Denver7’s Russell Haythorn reports on the debate over gun legislation at the Colorado Capitol this year, which primarily centers on a bill allowing a court to temporarily order the removal of firearms from persons in a mental health crisis–legislation which passed last year in the House with bipartisan support only to die in the then-GOP held Senate, but is greased to pass this year:
With the balance of power now squarely in the hands of Democrats at the Colorado statehouse, there’s a new push for stronger gun control.
The so-called “red flag” bill would allow judge’s in Colorado to seize firearms from gun owners who are deemed mentally unstable.
Gun-rights advocates call that measure a shameless ploy.
“Make no mistake about it, this bill is designed to confiscate firearms from law-abiding citizens,” said Dudley Brown, spokesman for Rocky Mountain Gun Owners.
A poll released last May by Keating Research shows that in Colorado, 81% of the public supports a “red flag” law of the kind that died last year at the hands of the GOP-controlled Colorado Senate. It’s a similar situation to the gun safety laws that were passed in 2013, which similarly enjoyed majority public support even as they were savaged by the extremely vocal gun lobby. “Red flag” bills have passed in a total of 13 states, including states with Republican governors and legislatures like Indiana and Florida.
On any other issue, it would be a considerable stretch to call legislation with 81% public support an example of “legislative overreach,” but as Haythorn reports, it was gun legislation that drove the 2013 recalls against state senate Democrats–recalls that have served as a catch-all boogeyman invoked by Republicans against Democrats ever since.
Outside the angry bubble of the gun lobby, however, the gun issue has politically evolved since 2013. Continuing mass shooting tragedies with record-setting body counts like the October 2017 shooting on the Las Vegas Strip have shifted public opinion, and made the no-compromise stonewall from Republicans under the influence of the gun lobby politically unsustainable. That’s one reason why in 2018, you saw a number of high-profile Colorado Republicans like attorney general candidate George Brauchler and Rep. Cole Wist come out in support of a red flag bill. RMGO responded by targeting both Brauchler and Wist with negative messages to the Republican base in 2018–and they both lost, satisfying Dudley Brown but only making passage of this bill more likely.
“Gun owners across this state are worried that the legislature is going to do again – what it did in 2013,” Brown said. “And that is take big leaps to turn us into California.”
Colorado’s 2013 legislature banned high capacity magazines and private gun sales.
The move backfired on some Democrats. Some lawmakers were recalled, and the party lost control of the state legislature in 2014.
With all of this in mind, to accuse Democrats of “overreach” for passing a red flag law supported by over 80% of the public, just like in 2013 when Democrats passed a universal background check law supported by a similar overwhelming majority, is spin to the point of absurdity. That this is not immediately apparent in every relevant local news story reflects the way the fringe of the gun debate–in Colorado, the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners–has dictated the terms of this debate for years.
At some point, maybe the local press will realize the guy on the 19% side of the equation doesn’t deserve “equal time.”