A customer looks at a SIG Sauer hand gun at a gun show held by Florida Gun Shows, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016, in Miami. President Barack Obama announced proposals this week to tighten firearms sales through executive action. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

After recall elections that cost two Democrats their seats in the state legislature in 2013, gun control advocates were reeling.

Rich Carroll pulls a gun off the wall rack Tuesday to show off at his gun shop, Brick House Guns, 1002 31st Ave. in Greeley. President Barack Obama unveiled his plan Tuesday to tighten control and enforcement of firearms in the United States. According to Carroll business has picked up in recent weeks as a result of coverage of the plan. Joshua Polson/Greeley Tribune via AP

The two legislators — Sen. John Morse and Rep. Angela Giron — had backed controversial gun-control laws in the wake of the Aurora theater shooting and Sandy Hook shooting. That support proved unpopular in their home districts and they were each voted out.

A third legislator — Sen. Evie Hudak — resigned her seat as petitions circulated for her recall.   

In the wake of the recalls, advocates in Colorado weren’t sure what to do next, and worried further efforts to push gun safety measures would prove equally dicey for lawmakers who backed them.

But now, a few years and several more mass shootings after the recalls, that reticence is gone.

“We were still changing culturally, and it was very much the third rail of politics,” said Erin DaCosta, a volunteer leader with Moms Demand Action Colorado, an advocacy group pushing for tougher gun laws.

DaCosta said that while the recalls were devastating, the conversation around guns has changed, and she and other advocates on her side of the fence say they are confident gun control will not only be an issue in this election, but one that they can win on.

“People are fed up with the inaction of Congress,” she said.

With the November election just 11 months away, gun policy is  shaping up to be a major debate topic — especially in Aurora’s 6th Congressional District — and advocates on both sides of the issue expect background checks to be a central piece of that.

DaCosta said extending background checks to all sales — including private sales and those at gun shows -— is not just a measure that could help reduce gun violence, but also one that has broad enough support that it could actually become law.

Last week, after he announced executive orders aimed at extending background checks to some sales that weren’t previously covered by them, President Barack Obama said he would campaign only  for candidates who support those sorts of gun control measures.

DaCosta said that was a huge moment for the gun safety movement.

“The tide has changed, this has been a critical turning point,” she said. 

Dave Hoover, whose nephew, A.J. Boik, was killed in the Aurora shooting, said background checks are a common sense starting point to battle gun violence.

A police officer and gun owner himself, Hoover said it’s hard for him to understand the opposition to background checks. The last time he got one, Hoover said it took about 15 minutes and during that time, he strolled around the store and found a few other items to buy.

Dave Kopel, research director at the Independence Institute, a libertarian-leaning nonprofit that backs gun rights, said the question of background checks isn’t quite so simple.

Kopel, who is the lawyer for more than 50 Colorado sheriffs who filed a lawsuit challenging the state’s enhanced background check law, said that in general, neither he nor his clients oppose background checks on gun sales.

A customer looks at a SIG Sauer hand gun at a gun show held by Florida Gun Shows, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016, in Miami. President Barack Obama announced proposals this week to tighten firearms sales through executive action. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

But expanding the checks to all gun transfers, including letting a family member borrow a gun or even letting police return a stolen weapon to its rightful owner, is unworkable.

“When you make that the only way you can even borrow a gun, then you have to have a functional system that you can use,” he said.

Colorado’s current system, which requires sellers to go to a gun store for their background checks, is so unworkable that Kopel said it is actually driving people away from getting a background check.

Gun rights advocates have also pointed out that in many recent mass shootings, including Aurora and Sandy Hook, background checks wouldn’t have stopped the gunmen from getting the weapons they used.

Hoover said that argument misses the larger point about gun violence as a whole.

“It’s not just the mass shootings,” he said. “The loss of anyone’s life, any family member’s life, is horrible.”

17 replies on “GUNNING FOR REFORMS: Once fearful of recalls, gun control proponents advance”

  1. IF NO GUN BAN, TAX GUNS TO THE HILT ~ A month ago I figured out a tax-credit system from a gun insurance to reduce gun violence (https://www.yofiel.com/writing/essays/creating-consensus-on-gun-liberties ). My system would have given all taxpayers much lower taxes with tax credits. After writing a complete justification to keep guns (https://www.yofiel.com/writing/essays/gun-rights-natural-rights-and-the-declaration-of-independence ). I received this week alone 500 pieces of hate mail from gun lovers. So, what did the gun people say? They said that tax credits are too expensive for people to afford! Apparently, gun lovers think ‘tax credit’ means ‘higher taxes.’ And that’snot all. They said they won’t give in to my justification to keep guns, however much I argue for it. About a dozen said they would shoot me first, before they would let my arguments why they should be able to keep their guns cause them to lose their weapons….

    Americans who get guns are just too stupid to trust with firearms. THAT is why Americans hurt themselves or someone else with guns more than any other developed nation (except some places with civil wars, but not all of them). The reason is simply because too many gun owners are either morons or insane. They are so eager to pick a fight they will argue with someone who is trying to help them. They will seize on any argument whatsoever that they can understand (usually numbers) and ignore or despise anything contrary, and often are so mindless they pick things that prove they are wrong. The best thing to do is not to trust our lives in the hands of these angry, dangerous, threatening, stubborn, egocentric half brains. They certainly don’t deserve the freedoms promised in the constitution to benign society. I withdraw support from my own tax-credit idea. I have to support a constitutional amendment to ban guns entirely, or if they aren’t banned, they should be taxed to the absolute hilt.

    Not that I am happy about it either. In the last month on the gun control/gun rights debate, I have tried persuading BOTH sides of the debate on compromise, and BOTH sides refuse to back down. So I have to pick one side. I have no choice. War was declared, and I was in no-man’s land. I cannot crucify myself between two extremist groups any further. In 3,000 replies this month, every single one but four said I was on the other side and therefore wrong. Three who approved were all constitutional lawyers, the other was a journalist.From the other 2,997, all they actually say all day long are a continual stream of insults. From both sides. I can’t say the anti-gun people are that much better, ethically, except at least they are not pro killing, and not quite as stupid or insane. That’s about all. So now this is my insulting opinion. The whole gun affair is an abortion of democracy, a disgrace to civilization, and further destruction of the idea of ‘pursuit of true happiness’ as acting for the greater good.

    As I said in November, I will not be at all surprised when then the insurrections, secessions and civil war start. An insurrection started four weeks later. The governor of Texas demanded secession last week. I was proven right again. Civil war is only a stepping stone away, possibly inside Texas itself between its own gun lovers, the next time it needs federal aid for floods or whatever. I will be on the other, other side, that taxes guns and doesn’t want them. Good luck with killing each other, and good bye.

    1. The left has been pushing further left and more divisive since President Obama took office. He is the great divider and pushing gun control, which is viewed as an infringement on Rights and the balance of power for We, the People is only adding to his divisive plan.

    2. More spam. Sounds like you’re mad that people actually saw through your thinly veiled attempt at taxing the already lawful among us.

      “Apparently, gun lovers think ‘tax credit’ means ‘higher taxes.'”

      Yes, a credit for everyone that is NOT a gun owner and per-gun taxes on everyone else is still a TAX on gun owners.

      I call BS on “have tried persuading BOTH sides of the debate on compromise”. Your sources alone show what side you were firmly on before you even began your “research”.

      At least your true hatred and blaming of gun owners now comes out in your posts.

      1. You people had your chance. I waited a year for any sign of reason whatsoever. Constitutional reform in line with natural rights is all that’s left. I stated it perfectly clearly.

    3. How do you know who owns guns? If a Civil War is a stepping stone away, I’m glad I’m supporting the side with guns.

        1. After taking a look at the illustrious Texas Governor Abbott, you have a point. He sounds like an updated version of Jefferson Davis.

          From what I understand Abbott wants to amend the Constitution to allow states to ignore Supreme Court decisions and the Federal Government in general. He sounds like an absurdity in my opinion.

  2. Is officer Hoover really an objective voice in the discussion?

    And Kopel is not missing the point, he hits the nail on the head. Yes, majority of Americans do support background checks on buyers. The Colorado version of universal background checks goes way above and beyond just meeting a very simple request – background checks on all buyers.

    UBC needs serious fixes and until then, it will be met with wide scale non compliance and no enforcement.

    Speaking of which, how do you enforce universal background checks without universal, retroactive registration? You can’t.

    Democrats – and Republicans need to fix the UBC system in Colorado. Here is a high level model of what could work. Yes, devil is in the details but we’re smart enough, have the technology to make it work.

    – Open NICS or CBI to private sellers with access via phone or internt
    – Make it free
    – Do not include temporary transfers
    – No Form 4473 or any record of the transaction
    – Go / No Go decision
    – Get the firearms industry behind this with PSAs focused mostly on “don’t risk selling a gun to a prohibited person…”

    A final thought. Should it be required of every gun sale? Again, most would simple say yes. But so many private gun sales take place between family, friends, neighbors, etc. And by far the vast majority are harmless. Even though the system I propose is much less intrusive, is it necessary to go through the process for me to sell a gun to my life long friend and hunting buddy who already has a safe full of guns, is a prominent lawyer and doesn’t even have a speeding ticket? No, it really isn’t necessary.

  3. Morons.

    The best thing about the Dems renewed love of gun control is that it will cost them countless elections across the US.

    Hopefully it will set them back 20 years, just like last time.

    1. Don’t bet on Dems losing on gun control. It could be repubs who are set back 20 years and then some.

  4. The Second Amendment protects us from not only tyranny, but also civil unrest which is brewing in this country. If we are going to allow economic migrants and refugees, along with ISIS and other radicals, then an armed citizenry is a necessity.

Comments are closed.