Martin O’Malley crashes GOP debate to talk gun control

“I’m here in search of a very elusive being, and that is a GOP candidate with the backbone to take on the NRA,” — Martin O’Malley

Martin O’Malley crashes GOP debate to talk gun control

All eyes will be on the Republican presidential candidates later this evening, but this afternoon, one Democratic candidate stole some thunder. Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley stopped through Boulder on Thursday to talk gun control.

“I’m here in search of a very elusive being, and that is a GOP candidate with the backbone to take on the NRA,” O’Malley told a group of reporters at a press conference.

First he met with activists from the group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. O’Malley mostly listened during the private roundtable discussion as people who lost relatives to gun violence shared their stories.

When a father whose son was killed in the Columbine High School shooting told O’Malley about how his subsequent efforts to close the gun-show loophole were successful, the governor replied: “Good.”


O’Malley is struggling to get his foot in the door with Democrats who seem intractably focused on Bernie Sanders and Hilary Clinton. But gun control is an area where O’Malley sees himself shine.

In the first primary debate when candidates were asked to name their biggest political enemy, O’Malley didn’t skip a beat in naming his: the NRA.

He touts his work on the issue in Maryland, where he enacted the Firearm Safety Act in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012. The law bans various kinds of assault rifles and magazines with more than 10 rounds, requires firearm purchasers to go through fingerprinting, licensing and safety training and prohibits individuals on probation for violent crimes from owning a gun.

Tom Sullivan, whose 27-year-old son was killed in the Aurora theater shooting, said O’Malley is “talking the talk, and that’s what we need”

Sandy Phillips, whose daughter Jessie was a victim in the Aurora movie theater shooting, spoke on the roof of the University Memorial Center on CU’s campus. After telling her gut-wrenching story, Phillips praised Gov. O’Malley for his commitment to gun control.IMG_0011

“He doesn’t just say the right thing, he does the right thing.”

O’Malley addressed the gathered crowd of reporters, local politicos and students.

“I’m hopeful tonight that the moderators will ask the Republican candidates that if 80 percent of Americans actually believe in universal background checks, why can’t we find the backbone to actually confront the NRA and actually get it done.”



Top photo by Corey Hutchins

Additional photos by Nat Stein

Additional reporting by Corey Hutchins. 

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About the Author

Nat Stein

Nat Stein is a Denver-based reporter. Check out her other work at Cipher magazine, KRCC public radio, Jacobin magazine and In These Times.

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