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December 20, 2013 01:38 PM UTC

Hickenlooper Hints at Potentially Terrible Idea on Gun Safety Legislation

  • by: Colorado Pols

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper held an end-of-year press briefing at the State Capitol yesterday. He told reporters that he was aiming for a modest, quiet legislative agenda (more on that in a moment), but more importantly, he hinted at a potential strategy around gun safety legisation that would be absolutely disastrous for both he and his fellow Democrats. From the Associated Press:

Hickenlooper said he doesn’t want to see any gun-control laws repealed, including new expanded background checks and a 15-round ammunition magazine limit. But he told reporters he’d consider tweaks to some of the new gun laws, without specifying what changes he’d agree to. [Pols emphasis]

“If there’s a way to improve them some way, if you have some way that they work better or do a better job at what was their intention, then I think we should sit down and have that discussion,” Hickenlooper said.

Your hole is big enough
Stop digging, Governor.

This may just be one of those classic "off-the-cuff" statements by Gov. Hickenlooper that make his staffers cringe but don't otherwise end up having any basis in truth behind them. But if Hickenlooper is so much as entertaining the idea of "tweaking" gun laws approved last spring, it would likely end up being the Governor's most bone-headed decision in his political career. You can argue whether or not you think the gun legislation passed by Democrats was a good idea, but there is absolutely no reason for Hickenlooper to support changing any of the new laws after only a few months.

"Tweaking" any of the legislation would immediately be spun as a victory by Republicans and groups like Dudley Brown's Rocky Mountain Gun Owners. Hickenlooper can use whatever word he wants to describe such a change, but to everyone watching it would appear as nothing less than a capitulation on an issue that Democrats fought long and hard to achieve. And to what end? Would right-wing voters who opposed the gun safety legislation decide to support Hickenlooper all of a sudden? Of course not!

Such a decision would just make Hickenlooper look weak — and "leadership" is really his biggest message problem — while helping Brown and friends raise money and attract more supporters. But perhaps most importantly, it would ignore the fact that Coloradans are actually supportive of gun safety measures; Democrats just lost the messaging battle this year. If you don't remember that Quinnipiac Poll from last August, here's a snippet from our post at the time:

The poll results also show that voters say they generally oppose Colorado's new "stricter gun control laws," though from the breakout of opinions on various gun safety measures, voters may not entirely understand them:

Colorado voters support 82 – 16 percent requiring background checks for all gun buyers. Support is strong among all groups.

Voters are divided 49 – 48 percent on a ban on the sale of high-capacity ammunition magazines that hold more than 15 rounds.

The takeaway here is that voters don't like the phrase "stricter gun control laws," but actually seem to support gun safety measures when asked separately.

What Hickenlooper and his fellow Democrats really need to do is find a better way to talk about gun safety legislation — but any sort of "tweak" should be off the table in 2014. Hickenlooper said repeatedly during yesterday's press briefing that he anticipated a "quiet" legislative session, meaning that his office has no plans to do anything significant that will interest the average voter heading into next November. If that projection indeed holds true, then anything like "tweaking" gun legislation will receive more attention than usual given a lack of other interesting stories for reporters to cover. It's a perfect storm of a bad idea.

We've seen already that Hick is likely to base his re-election efforts around the theme of an improving economy, and if he doesn't plan on doing anything of note in the upcoming legislative session, then he's better off sticking with that message 100%. Showing strong leadership is Hick's most pressing problem, and you don't lead by going backwards.


43 thoughts on “Hickenlooper Hints at Potentially Terrible Idea on Gun Safety Legislation

    1. I see it differently: rural votes are not gonna help him either way, but he could gain votes in areas like Douglas County and Colorado Springs, at least in theory.

  1. Perhaps I'm too naive, but I think Hickenlooper is being honest.  He will entertain any changes that IMPROVE the bills. But he was clear that repeal is NOT in the picture.  If there is a way to strengthen the laws, then go for it. If it is a direct or backdoor way to weaken them, then hopefully the proposals will be nixed before reaching the Governor.  I don't see any upside in the Governor's abruptly doing an about face on this issue, and I know he is politically astute enough to understand that.

  2. I had a chance to sit in on a very engaging and, seemingly, candid conversation with outgoing Mesa County Sheriff, Stan Hilkey. I was impressed with his friendly and straightforward manner. As a result of that discussion, I must firmly state…I don't think Hick needs to back off on this legislation "AT ALL". I really don't think the Sheriffs' Association (or whatever is their name…) are going to stay committed to the lawsuit they have joined. Since there have been no gun seizures, as promised by the NRAs' hounds (and as verified by Sheriff Hilkey this morning) and time is passing, I sense a number of sheriffs are losing their zeal.

    I don't think they will continue to argue about background checks, frankly. Sheriff Hilkey seemed to offer something less than half-hearted support for continuing to oppose them, choosing instead to oppose the mag ban on the grounds that if the laws had been in place at those times, catastophe would not have been averted. A specious argument, at best. The sheriff fails to understand that it will be the declining availability of such weapons that will eventually bend the curve of senseless slaughter, it won't happen overnight.. 

    When asked to explain why he needed a thirty round clip, he had no more luck than did Negev when I asked him, a while back. It is just because he wants 'em, and the second Amendment says he can have 'em…that's about it. I don't think that will win over the courts.

    Sheriff Hilkey seems a very nice man who is growing tired of dealing with the politics of being the sheriff. I wish him well.


    1. Oh..and Hicks' wish for a "modest, quiet, legislative agenda"  come January is a vain hope, I predict. This session could be very hard on Hick as it will put a vice on him. It will be interesting to see if he can to continue to shill for O&G and manage to escape the wrath of the cities and the environmental community. I don't think he can straddle that fence. He will need to do something more than toss a bone or two …to the RMGO or anyone else…

    2. Oh yeah – that was the conversation we had where you said you would take up arms against the government if they prohibited you from wearing a yellow shirt….I don't recall the reason why you needed a yellow shirt…

      1. You are clueless, Negev. The yellow shirt refers to Egypt, where the wearing of a yellow shirt or the holding up of four fingers as a salute can get you arrested and imprisoned…

        But never mind. I don't have time to explain the world to you…

        1. I got the reference, Duke, but thanks. They must really need to wear yellow shirts. Good thing they had the right to bear arms against that tyrannical government.. oh wait….

          1. Negev, the Egyptian military (their equivalent of a " militia" , but definitely not a "well-regulated" militia) helped the protesters oust Mubarak in 2011.  Then the military installed its own people.

            Now the pro-democracy movement is struggling against a military dictatorship. I suppose you would say that what the people really needed was to take up arms, in spite of the Egyptian determination to keep their movement nonviolent, which probably saved hundreds of thousands of lives.

            For someone who has named himself after an Israeli gun, you don't seem to know a whole lot about the complex situation in the Middle East.

                    1. We missed it during a near-holiday weekend. We've deleted all offending posts, and the ban hammer has fallen on Hawkeye-X. Outing other commenters, even a speculative and incorrect attempt at outing, is a zero-tolerance bannable offense we enforce above all others.

                    2. I don't think they really needed any prodding.  I was just surprised because the reaction is usually so swift.  Easy to see how it got ignored for a while on the weekend before Xmas and with so much sad news.

                    3. Great. So it wasn't even correct.  What a jerk. I figured your slowness to react was an unintentional weekend oversight.

            1. If Negev the Mighty Paper Target Slayer had a deeper understanding of such things, he probably wouldn't spend so much time fantasizing about "bearing arms against a tyrannical government"….

    3. With gun owners gravitating towards ammunition designed for less penetration of walls, you're essentially fighting with under-powered ammo that will have less ballistic effect on human tissue.  If you're relying on the pain of a GSW to stop an assailant, your "safer" bullets will not be as effective as standard issue hollowpoints or FMJ and you will need more of your "safer" bullets to have the same ballistic impact as other types of bullets.

    4. "30+ round magazines are needed as they can give the user of a semi-automatic weapon more chances to hit the CNS (brain, spinal cord) to stop an assailant on the spot, rather than waste precious seconds hoping for massive blood loss to finally take its effect on the body while the assailant continues their murderous assault."

      Okay, so I needed to clarify that it takes more time to change out a magazine than it is to squeeze off a couple more rounds that could be the one that hits the spinal cord.  Limiting magazine size forces you to reload more often – and you're often taught to get behind cover to reload.  That's even more time wasted for an assailant to change positions to try and get the drop on you if you miss or did not hit the CNS. 

      Not to mention that sometimes criminals and home invaders will work in multiples!?!?!?


      "Oh, but if you force the mass murderer to reload more often there will be more chances to tackle him/her."

      To be blunt – the gunman is only facing in one direction whenever they are aiming.  You could have tackled him even when they're not looking in your direction.  Magazine change or not, doesn't make a difference.

      "So then why do you even need a gun to stop an active shooter?"

      If you're the only one tackling the gunman be prepared if they are able to fight you off and get you off of them – once they've fought you off, unfortunately, you're in a perfect position to be executed by them at near point blank range.  A handgun (and some short barreled rifles) can be fired at especially close ranges (see "fire from retention") to deliver maximum ballistic force to significantly reduce their physiological reserve to fight back moreso than fists or an edged weapon will..  Although an edged weapon will do just as well, if you don't lose control of it.

      And in that case, why do you even call cops if you think "one does not need guns to stop a spree killer?"  You know they have guns, correct?  Would you want a plainclothes/off duty officer sitting in the crowd when that terrible day occurs?

    1. Changing it to 17 might be, depending on your view, but only because one of the most popular weapons out there is shipped by default with a 17 round magazine. (They make a much smaller magazine for states such as ours that have imposed limits…)

      1. I think Pols point, and it's a good one, is that revisiting these bills for changes is simply opening old wounds, picking a scabs (or choose your own favorite cliche/metaphor).

        Hick was trying to be his best restaurant manager friendly/accomodating self for the most unreasonable requests from customers.

        1. Agree. Of course it's the legislature that would have to do the revisiting and, as we saw in the recalls, the Dems would rather not talk about it at all, not even to clarify what's in it and what isn't when they're being recalled over it.

          1. And any red meat GOP bills will go directly to the kill committees.  I'm sure there will be several, since they have to come up with 5 bills to fill their vacuum of ideas.

    2. How about 5 the size of the magazine in the bolt action rifles with which the German, Russians,and British assaulted everything they felt needed assaulted in two world wars or maybe 8 the size of the en bloc magazine in the semiauto M-1 Garand?Anything that reduces the amount of firepower available to an individual is an improvement.

  3. Our good Govn'r Hick is smelling more and more like a blue dog…His stance on fracking, and his ties to big oil are very concerning…some, in the North Fork, feel he has been feeding the dogs, instead of leashing them…I don't think Govn'r Hick is all he says he is…or at least my impression of him is fading towards a less favorable view…NO I will NEVER vote R… ever, period…but my neighbors vote their pocket books…and well, they belive that this layoff is PBO's fault…and Hick is a Democrat…so on and so forth…

    1. Hick was never a partisan Dem. He probably would have been a Republican back in the days when the GOP was majority centrist with some farther right conservatives and some liberals.  

      Since that's a good description of the Democratic party from the 90s to the present and no longer applies to the GOTP which is now composed of hard core conservatives, a few traditional conservatives now laughingly called moderates and wacko extremists to the the right of the overwhelmingly hard core conservative majority, the Dem party is a better fit, by default, for a guy with pretty liberal social views in a system where you have to choose one of the two major parties to get elected. He'd probably just as soon not have to pick a party at all.  

    2. "sounding more and more like a blue dog"

      Hickenlooper was always a blue dog, and could have been a moderate/liberal Republican or a Progressive Conservative back when they existed. Now that the right-wing worldwide is going to the depths of insanity, Hickenlooper is now a moderate Democrat.

  4. Hick and the Democrats needs to go all-out war on the Republicans, and REALLY restrict gun ownership by charging $5,000 per bullet as Chris Rock suggests. And only one bullet allowed every 60 months. You miss, you're fucked. 

    Then the minimum to purchase a weapon should be $1,000,000. $500 for the gun, $950,000 for the insurance during the lifetime of the gun – in case one kills. And the gun tax will be levied EVERY year at $50,000 per year, no writeoffs allowed.

    That's my dream legislation. I know it won't happen, but Colorado needs to lead the way to removing guns from mentally instable idiots and Republicans.



  5. I'm not sure how Hick can plan a modest legislative agenda that again addresses the gun legislation- opening the door at all will bring the gun rights folks out in droves as they push for repeal.

    If he's signalling an attempt to apply some heavy-handed pressure this session, I can only imagine the pushback from legislators. Collective bargaining, O&G regulation, even death penalty repeal would all be awkward Dem base issues for Hick to follow his instincts and veto.

    1. I think it's actually smart strategy on Hick's part – there will be many efforts on gun legislation repeal this session – various legislators in Rocky Mtn Gun Owner's stable will be backing it. This way, Hick gets to seem pro-active rather than reactive.

      So many groups are fund-raising like crazy based on opposition to any and all gun legislation – it will never just "go away", no matter how slim the chances for actual repeal.

      If Hick were even smarter, he'd try to appease the anti-fracking forces. Oh, wait – they don't have a million-dollar lobbying operation, just millions of Coloradans pissed off at oil and gas overreach.

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