- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 1, 2015

DENVER — Gun rights advocates are crying foul after Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper linked last week’s deadly Planned Parenthood shooting to the prevalence of concealed-carry permit holders in Colorado Springs.

“And, in Colorado, we passed universal background checks,” Mr. Hickenlooper said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “But, at the same time, in Colorado Springs, it’s one of the more conservative parts of the state. We probably have more people that have licenses for concealed weapons, probably more guns around. That didn’t help.”

Jeff Crank, a conservative political strategist who hosts a talk show on KVOR-AM in Colorado Springs, called Mr. Hickenlooper’s statement “outrageous on its face.”

“Concealed-carry permits are for handguns. This crime appears to have been committed with a long gun,” said Mr. Crank, referring to initial police descriptions of the weapon.

He also noted that the suspect, 57-year-old Robert Lewis Dear Jr., lives in a trailer in Hartsel, Colorado, located in Park County, about 65 miles from Colorado Springs.

“[S]o the Governor’s suggestion that our local laws caused this are nothing more than demagoguery,” Mr. Crank said in an email. “In fact, the naivete of the Governor’s comments illustrate why he shouldn’t be trusted with either the protection of our lives or our rights granted under the Constitution.”

Mr. Hickenlooper ran afoul of gun rights advocates in 2013 after signing three gun control bills, including one expanding background checks to firearms transfers, in response to the Aurora theater mass shooting in July 2012.

Laura Carno, who heads the conservative group “I Am Created Equal” in Colorado Springs, characterized the governor’s remarks as a “disgraceful comparison.”

“This is a classic case of the gun control world of trying to blame law-abiding citizens for the actions of people who are not law abiding. There’s nothing that says that this guy had a concealed-carry permit,” Ms. Carno said.

She cited reports indicating the suspect had several run-ins with the law in North Carolina and South Carolina before moving to Colorado about a year ago, which would have presumably disqualified him for a concealed-carry permit had he sought one anyway.

“The governor is trying to make a connection, and there is no way to make that connection,” Ms. Carno said. “There’s no evidence or even a hint that anybody with a lawful concealed-carry permit had anything to do with this.”

Mr. Dear was arrested in connection with Friday’s shooting rampage at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs that left three people dead and nine injured.

The horrific shooting prompted calls from gun control groups and Democrats, led by President Obama, for tighter firearms restrictions.

“I think, as a state, but as a country, we have got a lot more thinking about this, of how to make sure we keep guns out of the hands of people that are unstable,” Mr. Hickenlooper, a Democrat, said in the interview.

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