Last weekend, Republican State Rep. Matt Soper (R-Delta) posted on Twitter that efforts to enact gun safety measures (presumably by the state legislature) could have ominious consequences. As Soper wrote: “We will NOT bow to tyrants and those who seek to disarms [sic] us need to be prepared for civil war!”
On Monday, Soper asked for a moment of personal privilege on the House Floor so that he could “apologize” for his words, though he never actually said WHAT part of his Tweet needed clarification. Soper also did not delete the Tweet in question — he was probably thrilled at the engagement it received — so there’s no reason to take him at his word that he felt some sort of regret for anything he wrote.
Media outlets have picked up on this story, which we first noted on Sunday. The consensus response is that Soper’s “apology” made about as much sense as trying to show your gun nut bonafides by firing an old-timey musket.
As Kyle Clark of 9News explained last night, his station reached out to House Republicans to get clarification on what, exactly, Soper was apologizing for…but got no response.
Soper’s “apology” didn’t make sense on the Western Slope, either. As Charles Ashby writes for the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel:
In an uncharacteristic comment, Rep. Matt Soper called for civil war over several bills before the Colorado Legislature dealing with gun control. [Pols emphasis]
Without being specific about what of the four gun measures he was referring to, the Delta Republican wrote:
“Come and take it! They’ll have to invade the West Slope and murder us if they intend on us being defenceless! (sic),” he wrote in a Saturday tweet, a comment he also sent to The Daily Sentinel earlier that day. “We will NOT bow to tyrants and those who seek to disarms (sic) us need to be prepared for civil war!”
On Monday, Soper stood before the Colorado House and apologized for at least “some of those words,” but didn’t say which words he was apologizing for using. [Pols emphasis]
In his non-apology apology on Monday, Soper began by saying, “Normally I’m known as rational and reasonable, and choosing my words very carefully.” Soper than immediately contradicted himself when he said of those words, “They were chosen carefully.”
In other words, Soper “carefully” chose his threat about gun safety laws inciting a “civil war.” This was not a mistake. Soper did not misspeak. The only reason he pretended to apologize is because he hoped media outlets would pretend that he apologized, too.
Soper’s statement on Monday is another reminder that we shouldn’t make any extra effort to be surprised when elected Republicans in Colorado use theatrical and uncouth rhetoric on any particular issue. Soper’s words over the weekend were not “uncharacteristic” — they were perfectly in character for a Republican who has shown again and again that he’ll do or say pretty much anything to remain in elected office.
Two years ago, Soper did basically the same thing on a different topic. Soper was called out by Charles Ashby at the Daily Sentinel for comments on Facebook in which Soper alleged — without a shred of evidence — that municipal elections in Mesa County had been rigged by Dominion Voting Services (Soper is also a supporter of former Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters). Soper DEFENDED his comments in an interview with Ashby, using the now-common Republican canard of saying, Hey, we’re just asking questions!
Later that summer, Soper got caught red-handed trying to illegally influence the redistricting process in order to make sure new district lines were drawn to benefit his re-election hopes. A few months after this episode, Soper dismissively referred to an argument between Republican Congressperson Lauren Boebert and Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar as a “cat fight.” Soper didn’t apologize for any of those comments, either.
The only difference between someone like Soper and his even more extreme and ridiculous colleagues (we’re looking at you, Reps. Scott “There is No” Bottoms and Ken “Skin” DeGraaf) is that Soper likes to pretend that he practices a more reasonable ridiculousness.
Threatening a civil war, as Soper did, is not “uncharacteristic” of him or his caucus. Hijacking a hearing about the Equal Rights Amendment in order to attack transgender people and abortion rights is not “uncharacteristic” of the GOP. This is who they are now.
Colorado Republicans keep showing us their true selves. We may wish they were different than they are. We may want to see something more in them. But we can’t find something that isn’t there.