Continuing on a surprisingly rich line of inquiry, that is the wide-ranging falsehoods employed by gun proponents in Colorado as the General Assembly debates legislation to reduce gun violence. Yesterday, we revealed that Colorado Republicans are claiming in outreach material to constituents that Democrats are working to "prohibit and criminalize the private transfer of firearms"–which no legislation proposed in Colorado (or elsewhere) seeks to do.
Today, we noted GOP Sen. Randy Baumgardner's claim in a recent debate that "hammers kill more people than guns," which is as absurd as it is easy to refute; in truth, guns are used in 17 times the number of murders than hammers.
Last week, editor Greg Moore of the Denver Post interviewed David Keene, president of the National Rifle Association. At about 3:15 into the interview, Keene says this:
KEENE: The governor, in the past, and Coloradans in general, have looked at these questions pretty reasonably. And after the Columbine shootings, they tweaked Colorado's laws, they didn't go after firearms, they didn't try to ban everything, but they looked at the peculiar problems that might exist, that they could fix, and I think they did a reasonable job of doing that. [Pols emphasis]
Now, listening to that, as Greg Moore did without questioning anything Keene said, you might get the idea that the National Rifle Association supported–or at least didn't actively oppose–the passage of Amendment 22 in 2000, and other legislation proposed in the aftermath of the shootings at Columbine High School in 1999.
And…you would be wrong. If Moore had bothered to look at the reporting of his own paper from that time, he would have known that the NRA spent hundreds of thousands of dollars opposing Amendment 22. By October 26 of 2000, the NRA had spent almost $660,000 opposing this initiative, which went on to pass by 70% of the vote. In the 2000 legislative session, numerous pieces of legislation were proposed to reduce gun violence–if you will, "tweakings" of Colorado law. In contrast to Keene's version of events, what actually happened?
Again, Greg Moore's own Denver Post, from May 4, 2000 (no longer available online):
Owens said lawmakers gave him the one bill he wanted most – SB 125, which put into law the governor's executive order re-instituting Colorado Bureau of Investigation background checks of gun buyers. But the rest of the governor's package crumbled under intense lobbying by gun-rights advocates, including the National Rifle Association. [Pols emphasis]
So, what exactly is it that the NRA thought was "reasonable" after Columbine to "tweak" Colorado law? Because it probably wasn't any of these things they spent hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting.
Now, instead of blithely smiling along while the NRA's president blew sunshine up his kazoo, might it have been better if Denver Post editor Greg Moore had known the truth about what actually happened, not very many years ago, in the state whose flagship paper he is editor of? Would it have helped if Moore had gone into this interview with facts instead of softballs?
Yes, folks, it would have. But so far in this year's gun policy debate in Colorado, local media has failed miserably in attempting to sort fact from fiction. These aren't questions of nuance or interpretation. In this debate, one side has deliberately chosen to discard the facts. And if the press won't do their jobs, they just might get away with it.