The politics of spite has moved into Aurora where a state Republican Party official and a sinister group of gun-rights extremists have threatened to recall state Rep. Tom Sullivan, a Centennial Democrat.
They want Sullivan out because he sponsored Colorado’s nascent red-flag law, which allows courts and police to separate mentally ill people in crisis from their guns before they kill themselves or someone else.
Colorado Republican Party Vice Chairwoman Kristi Brown filed a petition to begin collecting signatures to force a recall election this fall. She tells the Denver Post she’s doing this not as a state GOP official, but just as someone who thinks laws keeping guns from insane people make no sense. She thinks people who back such laws, like Sullivan, whose son Alex was murdered by a mentally ill gunman during the Aurora theater shooting, should be punished and pummeled out of office.
Brown, and the frightening ammophiles at a gun-rights group calling themselves Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, say Sullivan and the dozens of state lawmakers who approved the state’s red-flag bill are out of touch with Colorado residents.
Those would be the same Colorado residents who pushed Republicans out of every statewide office up for election a few months ago and handed the keys to the Legislature to Democrats.
Out of touch? Just the opposite is true.
Real people, by a huge margin, think mentally ill gone off the rails people should not have firearms.
And real people, by a huge margin, think that if mentally ill people do have guns, they shouldn’t have access to them if they go off the rails.
Not at all. Dubbed “red flag” bills, or by their legal name, “extreme risk protection orders,” the measures allow police, family or friends of a gun owner who’s acting like he or she has no business handling a gun to try and persuade a court of just that. No proof? No deal. But if you can persuade a judge that Uncle Bob is not just scary weird but seriously delusional and in need of help, the cops can get Uncle Bob’s guns before he turns them on his family or the school down the street.
Even in a world where sponsoring gun laws scares the hell out of politicians for fear of angering the Second Amendment gods at the NRA, red-flag laws are gaining popularity.
Last month, a University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll poll — yup, that Texas — revealed that a whopping 72 percent of that state’s voters want a red-flag law like Colorado’s.
Every reasonable person thinks taking guns from mentally ill people is a good idea. Not Brown, however. And not the moon-howlers at Rocky Mountain Gun Owners. These people are so whack that even hard-right Second Amendment fanatics publicly shun the RMGO cultists. In fact, just a few months ago, RMGO worked hard to undermine trusted Centennial Republican Cole Wist, who ran against Sullivan last fall for the state House seat they’re trying to snag now from Sullivan.
It would be easy to just give this caper a good eye roll and a shoulder shrug if it weren’t happening in a few political swamps across the state.
In Pueblo, GOP political zombies are attacking state Rep. Bri Buentello, a Democrat who voted against the bills that select Republicans find so offensive, a red-flag bill and Senate Bill 181, which turns oversight of industrial oil drilling and fracking over the local governments that have to live with it.
This isn’t just Colorado gunderthals wreaking political havoc. There’s a handful of loosely related far-right extremists trying to undermine Colorado’s election system to serve their own political purposes. Among them is Joe Neville, who runs a political action committee called Values First Colorado. He’s the brother of GOP state Rep. Patrick Neville, a champion for snuffing bills like Colorado’s red flag law in favor of arming teachers with guns in schools. Joe Neville wants to recall a few Democratic state lawmakers because they voted for bills focusing on things like protecting children from sexual abuse by providing better sex ed at school, and a bill making sure local cops aren’t tools of national immigration police.
We’re not talking about extreme measures like making kids get their vaccines or making bikers wear motorcycle helmets, we’re talking about no-brainer legislation that real people in Colorado have repeatedly said they want.
These recalls are beyond Colorado crazy. This is Trump crazy.
I say go ahead. Sign the petitions to recall Sullivan and the handful of other Democrats that the Posse Incontinentata is stalking this summer.
Let these bullies spend hundreds of thousands of their dollars to force recall elections of officials already up for election next year.
Then, vote the hell out of their extortion scheme. Vote for democracy, for what’s left of Colorado’s once-strong Republican Party, the rule of law and against the antics of spiteful extremists who are working to make Colorado like political cesspools half the country is trying to get away from.
Let them give reasonable residents a chance to vote these obstructionists off Colorado’s political map for good.
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