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February 24, 2023 12:19 PM UTC

Whose Caucus Is It, Anyway?

  • by: Colorado Pols
Colorado House Minority Leader Mike Lynch (R).

Denver Post political reporters Seth Klamann and Nick Coltrain followed up on the antics yesterday from Rocky Mountain Gun Owners at a press conference announcing new gun safety legislation, in which the “no-compromise” gun rights group’s executive director Taylor Rhodes disrupted the event from the sidelines and later accused Sen. Tom Sullivan, career postal service employee and father of an Aurora theater mass shooting victim of “going postal” in anger over Rhodes’ own rudeness:

Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, a gun rights organization that has already pledged to fight gun control legislation in court, reiterated that threat Thursday: The group’s executive director, Taylor Rhodes, interjected to ask lawmakers about the legality of the proposals. As Fenberg tried to move on, Rhodes and Sullivan promised to see each other in court.

Rhodes later said his group plans to turn the building “into a circus” over the bills. [Pols emphasis]

As our longtime readers know, RMGO has alternately been a close ally or a nagging thorn in the side of Republicans in the Colorado legislature for many years, generally dependent on the degree of deference shown to the group at the time by GOP leadership. Running afoul of RMGO’s “no compromise” position on gun rights that includes opposition to any kind of background check or restriction on weapons capability has resulted in damaging attacks on fellow Republicans by the organization. As we wrote yesterday, since the group’s apex of power in 2013 when three Democratic Senators were driven from office over gun safety bills passed that year, RMGO’s influence has waned in recent years, failing to make good on their promises of recalls in response to the “red flag” law passed in 2019.

This year so far, however, RMGO has dominated the headlines around the gun safety debate in the Colorado legislature–and not in good ways, from the group’s lobbyist testifying that Black male children should be excluded from gun death stats to yesterday’s uncouth disruption of the Senate Majority’s press conference. How is that sitting with Republican House Minority Leader Mike Lynch, you ask?

House Minority Leader Mike Lynch, a Wellington Republican, said that disruptive tactics aren’t part of his caucus’s plan and that he won’t promote that kind of behavior. [Pols emphasis] But he pledged as much a fight as his minority can muster.

“You will see as vigorous of an opposition to this as any legislation you’ve seen come through here,” Lynch said.

Minority Leader Lynch says he won’t “promote” behavior like RMGO exhibited yesterday, but he also won’t condemn it outright–because to do so would bring the organization’s wrath down upon himself. What we’re left with is the gun lobby in full control of the GOP’s message on gun policy at the Capitol, demanding adherence to an extreme position that the voting public doesn’t share, and engaging in antics that Republican leadership will publicly condemn but in every other respect condone.

This isn’t 2013, when the state’s leftward political trajectory was still in doubt. After a decade of evolving public opinion on the issue of gun safety, the effect will be to alienate even more swing voters from a GOP minority that can’t afford any more attrition. If that isn’t what Republicans want, they have to actually do something different.

That is not what we are seeing. What we’re seeing is the same old circus.


4 thoughts on “Whose Caucus Is It, Anyway?

  1. I'm uncertain how much benefit will come from the four bills.  Anecdotally, they will help.  Statistically?  who knows.

    But I find it interesting that the small delegation of Republicans are announcing opposition — but don't seem to have any alternatives to offer that will diminish risk of successful suicide, help to remove weapons from those that family members or law enforcement are concerned may be a risk of harming themselves or others, or deal with illegal weapons that do not have a serial number. 

    They can perhaps delay the legislative process and certainly can vote "no" — but is there any policy proposal they favor that might draw some Democratic support?

    1. No. Because they don't care about the harm their "lovies" cause to others. Most people outgrow their security blanket or their teddy bear, but not these guys

  2. … the same old circus.

    Answering the question: Whatever happened to that one kid? You know, the one who always said he dreamed of one day growing up to be a rodeo clown?

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