Ground Zero for Gun Control - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Ground Zero for Gun Control

Colorado, the site of the Columbine and Aurora mass shootings, is now ground zero in the national debate over “gun control.” Last Friday, the State House of Representatives — controlled by Democrats after yet another dismal election showing by the GOP here — passed four bills restricting gun rights. They will soon go to the State Senate, where passage is likely given the Democrat majority in that chamber, and then on to Governor John “Really, I’m a Moderate” Hickenlooper (above), who has already said he will sign at least three of them.

Colorado Democrats have avoided the “assault weapon” debate and are focusing on ways more likely to fool average citizens into feeling good about “doing something.” Unfortunately, what they are doing will harm both liberty and safety for most Coloradoans.

The debate in the Centennial State is garnering national attention, with Vice President Joe Biden calling four perceived Democratic moderates (three freshmen and the Speaker of the House) to encourage them to vote for the measures. One Democrat who received a call said that “[Biden] just said he’s watching us and asked if we had a chance to move these bills forward and said what an important signal it would send to the country if we do.” I imagine that the “watching” part sounded very much like a threat, given the schoolyard bully nature of this administration. After all, this is a president who said to a Democratic member of Congress “Don’t think we’re not keeping score, brother.”

The four measures, which passed out of committee on party-line votes and then passed the House with unanimous Republicans (and a few, but not enough, courageous Democrats) in opposition, include:

HB (House Bill) 1224: Bans magazines that can hold more than 15 rounds of ammunition (other than .22 caliber rimfire ammo) or more than eight shotgun shells. (The Democrats originally proposed a measure where these numbers were 10 and five, respectively.) The bill would grandfather in any “large-capacity” magazines with their current owners, but would not allow those magazines to then be sold. The bill also requires that any large-capacity magazine made in Colorado must have a serial number and manufacture date “legibly and conspicuously engraved or cast upon the outer surface.”

Erie, Colorado-based Magpul Industries, which makes high-capacity magazines, says that if the bill becomes law, it will move its operations along with 200 jobs out of Colorado. Magpul’s key suppliers have said they will leave with Magpul, taking perhaps another 200 jobs and an estimated $85 million of 2013 sales to another state. Democrats have amended the original bill in order to try to make sure that Magpul would not be violating Colorado law to manufacture the magazines here, but Duane Liptak, the director of marketing for Magpul, told the Denver Post that the company would not stay in a state where the purchase of their products is illegal.

The gun shop and shooting range where I am getting my concealed carry permit training says they cannot keep many types of magazines in stock. Not just those for the “assault rifles” so demonized by the left, but even standard 17-20 round magazines for the most common semi-automatic pistols. It’s no wonder that gun shops can’t keep magazines or ammunition in stock, or that the publicly traded shares firearms companies are at or near all-time highs. Prohibition is good for business, as Al Capone well knew.

HB 1226: Bans the concealed carry of firearms (by legal owners of guns who also have valid concealed carry permits) in buildings on college campuses, in college stadiums and arenas, or at outdoor college events where the school administrator decides to ban guns.

Democrats, such as my State Representative Claire Levy — whose Nanny State inclinations make New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg look downright permissive — say that “There are a lot of students who simply are not ready to be in the presence of firearms.” She seems to miss the points that (1) those students are not going to get their concealed carry permits, and (2) the word “concealed” means those students should not know they are “in the presence of firearms.”

One wonders when Democrats will notice how many mass shootings occur at gun-free zones, whether elementary schools (Newtown, CT), high schools (Columbine), colleges (Virginia Tech), or movie theaters (Aurora, CO). Just because a mass-shooter is insane does not mean he is stupid. One must assume that anyone, crazy or otherwise, who wants to inflict great harm will consider going to the least-defended targets. Republicans in the state legislature argue that “making college campuses into gun free zones only increases the probability that one of our college kids will become a victim.”

Showing how out-of-touch Democrats are when it comes to life and death issues, Democrat State Rep. Joe Salazar made the truly remarkable statement that rather than being able to carry a gun on campus, female college students should take comfort in the presence of call boxes, safe zones, and whistles. He went on to suggest that women, not knowing whether they’re actually being raped, or about to be raped, or not, might “pop a round at somebody.” First of all, has anyone ever heard a story of a mistaken shooting by a women who thought erroneously that she was being attacked? And secondly, where is the media who destroyed Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock for their ignorant statements?

Salazar later apologized, but an apology for implying that women are too emotional, and might not be able to tell if they’re really in trouble or really being raped, to be allowed to carry guns on campus would never have been accepted by the partisan hacks who populate most of today’s major media newsrooms.

Who’s leading the “war on women” now?

My friends at Colorado Peak Politics are following how social media, especially Twitter, are justifiably savaging Salazar, with even some liberals taking notice. CPP pointed out that as of Sunday, “The #1 trending hashtag on Twitter is #LiberalTips2AvoidRape. Joe Salazar — consider this a career-ender.” Somehow, the ever-tolerant-of-Democrats-no-matter-how-ignorant Fourth Estate still finds a way to suggest that this is all just more of right-wing insensitivity to rape victims. If Alice in Wonderland wrote political commentary, you’d see it posing as serious at Mother Jones.

Meanwhile the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs has put out a list of public safety tips for women, which include “Tell your attacker that you have a disease or are menstruating” and “Vomiting or urinating may also convince the attacker to leave you alone.” They may in fact be correct (not that many people can vomit at will), but it remains unclear how the threat of urea, bile, or blood compares to the threat of a 9 mm hollow-point.

HB 1228: Requires that the Colorado Bureau of Investigation charge, and guy buyers pay, a fee for the “instant background check” required to buy guns from licensed dealers. Unfortunately, the Bureau will determine the fee itself by including “direct and indirect costs” and there is no limitation in the bill on how many employees the Bureau can hire to process background checks. Instead the Bureau simply will justify the fee by telling the legislature how many employees it has for these purposes.

It is vanishingly rare to find a situation in which government mandates a fee on a citizen who is trying to exercise a constitutional right. Poll taxes are unconstitutional, and the government doesn’t require a direct fee in order to be able to exercise speech, religion, or press rights as those fees would likely be immediately struck down by courts.

Although, other than the serious issue of impeding the exercise of a fundamental right, having someone pay a fee for a service that person uses sounds reasonable, this bill fits into what many Colorado Republicans believe is a strategy to de facto cripple gun rights by making the transfer of guns difficult and unaffordable.

And that is where the worst of the Colorado Democrats’ bills comes into play:

HB 1229: Criminalizes many private transfers (to include borrowing and lending) of guns without a background check. Unless specifically exempted by the law, this would require a private person selling or giving or loaning a gun to another private person to have a background check performed on the recipient.

That background check would have to go through a licensed firearms dealer, who would charge a fee in addition to the fee charged by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. The legislation limits the fee charged by the dealer to $10, which simply means that few dealers will agree to provide the service — which is of course the Democrats’ true goal.

Exceptions include:

  • Antique firearms
  • Gifts between spouses, parents, children, siblings, grandparents, and grandchildren
  • Inheritance
  • A “temporary transfer,” i.e. borrowing a gun, only if the “transfer” happens in the borrower’s house when the borrower “believes that possession of the firearm is necessary to prevent imminent death or serious bodily injury” to the borrower (More on this in a moment.)
  • A “temporary transfer” which occurs at a shooting range or other place “occupied by a duly incorporated organization…to foster proficiency in firearms,” or at a target shooting competition, or while hunting, fishing, target shooting or trapping
  • In order to facilitate the repair or maintenance of the gun

Violating this law could mean 18 months in jail and losing for two years the right to possess a gun in Colorado.

The so-called exception to prevent death or serious injury is deceitful and meaningless. After all, if someone is going to use another person’s gun to protect himself, it is most likely that that someone is not in his own home, but in the gun owner’s home, to which this exception would not apply. Secondly, even in the unusual situation that a person was at risk of death or injury from, for example, a home invasion, and had access to another person’s gun at the time (e.g. a woman who carries concealed is visiting her boyfriend, and her boyfriend grabs her gun when he hears someone breaking in), the text of this law means that he’s only able to use the weapon if he believes he is at risk, but not if his fear is that the person whose gun he is using is at risk. In other words, a guy can borrow his girlfriend’s gun at his house — but not her house — if he wants to protect himself but not if his real fear is her safety. In that case, she’s on her own.

The original bill did not allow an exception for transfers while target shooting, and the Democrats have realized what a huge problem that was. (Its absence is just the latest proof of the complete lack of understanding by most Democrats of how ordinary Americans use guns.) But even this section of exceptions is less than meets the eye because it requires that the loan of the gun happen while target shooting or while hunting. This means that if I have a gun you would like to try (especially since most people don’t have a shooting area at home), I can’t lend you the gun without either getting a background check done on you or going with you to use the gun, neither of which is likely to be convenient. And nobody will spend the time or money to get a background check done on a friend or nephew.

As State Senator Greg Brophy (R-Wray), a stalwart champion of gun rights, points out, “It is already illegal to sell a gun to someone you know or reasonably think can’t possess a firearm, so the ban on private sales does nothing to improve safety; it just makes it illegal to loan or give a gun to a friend, even one you have known your whole life.”

Also, particularly in rural America (bitterly clinging to their guns and religion, dontcha know), guns are often loaned or given as gifts between family members such as nephews and uncles, or in-laws and sons-in-law, none of which is covered by the family exemption.

Senator Brophy: “Not one of these bills does anything to make the average Coloradan safer — some make us less safe. Even Democrat Senate President John Morse acknowledged that the bills wouldn’t make us safer.”

The bills must pass the State Senate to reach the governor. At this time, passage seems likely as three Democrats would have to vote with all the Republicans to block the measures, and Governor Hickenlooper is on record supporting three of the measures, and likely to support banning guns on college campuses.

It’s not just Joe Biden pressuring Colorado Democrats. Local and national media are also trying to grease the skids for the Obama administration and local Democrats’ goal of restricting access to and use of guns to the greatest possible degree.

Denver Post reporter Jeremy Meyer, taking a page from the New York Times by writing an editorial thinly disguised as news, suggests that “Colorado wouldn’t be much more strict with new gun laws.” Given the tendency of many people visiting news websites to just read headlines (for example, if someone wants some sports news but glances at political headlines), this particular headline is particularly misleading.

Meyer notes helpfully that Colorado would not be as strict as California, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, as if those states represent a goal which all right-minded people should strive for. He then points out — which you would never gather from the headline — that Colorado “would, however, be stricter than other states in the Mountain West.”

Meyer quotes an organization that “gave Colorado a D- grade for its current laws.” Actually, Colorado received a D, not a D-, but then what’s a little thing like truth when you’re trying to save the world, right Jeremy? Care to take a guess where Colorado ranked among the 50 states to get that “D” grade? 45th? 40th? Nope… not even in the bottom half. Colorado ranked 22nd out of 50 states and would apparently only be raised to a C- grade with all the new gun restrictions. Again, why write news in a newspaper when parroting anti-gun propaganda is so much easier (and makes the editors so happy)?

The usually politically even-handed Denver Post reporter Lynn Bartels compared Republican opposition to gun restrictions to Republicans opposing the creation of a Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Aaaah yes, gotta throw the race card when logic isn’t in your favor, especially when the only thing even vaguely bipartisan about the votes is the opposition.

The New York Times, in discussing the raft of gun restrictions, says that Colorado is “a state with deep conservative and independent streaks.” Their effort is to make people believe that if gun restrictions make sense in Colorado, they have to make sense almost everywhere. But this is a state that has Democrats in complete control of state government and that has gone for Barack Obama in the last two elections. The conservative and independent streaks are becoming less deep with each passing month, especially as Californians and New Yorkers pollute this once freedom-loving state. Much like a mindless parasite that kills its host, they abandon the destructive impacts of their states’ liberal policies — then come here and vote for liberals.

In the meantime, a small school district in western Colorado has voted to allow a high school principal and district superintendent to carry guns on school property following their taking proper training. (The district’s offices are located at the high school.) They will each receive an extra $1 in annual salary. At least there remains an independent streak somewhere in this now bluish-purple state.

It is a dark time for liberty in Colorado, and the forces of “gun control,” which is to say those who believe that government should control all the guns, are casting their malign shadows on this once liberty-loving and self-reliant state. They hope to use what happens in Colorado as a lever with which to unleash a torrent of anti-gun legislation across the nation that is currently being held back by an ever less secure boulder (but not Boulder!) of freedom, common sense, and respect for the Constitution.

When Joe Biden and the New York Times are trying to influence Colorado politics, you know that the left considers — and probably with good reason — the current battle to be a pivotal point in their war against the Second Amendment. Pro-gun rights Coloradoans are putting up a good fight, but when it comes to the state government, we are badly outgunned.

Photo: UPI

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