(For obvious reasons regarding the narrative voice, this post is being published under the name of Jason Bane instead of Colorado Pols.)
It was at about 2:00 pm on Thursday afternoon when the Republican micro-minority in the State House launched a doomed “filibluster” attempt to delay voting on HB23-1219, a bill that seeks to implement a three-day waiting period for gun purchases. Over the course of more than 12 hours, Republicans babbled about the Second Amendment; read aloud the writings of Dave Kopel and rehashed the Conquistador point of view from Justin Diamond’s classic book “Guns, Germs, and Steel.”
At roughly 10:30 pm on Thursday night – more than eight hours since their filibuster began – House Republicans rejected a deal to bring their bickering to an end.
House Republicans accepted that same deal four hours later, finally concluding their pointless stand at 2:30 am on Friday morning. House Bill 23-1219 passed on second reading and moved forward.
THIS Is Your Great Injustice?
House Republicans drew this invisible line in the sand primarily because the no-compromise gun group Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) and its Executive Director, Taylor Rhodes, demanded a “circus.” And as we’ve already seen before in this legislative session, when RMGO tells Republicans to dance…they f***ing dance.
There was no circus on Thursday and Friday. House Republicans could only manage a small, broken-down carnival atmosphere instead:
♦ Representative Ken “Skin” DeGraaf regularly mentioned data he found from a publication of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), but instead of using the full name for maximum time-wasting efficiency, DeGraaf used a shorthand that he kept pronouncing as “pee-nahs.”
♦ Rep. Richard Holtorf told lawmakers that he cared more about human life than any of them and would also die for any person in the chamber because…???
♦ Republicans took turns trying to one-up another with melodramatic stories about a woman who might have been assaulted if not for her gun…or the time so-and-so heard a weird noise downstairs that they didn’t check because it was probably nothing and it turned out to be nothing but hoo boy it was a good thing I had my Barrett .50 cal rifle under the bed.
As gun safety bills go, HB23-1219 is fairly benign. Implementing a three-day waiting period for gun purchases is a common sense idea borne of lived experiences. It allows for a “cooling off period,” as State Sen. Tom Sullivan so deftly explained a few weeks ago. Marianne Goodland of the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman reported on these real-world examples from a hearing earlier in the week:
Several witnesses recounted the heartbreak they suffered from the death of a loved one, some from suicide, some from homicide, all from guns.
Kaycie Artus said her daughter, Lindsay, died an hour after buying a gun. She was a language arts teacher in Douglas County who won teaching awards but also battled with depression and anxiety. Lindsay’s children would still have their mom if there had been a waiting period, added her friend, Jenny Gunther.
Kathy Hagan of Erie talked about the death of a friend’s father, who also struggled with mental health issues. He stopped taking his medication and bought a gun. Confronted by his daughter, he locked himself in the bathroom and shot himself.
“It was a cry for help,” Hagan said. A waiting period could have saved his life, she said.
Dr. Maya Haasz, a pediatrician representing the Colorado Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, pleaded with lawmakers to support the bill: “Young people who attempt suicide by firearm do not have the chance to change their minds.” She also pointed out that nine out of 10 children who use a firearm in their suicide attempt will die even though guns are used in only one of 20 suicide attempts.
Okay, fine, said Republicans. We see your real world examples and raise you some entirely theoretical concerns! What if a raccoon needs minigun right away so that it doesn’t get gobbled up by hungry coyotes? What if I get into an argument with a neighbor about the length of their grass lawn and I can’t run to the gun store to pick up something threatening?
The GOP argument against this legislation is that people should have the right to get a gun RIGHTNOWTHISMINUTE because you never know when the Chupacabra might come through your window and the Chupacabra does NOT respect three-day waiting periods.
But if you really think you need the ability to buy a gun RIGHTNOWTHISMINUTE, then there are two other more pressing concerns that need to be addressed instead:
- When people go out and demand a gun RIGHTNOWTHISMINUTE, they have a tendency to use that gun RIGHTNOWTHISMINUTE. And that’s not good for them or the people they love.
- If you find yourself in a situation in which you think you need a new gun RIGHTNOWTHISMINUTE, then you are almost certainly in a scenario that requires some very different help. For example, maybe you should be calling the police instead of running around trying to buy a new firearm.
Don’t have time for the entire #coleg debate over a waiting period to buy a gun? Homer does it in 13 secs. pic.twitter.com/9AQ9KZntSq
— Erik Maulbetsch (@emaulbetsch) March 9, 2023
A true filibuster has to have some sort of achievable goal based on opposition to a great injustice, whether that be delaying a vote or preventing one altogether on a controversial piece of legislation. Democrats hold an historically-large majority in the House (46-19), which means Republicans would have needed to flip at least a dozen Democrats in order to achieve a meaningful outcome.
This was never going to happen, and Republicans knew it. But their filibluster wasn’t about achieving anything. It was just simple angertainment from a caucus that thinks Colorado voters get excited about this sort of thing (spoiler alert: they don’t).
A true filibuster requires a cause that is just and noble. This is not that cause. Polling continually shows that Coloradans (and Americans, frankly) overwhelmingly support common sense gun safety legislation.
This bill is so nonthreatening to gun lovers that there weren’t many Republicans who showed up at the Capitol to lend their moral support. If even the gun nuts aren’t excited, then you have to ask for whom this angertainment performance is intended for in the first place.