The Flip Side: Recall redux

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]welve people lost their lives last year when James Holmes, profusely armed and dressed like the Joker, sprayed Aurora moviegoers with bullets while The Dark Knight Rises played out on the screen. A reporter on this site wrote that the gun control laws passed in this year’s legislative session “came in reaction to the random massacres” in Aurora and Connecticut.

As a coordinator for the final ground game in the effort to recall state Senate President John Morse, the leader of the gun-control effort, I organized a rally a week before the recall election for Colorado sheriffs who opposed the gun control laws. That same day, just down the street, the Morse campaign gathered families of victims of the Aurora shooting in support of the laws limiting magazine size, which they touted as a direct deterrent to future mass shootings.

flip side The parading of families was exploitive.

The Congressional Research Service’s recently released report on “Public Mass Shootings in the United States” underscores the “overarching difficulty confronting experts interested in crafting policy to address mass shootings.” It reads, “Baseline metrics gauging the effectiveness of policies to thwart public mass shootings are often unclear or unavailable.” That didn’t stop Morse and state Sen. Angela Giron, a fellow gun-control proponent, from loading up with more than fifteen rounds of rhetoric and aiming it at voters. Their strategy: making stuff up to justify some over-reaching and unfounded legislation while ignoring what many believe is the real issue in mass shootings – the failure of the mental health system. The psychological fitness of a potential assailant may have far more affect on whether he or she will carry out a mass shooting than the availability of guns or magazines.

A while back, I met Jeanne Assam, a member of the security team at Colorado Springs’ New Life Church who was off duty, but packing a gun the day of the 2007 shooting there. The leader of that church estimates that Jeanne saved hundreds of lives by taking out the shooter. Nationwide, there are estimated to have been at least nine potential mass shootings that appear to have been thwarted by a bystander carrying a firearm.

Legislators not only ignored the facts during last session’s gun debates, but also disregarded the views of citizens weighing in on the bills

While the measures were in committee, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said lawmakers changed the rules for hearing testimony three times in three days – more than he had seen in twelve years of testifying at the statehouse. Maketa told the Colorado Springs Gazette, “Apparently ‘expert’ [witnesses] included an individual that was not a resident of Colorado who had no credentials to qualify as an expert except his spouse was a victim of the Tucson, Arizona, shooting. [The man] admitted he had not read the proposed bill and could not speak to specifics regarding this bill.” Meanwhile, countless citizens who had queued up to testify never got the chance, breaking with tradition for committee hearings.

Katherine Whitney, a law student at the University of Colorado and member of Women for Concealed Carry, knew she was representing the views of countless like-minded Coloradans when testified that lawmakers shouldn’t have been pushing for gun control, but rather for bills protecting her right to carry a firearm for her self-defense and safety.

During the session, I heard from lawmakers that Vice President Joe Biden was holed up in Aspen, phoning legislators and urging them to vote for the gun bills. So, who did the Democratic majority listen to? Intimidators from Washington rather than the people of Colorado, some who voted them into office and – as we saw in September – a majority who voted them right back out.

The recalls were very much a response to the new gun laws. But, make no mistake, they also were about far more. Sens. Morse and Giron were recalled because the voters believed they didn’t listen to or represent their views.

Now on the heels of Friday’s Arapahoe High School shooting, Democrats may propose even stricter gun laws such as more “gun free zones” in certain areas throughout the state. If so, they’ll need to manufacture reasons beyond the fictions Morse and Giron were touting last session. It is illogical to view “gun free zones” as a means of protection rather than as a Welcome sign to armed, dangerous and mentally unsound criminals, and as a “Do Not Enter” for law-abiding adults safely carrying firearms.

CNN reported Monday that the intended rampage at Arapahoe High School lasted only 80 seconds, largely because the troubled shooter took his own life when he became aware that an armed sheriffs deputy had entered the library to contain him. If someone else had been carrying in the area where shooter first entered the school, Claire Davis may not have been shot.

Despite this, Democrats likely will continue to tie incidents like Friday’s with arguments that guns are overly available in Colorado. And Republicans, in turn, will do their best to debunk the connection between mass shootings and sane, law abiding citizens exercising their Second Amendment rights.

As we head into a new legislative session in January, challenges to the new gun laws may not see the light of day. The Denver Post asked state Senator Pat Steadman, D-Denver, if the Democratic majority would send repeal legislation to so-called ‘kill committees.’ Steadman said, “I don’t see any more floor debate needed on the gun laws we passed.” Democrats may sweep the gun debate off the statehouse floor. But you can be sure that gun rights advocates throughout the state will kick the issue right back up come next November’s elections.


  1. WOW – an alternate view? That is refreshing in writers who appear in the Colorado Independent. I am delighted that the Indy is now supporting BOTH sides of an issue. Its about time!

    In this article, Tamra Farah hits the issues with facts and not emotion as is used by most Indy writers! She posts resources that anyone can check for themselves if they are interested in educating themselves about the gun debate. This article clearly shows that Democrats in the state legislature want citizens as victims, not as armed, defenders of themselves and their loved ones. Note that the Colorado legislature has ARMED GUARDS protecting them, but the Democrats in that august body do NOT want regular citizens to have the same protection. They want citizens as “sitting ducks” or targets for any wacko with a gun, car, knife or bomb.

    Gun free zones simply encourage mentally ill individuals who are basically cowards to choose such places as the individuals in them are easy target. They can be picked off easily as they have no way of defending themselves. A mentally ill individual can create chaos and mayhem but not have to face endangering their demented lives as no one has guns for self defense. In every case in the last two years, all places selected but hess wackos were “gun free zones” – a children’s camp in Europe, The Washington Navy Yard, Fort Hood, Aurora Movie Theaters, Schools, etc.

    John Lott in his third edition book, More Guns, Less Crime, proves with exhaustive research that when a society is armed it is a polite society. He also has demonstrated that with more guns, there is less violent crime in society. FBI statistics also prove this point. Violent crime has been going down in the last decade according to their data.

    Tamra Farah has highlighted just some of the issues behind the gun debate and she does it with common sense. Let’s see more from this writer!

  2. Quite a mouthful Helen. Democrats want citizens to be the targets of “any wacko with a gun, car, knife or bomb”. Your rant speaks for itself as does the
    moronic comment of Mr. Viser that Governor Hickenlooper “left his son and Arapahoe High School vulnerable”. How pathetic.

    Tamra Farah made a couple of plainly stupid remarks in her rationalizations for more guns in our midst. First she claims Vice President was “holed up” in Aspen and the Democratic majority listened to Washington Intimidators rather than the citizens of Colorado. I believe Speaker Farrandino allowed the floor debate to go on for 12 hours and that each side were given 90 minutes to testify before each committee before the final votes. I’m not sure what the hell Tamra is ranting about.

    Tamra made this ludicrous comment regarding US Representative Gabrielle Giffords who was shot in the Tucson incident. She writes, “Apparently expert witnesses included an individual that was not a resident of Colorado who had no credentials to qualify as an expert witness except his spouse was a victim in the Tucson Az shooting”. She’s referring to Mark Kelly who’s spouse in this case happened to be US Representative Gabrielle Giffords. I doubt Tamra or Helen Sabin would be whining over their guns so loudly if they had been on the receiving end of bullet to the head. Sorry Tamra. Your sour grapes don’t cut it.

    Finally Tamra like all her ilk and their NRA “good guys with guns” mentality surmises had “someone else been carrying in the area where the shooter entered the school, Claire Davis may not have been shot”. Is that so. What makes you so sure? We may have had further carnage not less.

    Like the claims of John Lott’s theory of a “polite society” in which we all have guns strapped to our hips while we go about our daily routines. How comforting to know we can shoot one another at the slightest provocation. Isn’t that what happened when Jessie James ran the show a hundred years ago? Give me a break!

  3. I guess my next question for all the people who advocate more guns as a solution to gun violence would be what is their solution for the drug war……more drugs???

  4. In response to Jim Saunders:

    Now that we have made our opening statements, do you see any role for improved school security in any form or fashion? As a parent of an Arapahoe High School student, I am motivated to make our school, and others, safer.

    I do not advocate that we change the open campus policy, although I am sure that is something Littleton Public Schools must evaluate, but in my view something needs to be done to (a) make it more difficult for someone with evil intent to enter the school and (b) provide an immediate response to an active shooter. Fortunately, Deputy Englert was on site at the time of the shooting.

    Now that you have made your criticisms, what constructive ideas can you add to the conversation that our lawmakers will surely have in the aftermath of this tragedy?

  5. Bob Harold. Drugs? Really? Are your covertly trying to make we civil rights activists’ point? Anyone with an IQ higher than their temperature knows even with all the so-called “laws” against (some) drugs, they are everywhere. As long as anyone is willing to pay for (some) drugs, they will flourish. How naïve must one be to believe that the millions of guns in this country can be miraculously made to “just go away”. No, they are here to stay until something more effective renders them obsolete. It’s so obvious and well rendered that it’s almost inane to repeat it, but heah goes I anyway; only those who strive to remain law-abiding will be restricted by gun laws. The quickest and surest way to guarantee mass murder and even genocide is to disarm one side in a conflict. Examples being Bosnia, Ruwanda, and the Zulu in South Africa. Murderous Mao in China stated, “Political power comes from the barrel of a gun” if this is even a little bit true, it’s only sensible for free people to make sure that this particular power remains in the hands of the individual, where ALL political power originates?

  6. Tara – Thank you for your piece, it is well-written and heartfelt. Also, it represents the views of many Coloradoans.

    Your first attempt at blogging took on a big, controversial issue. If you have not yet figured this out, no matter what opinion you have, there will always be opposition to it. Please take the criticisms in stride, and never let it stop you from doing what you believe is right.

    After all, with right and clear perception comes responsibility.

    Keep writing.

  7. “Uphold The Constitution”. Now there’s a catchy phrase for you. “Uphold The Constitution”. That’s kind of laughable actually.

    I love how the NRAr’s wrap themselves in patriotism and guns equating gun laws with totalitarian government. What a joke. The gun crowd doesn’t know anymore about the Constitution or the minds of the Founders than the rest of us.

    They love to talk about the “Constitution” and take quotes of the Founders out of context to fit their jingoistic agenda. The beauty of the Constitution lies in it’s flexibility as the Founders intended. It’s served us well for over two centuries. I think the Founding Fathers can be proud of their great work that’s preserved our country through thick and thin and granted every citizen the right to speak their minds.

    The pro gun folks may think they have all the answers. They don’t in my opinion. I would remind them the Constitution is open to interpretation and there are many of us who simply disagree with their views.

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