Two of the most contentious national political issues passed in the night in the last 24 hours in Aurora, Colorado. First, Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke held a town hall event yesterday evening just a short distance from the movie theater where a mass shooting in 2012 helped change the debate over gun control in Colorado.
The politics of gun control in Colorado have evolved from the intense pro-gun pushback against the 2013 Colorado gun safety laws to the present, where Colorado serves as a model for nationwide legislation being considered in response to mass shootings that have continued and worsened across the nation since the Aurora theater shooting.
As the Denver Post’s Jon Murray reports, Beto made his point and a smattering of open-carrying gun activists made theirs:
Beto O’Rourke repeated his recent call to round up high-powered assault-style weapons and pushed for stronger gun-control measures Thursday during an outdoor town hall in this Denver suburb, but rarely has his attention to the issue resonated so deeply in a crowd…
“I am here to say: Hell, no, you’re not,” Lauren Boebert said to scattered jeers.
She’d driven three hours from Rifle on the Western Slope to deliver that message. She owns a restaurant called Shooters Grill, where the wait staff packs heat, and her Glock handgun was holstered at her side Thursday. Boebert, 32, pressed O’Rourke to explain “how you intend to legislate the hearts of men and leave American citizens like myself” defenseless.
We’re relieved to report that although a number of people did show up carrying weapons there was no significant confrontation and no violence at O’Rourke’s town hall. Although no one expects O’Rourke to move into the top tier of Democratic candidates, he’s getting a lot of credit from frustrated gun control advocates for taking a bold stand that could help break the gun lobby’s logjam in Washington. O’Rourke also deftly handled disingenuous questions from Evan Todd of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners about banning all semiautomatic weapons, which is beyond the scope of O’Rourke’s proposal.
The backdrop of Aurora, with its history of tragedy as a model of hope for meaningful progress nationwide on the issue after Colorado took action in 2013, served O’Rourke and his message very well. But then the second act of Aurora’s busy night got underway–and things went, as they say, sideways from there. Colorado Public Radio: