Coloradans react to Obama’s federal action on gun laws

Coloradans react to Obama’s federal action on gun laws
President Barack Obama’s executive action to tighten gun laws received a volley of criticism from Colorado Republicans and support from Democrats.


Saying Congress has failed to act on curbing gun violence, President Barack Obama on Tuesday used executive actions to hire more people to do background checks, narrow the scope of who can sell guns without a license, and ramp up enforcement of existing gun laws.

In Colorado, a state that has played host to both bloody gun violence and bitter political battles over gun laws, reaction was swift.

Responses from Republican members of Congress here ranged from accusing Obama of executive overreach (Mike Coffman, Aurora), to saying the president’s actions would only inhibit efforts for good guys who want guns to get them (Doug Lamborn, Colorado Springs), or that Obama’s new efforts would be defeated in the courts (Scott Tipton, Windsor). Congressman Ken Buck tied the gun issue to a favorite GOP talking point, saying if the president wants to enforce existing laws he should protect the southern border.

Colorado Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner of Yuma said Obama has “little respect for the rights of gun-owning Americans and even less respect for our Constitution.”

But Colorado already has tougher gun laws on its books than the federal government, coupled with measures that deal with mental health. In 2013, state lawmakers put a 15-round limit on gun magazines and implemented background checks for private gun sellers.

Doing so didn’t come without political consequences. In a recall election, voters ousted two Democratic lawmakers who supported Colorado’s new gun laws.

Those two former legislators, John Morse and Angela Giron, who served in the Colorado Senate, accompanied Obama during his news conference at the White House.

“It’s not odd in the least that we got invited, the president followed Colorado’s lead. It just took two-and-a-half years,” Morse said. Girion said she thought they got the invite as a reward for standing up to the gun lobby.

At least four other Coloradans were in attendance, including Democratic Rep. Rhonda Fields, a mother and an uncle of a victim in the Aurora theater shooting, the sister of a Sandy Hook elementary school shooting victim, and the daughter of a slain Columbine teacher.

In Colorado, “Universal background checks stopped some 6,590 people in Colorado from buying guns last year and also resulted in the arrests of 227 fugitives,” reported KOAA News5 in Colorado Springs. The most common reason a potential gun buyer was denied a firearm in November, the station reported, was for a conviction, assault, or arrest.

Also in 2013, the year of the Colorado gun laws, Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper created 10 mental health crisis centers in the state that run 24 hours a day. “The walk-in crisis centers — five in the Denver area, plus one each in Grand Junction, Pueblo, Colorado Springs, Greeley and Fort Collins — received 20,155 visits in the past year,” reports The Denver Post.

If history is any lesson, however, the president’s new gun actions are certain to have at least one immediate outcome: a mass panic-induced firearms shopping spree. Go to a gun show in America sometime and you might see an unlikely face on a poster denoting a man as “Firearms salesman of the year”: Barack Obama. When he talks about gun laws, people start packing.

Indeed, consider this headline today in The Colorado Springs Gazette: “Colorado Springs firearm stores do brisk business after Obama announcement.”


[Photo credit: Bill & Vicki T on Flickr]

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About the Author

Corey Hutchins

is a journalist in Colorado, and Columbia Journalism Review's Rocky Mountain correspondent for the United States Project. Follow him on Twitter @CoreyHutchins and email him at CoreyHutchins [at] gmail [dot] com.

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