candidate George Brauchler: after taking fire from fellow Republicans for supporting “red flag” legislation to get guns out of the hands of dangerous persons with mental illness, Brauchler appears to be backtracking in order to shore up base Republican support heading into the general election:
Brauchler last month said Colorado’s background check law, passed in a package of gun bills during a heated 2013 legislative session that led to the unprecedented recall of two Democratic lawmakers, “has some value to it because we’re able to stop people who shouldn’t get guns.”
But in a 2017 Denver Post story surveying the positions of various candidates for governor (before he dropped out to run for attorney general), Brauchler said he opposed the background check law. He also opposes the 2013 law limiting magazine capacity to 15 rounds…
Opposing every one of the gun safety laws passed in 2013 by the Colorado General Assembly is an article of faith among Republicans, but the shift in public opinion that occurred this year after a mass shooting at a high school in Florida gave Brauchler a bit more space to side with the overwhelming majority of the public who supports common-sense measures like tightening background checks.
But as of now, Brauchler is back to dissing the 2013 universal background check law:
“That universal background check bill would have done nothing had it existed on July 19 (2012) or before for our shooter in Aurora,” Brauchler said. [Pols emphasis]
As for the magazine limit law, by far the most reviled by gun rights supporters of any of the measures passed in 2013? Here’s what Brauchler says now:
Brauchler said Holmes’s gun actually jammed after 65 trigger pulls and malfunctioned because he didn’t properly clean his weapon after practicing with it several times in the mountains.
“So, do I think that changing the magazines might have given someone a better chance? Maybe,” Brauchler said. “But this guy practiced changing out the magazines quickly. His problem was he did not anticipate a jam, had never experienced a jam and didn’t know the immediate action drill to clear a jam was, so that kind of providential turn of events did more, in my opinion, than any magazine capacity ban would have done.”
Longtime readers will recall when former GOP Sen. Bernie Herpin, who briefly held recalled Senate President John Morse’s seat in 2013-14, claimed it was “a good thing” that the Aurora theater shooter had used a 100-drum magazine, because of the fact that the weapon eventually jammed. This contention is severely undercut by the reality that 65 rounds were fired successfully through that weapon before it jammed, resulting in the majority of the bloodshed in the shooting. Whatever practice the shooter may have had changing magazines, that still would have been preferable to firing off 65 rounds with no interruption whatsoever.
The fact that we are obliged to explain this to the prosecutor in the trial of the shooter shows the extent of the gun lobby’s dogmatic control over Republican politics–to the extent that something as obvious as “yes it would have been better if the Aurora shooter had not been able to cook off 65 rounds in a row” can’t be admitted to by someone who absolutely knows better. Of course a few seconds after every 15 rounds could have made a difference. It’s absurd to suggest otherwise.
Though unsuccessful in persuading fellow Republicans to go along, Brauchler had some credit coming for his support of the “red flag” bill, even though it was toxic to his base of support. This nonsensical denial of the obvious devastating effect of a high capacity drum magazine in the Aurora shooting undoes that goodwill entirely, and makes Brauchler look like just another hapless tool of the gun lobby.
And it’s easy to see why survivors and families of the victims are begging voters to not promote him.