Gun control groups are in full-blown campaign mode in this week leading up to the anniversary of the Newtown tragedy.
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence held a conference call for reporters on Monday to spin its victories in the eight states that passed major laws restricting Second Amendment rights over the last year.
However, the speakers became defensive when asked about the the first successful statewide recall elections in Colorado.
“There’s been disproportionate attention paid to the Colorado recall, where the corporate gun lobby was able to create the perfect circumstances for a handful of extremists to carry the day,” said Dan Gross, the president of the Brady Campaign.
“We really won this year. We beat them and they are desperate to cast the story the other way but that’s not the story that actually happened.” Mr. Gross laughed and added that, “The law that was actually passed — and by the way is still on the books — is going to make Colorado safer.”
He’s referring to the two laws passed by the Democratic-controlled legislature and signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper that banned magazines over 15 rounds and mandated all gun sales go through a licensed dealer. The statutes went into effect on July 1.
Robyn Thomas, the executive director of the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence chimed in on the call that the NRA was “able to create this unfortunately little anomaly in Colorado” but that “they lost in Colorado, and they are losing all over the country, and they don’t want that to be the story.”
Mr. Gross directed the media to dismiss the importance of Colorado as representative of the public will for more gun-control laws.
“In terms of electoral politics, let’s look at the governor election in Virginia and McAuliffe. He ran on this issue in the home state of the corporate gun lobby and won proudly,” he said referring the Fairfax-based NRA. “That is a far greater testimony to the sustained will of the American public than two small districts [in Colorado.]”
Mr. Bloomberg spent $1.1 million on ads supporting Mr. McAuliffe’s campaign to pressure for more restrictions on the Second Amendment in the Commonwealth.
While the Colorado elections took on national importance once leftist groups started pouring money into the state, they started organically by grassroots supporters who got well over the 10,000 signatures required to force a recall.
“The Colorado recalls were really a David versus Goliath story,” Ryan Call, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party told me Monday. “The effort to unseat these radical and out of touch Democrat lawmakers originated and were motivated by grassroots citizens who were overwhelmingly out-raised and outspent by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, labor unions and a host of liberal special interest groups.”
The Colorado GOP and the National Rifle Association did not get involved financially until late in the process after Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) and other left-wing groups from out of state spent approximately $3 million. Mr. Bloomberg also wrote a personal check for $350,000.
In the end, the NRA and GOP were outspent by about six to one.
Two Democrats — State Senate President John Morse and State Sen. Angela Giron of Pueblo — were voted out of office on Sept. 10 because of their support and votes on gun-control laws. They were replaced by Republicans Bernie Herpin and George Rivera. (A third state senator, Evie Hudak, resigned last month rather than face a recall.)
Colorado Senate Minority Leader, Bill Cadman, said that the elections happened because “Bloomberg’s hired guns were entrenched in Democrat Senate President [Morse] — now former, that is — running MAIG’s agenda against law abiding, liberty-loving, freedom fighters.”
Mr. Cadman, a Republican, said first two recall elections saw a political landslide against the largest odds and “credit belongs to a group of folks who were virtually political novices.”
Despite all the gun-control activists’ protestations that Colorado was a victory in 2013, Brady ranked the state two slots lower than in its last ranking in 2011 - No. 15 out of 50. In the law center’s chart, it upgraded the state from a D to a C.
The gun grabbers are correct that Coloradans lost constitutional rights in 2013 and will have to wait for the lawsuit challenging the new laws to go through the courts.
But they are wrong that the recall elections were an aberration.
Quite the opposite. Republican, Democrat and Independent voters sent a clear message to their representatives that they do not want their Second Amendment rights infringed.
Emily Miller is senior editor of opinion for The Washington Times and author of “Emily Gets Her Gun” (Regnery, 2013).