Governor John Hickenlooper (D) has announced that on Wednesday, he will sign the gun control bills passed by the Colorado legislature last week. These include the magazine ban and the background checks, even for temporary transfers between individuals who know each other. A number of women legislators today protested the disparate impact that this law will have on women’s self-defense.
But it wasn’t always thus. This was Hick in the immediate aftermath of the Aurora shootings here in Colorado:
Crowley: When you look at what transpired here – a man with no criminal background, not even any contact with police, a speeding ticket, I think was the only thing found there – when you look, and if you are not familiar with the interior West or the Midwest, obviously lots of rural places here on the East Coast, and don’t totally understand the gun culture, when you look at what this young man was able to acquire over three or four months: an assault weapon, a shotgun, a 9mm Glock, another 9mm, all of these tear gas things, and 6000 rounds of ammo from the internet, people stand back and look at that and say, “Shouldn’t some bell have gone off somewhere,” and you’re looking and saying, “Somebody’s collecting an arsenal.” And yet there was no way to connect all those things. Should there be?
Hickenlooper: Well, I mean I’m not sure there’s any way in a free society, to be able to do that kind of – he was buying things in different places. Certainly, you can try, and I’m sure we will try, to create some checks and balances on these things. But this is a case of evil, of somebody who was an aberration of nature, and, you know, if it wasn’t one weapon, it would have been another. He was diabolical. If you look at what he had in his apartment and what his intentions were. I mean, even now, it makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. It’s terrifying, just the thought that he could spend so much time planning such evil.
Crowley: And do you see any law anywhere that might have stopped a man with no record, in a society that protects the 2nd Amendment, that might have prevented this?
Hickenlooper: Well, we are certainly looking and that, and trying to say, “How do you prevent this?” I mean, the Virginia Tech shootings, we’ve been looking at the shootings all across the country, and say, “How do we preserve our freedoms, right, and all those things that define this country, and yet try to prevent this from happening again?” Let me tell you, there’s no easy answer.
Crowley: What I hear from you is that you would be open to someone who wanted to suggest a gun law, or something that might prevent this sort of thing, but that at the moment, you can’t imagine what that would be.
Hickenlooper: Yeah, it’s just – I’m happy to look at anything, but again, it’s – this person, if there were no assault weapons available, if there were no this or no that, this guy’s gonna find something right? He’s gonna know how to create a bomb. I mean, who knows where his mind would have gone, clearly a very intelligent individual, however twisted. You know, I don’t know – that’s the problem, I mean this is really – this is a human issue in some profound way that this level of disturbed individual that we can’t recognize it, that the people around him obviously had no idea that this was something that he was capable of.
As I mentioned in December, when he suddenly changed his tune, these were not the words of a man who wanted to sound as though he were looking to impose new controls. Virtually all of the objections he raises to Crowley’s implications about new gun laws are the very same objections raised by Republicans and a few Democrats during the legislative debates.
The opening for pursuing this agenda now clearly comes from the Aurora and Newtown shootings, in short, the very events that Hickenlooper says earlier in the interview shouldn’t be determining our way of life. In the Denver Post at the time, he said that he “wanted to have at least a couple of months off after the shooting in Aurora to let people process and grieve and get a little space.”
The net result, in fact, was that gun control was barely discussed at the state level during the election, and here in Colorado was treated almost exclusively as a federal issue, as Reps. Perlmutter and DeGette staked out strong positions in favor of reviving the so-called Assault Weapons Ban and even stricter measures. This suited Hick just fine, since any suggestion that he was seriously looking at the sort of laws passed last week might have complicated the Dems’ narrative about te Republican “War on Women” and civil unions.
With the election behind him, and with some pressure from Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns (of which Hickenlooper was Colorado’s sole member in 2010), and a little arm-twisting from Vice President Joe Biden, Hick feels free to go ahead an implement changes he had rhetorically taken off the table only months before.
Copied from the following post: It’s a National Political Strategy
On Friday’s Grassroots Radio, the discussion of Rep. Mike McLachlan’s (D-Durango) deceptive advertising of his own gun control positions turned to the national agenda being rammed down Colorado’s throat. I pointed out that while other states with Democrat majorities and governors – Illinois and Washington came to mind – had rejected similar proposals, Colorado had seemingly been singled out for lobbying by Mayor Bloomberg and Vice President Biden. Bloomberg has been open about his desire to influence other states’ policies, but traditionally, federal officeholders don’t meddle in state politics. Even Diana DeGette and Ed Perlmutter confined their post-Aurora comments to proposed federal legislation, not what Colorado ought or ought not do.
So something was up. Tomorrow’s New York Times tells us what: “If you can do it here, you can do it anywhere.” This was the article that Hick was waiting for, before announcing his intent to sign these bills on Wednesday.
It has been clear from the beginning that Obama plans to use gun control, not merely as a diversion from governing, but as a battering-ram issue to achieve his major 2nd-term objective: regaining the House of Representatives for the Democrats. To do that, he believes he must isolate the Republican House as being an obstruction to common-sense, practical gun control measures that most of the country agrees on. To do that, he must persuade enough Senate Democrats – especially Western Democrats – to back proposals that they really, really don’t want to even vote on, much less support.
Colorado becomes the key to providing them cover. The proposals – poorly-written, full of absurd outcomes – will have to be portrayed as practical compromises. The debate on the national level will mirror the deceptive line taken here: confusing sales with temporary transfers, or even loans to friends; outlawing magazines of more than 15 rounds, but forgetting to mention that inheriting such a magazine from a deceased parent is a criminal act, a felony, even. Colorado’s reputation as a western, freedom-loving state works in their favor.
This was a repeat of the entire Obamacare political drama, here at the state level. The Democrats in favor barely felt the need to argue for them on the floor, largely because when they did, they embarrassed themselves with references to pens as defensive weapons, whistles as substitutes for protection, and condescending to rape victims. State senators either abandoned, fled, or chastised their own town halls when the issue came up. Democratic leadership openly asked its members to ignore the public. The controversial bills passed without a single Republican vote, but over bipartisan opposition.
But the “If you can do it here, you can do it anywhere,” line of publicity conceals what really happened.
Ultimately, it makes the recalls of Sen. Hudak and Rep. McLachlan – along with whatever other vulnerable Dems can be included – even more important. Those recalls, like the recalls in Wisconsin, take on a national significance and urgency, not merely because of the issues involved, but because of the political implications at the national level. The promise of protection, of resources and money, to vulnerable Dems who backed him on this legislation, is the application of national resources to state races, just as the Blueprint was the application of state resources to local races. It is the Blueprint raised to a national scale. If Obama is able to implement that, then he will indeed have locked in substantial political changes that can change the society for the worse, for the long run.
On the other hand, if those promises can be shown to be empty – before the House of Representatives comes up for election, or has to vote on the national bills – then the entire narrative is turned on its head. Not only does Obama look like an unreliable friend, but the power of the issue dissipates. (That’s one reason why an initiative is more useful in the event that we fail to take back both the legislature and the governor’s mansion: only fiscal issues can be on the ballot in odd-numbered years.)
Hickenlooper, in 2012, specifically avoided charging voters up over this issue. Even in 2010, he didn’t really mention it at all. Colorado has not had a vigorous debate on these bills or these issues. This was not something done by us. It was something done to us.
It’s our move, Colorado.