UPDATE: Case in point on our cautions below, Sen. Evie Hudak (D-Arvada) offers an apology for remarks made to a witness yesterday, with a fuller elaboration on her intent as Republicans swing into reflexive hypocritical crucifixion mode via social media:
“I didn’t mean to be insensitive towards Amanda Collins’ experience. I respect the courage it took for the witnesses to share their heartbreaking stories. Amanda was reflecting on her experience and asked the committee if having a gun would have made her safer. I realize now it was a rhetorical question.
Amid this emotional testimony, my goal was to share research data about the increased danger of having a gun in an assault. As a domestic violence victim advocate, I know that for every one woman that used a handgun to kill someone in self-defense, 83 were murdered by them. My timing was not the best for making the point. I’m glad I had the opportunity to offer Amanda a sincere apology in a private conversation.”
The Durango Herald's Joe Hanel reports on yesterday's all-day debate on gun safety bills in the Colorado Senate:
Honking cars circled the Capitol, a biplane with an anti-gun control message cruised overhead, and “Don’t Tread On Me” flags fluttered in the snow as the state Senate took up seven gun bills in its committees Monday…
Shooting victims and the families of murder victims led off testimony. Space Shuttle Commander Mark Kelly, husband of former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., spoke out in favor of tighter background checks and smaller ammunition magazines.
Giffords was shot in the head while meeting constituents at a grocery store by a disturbed young man with a handgun and two 33-round magazines. Bystanders tackled him when he ran out of bullets and went to reload the magazine, but not before killing six people, Kelly said.
“Dangerous people with weapons specifically designed to kill quickly and efficiently have turned every single corner of our society into places of carnage and gross human loss,” he said.
Despite a good showing in testimony from proponents led by former astronaut Mark Kelly, there's no question that, as has been the rule this year, gun right supporters totally overran the Capitol yesterday–and dominated the audiences in attendance in both Senate committees looking at gun safety bills. FOX 31:
Hundreds of Coloradans flooded the State Capitol on Monday to make their voices heard on seven Democratic gun proposals, mostly in opposition to the measures.
Those that didn’t formally testify before the two Senate committees hearing the bills made their opposition, felt with their sheer presence — and with the constant volume of their honking horns on the streets that encircle the Capitol, a steady din in the background of these proceedings that lasted from dawn until well past dark.
The plane orbiting the capitol yesterday towed a banner reading "Hick: Don’t take away our guns." It doesn't matter that, as you know, no proposed legislation at the capitol seeks to take away the guns of any law-abiding citizen. Between Sen. Greg Brophy's nonsensical fit over "shotgun bans" and the insistent false claim that background checks will prohibit private transfers of guns, the key thing to understand is that these "grassroots" crowds turning out at town halls and hearings are in large part agitated by false information.
But that really doesn't matter right now. There is a sense at the capitol that the massive pressure from the gun lobby, the almost-daily attacks by national right wing bloggers and news outlets, the crowds crashing town halls regardless of their topic, is getting to some Democrats. We don't think as of now that the gun safety bills already passed by the House are in danger of failing the Senate, but the huge expenditure of political capital on this issue by Democrats, and the barrage of attacks on politicians who are in many cases either inexperienced or just plain unprepared for this level of contention (you know who you are), is taking its toll.
What we don't see in this battle, despite all the angry rhetoric, is a salient electoral issue for Republicans in 2014. Naturally, there will be some superficial benefit in riling up the Republican base, but the fact remains that public support for the actual gun safety bills being debated at the Capitol is very high. There's just not enough opposition to these moderate gun safety bills, once soberly examined, to turn the issue into an election winner in 2014. And in the form of GOP "no" votes yesterday on bills like Senate Bill 13-197, which would prohibit guns to those convicted of domestic violence, there's plenty for Democrats to work with electorally here themselves.
The best thing Democrats can do at this point is insulate their members who can't handle the pressure, and get as many of these bills passed as quickly as possible. The longer it drags on, giving less articulate Democrats more chances to gaffe and opportunities for the extremely vocal minority opposing them to attack, the worse it will go.