Yesterday, Colorado went almost totally Blue, Democrats swept up offices across the state. Affirmative of the work of the gun violence movement, many of the winning candidates campaigned on issues dealing with gun violence. Summarizing: With the change in CD6, Colorado’s congressional delegation is now Democratic by 4 to 3.
- Joe Neguse easily won CD2. Neguse is the Colorado’s first African-American in Congress and was born to parents who had immigrated to the United States from Eritrea.
- Jason Crow, a former Army ranger, ousted Congressman Mike Coffman in CD6. Despite the fact that his district contained the Aurora Theater, Coffman was unrelenting in his obeisance to the NRA, which the voters noted. Crow, who won by 53%-44%, openly embraced numerous gun violence prevention measures.
Democrats also swept all statewide positions. It is the first time since 1936 that all the statewide seats and the legislature will be Democratic.
- Jared Polis will be the first openly gay male Governor in the United States and referred to his husband as the Colorado’s first First Man. Polis also embraced gun violence prevention measures, whereas his opponent Walker Stapleton dismissed the laws enacted in 2013 (Universal Background Checks, Domestic Violence Relinquishment and High Capacity Magazine Ban). It wasn’t even close. Polis won by 52% – 45%.
- Democrats also captured the offices of Secretary of State, Treasurer and Attorney General. The only nail-biter of the evening was the Attorney General’s race, where Phil Weiser defeated George Brauchler by 50%-47%. Weiser embraced gun violence prevention proposals, which as Attorney General he will be in the position of defending if the gun rights crowd sues (They will.). Brauchler, at a forum in March, proclaimed that none of the bills passed in 2013 would have stopped the Aurora Theater shooter – apparently overlooking the 100-round magazine used by the shooter.
Much of the focus was on the Colorado Senate, which was Republican by one vote. Now it will be Democratic by 19-16. A local television anchor noted that one of the first acts of the new legislature will be enacting the red flag (Extreme Risk Protection Orders) bill. Running that legislation against tough odds was illustrative to voters of what a Republican Senate could do to a bill that had overwhelming public support.
Democrats referred to a critical set of Senate races as the Fab Five. These were expected to be close races, but all of the Fab Five were victorious by substantial margins.
- Senator Kerry Donovan (SD 5 – mountain areas) easily trounced her opponent by 60%-40%. Donovan is not supportive of all of our positions, but that didn’t keep the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO) from seeking her ouster.
- Tammy Story (SD16 – Jeffco+) ousted Sen. Tim Neville by 55% – 42%. Although Neville was joined at the hip with RMGO, Story strategically chose to not discuss gun violence prevention in her campaign. Nevertheless, she is a significant improvement over the pro-gun rights enthusiast Neville.
- Jessie Danielson (SD20 – Jeffco) was expected to have a very close race, as her predecessor won by 0.5% in 2014. But Danielson ran a strong district-focused campaign, beating her opponent by 54%-43%.
- Brittany Pettersen (SD22 – Jeffco) was also expected to have a close race, but delivered a crushing blow to her opponent, an RMGO favorite. Pettersen won by 57% -43%. Her opponent, Tony Sanchez, received a great deal of criticism for an ugly mailer dealing with opioids. Pettersen has been quite open about the struggles her mother has had with drug addiction, and has taken it on as an issue of importance to her. Pettersen campaigned on the gun violence issue.
- Faith Winter (SD24 – Adams County) dispatched Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik with a 52% – 41% vote. Sen. Martinez Humenik attempted to parlay her more moderate stances to victory, but voters realized that her very presence in the senate turned Senate control to a party averse to progress.
The Colorado House of Representatives will now be Democratic with a 38-27 majority.
- Rochelle Galindo (Greeley) narrowly lost in her effort to keep HD50 in Democratic hands. It was the only seat to turn from blue to red. Galindo was not supportive of gun violence prevention concepts, but still garnered opposition from RMGO. She was the only victory for RMGO’s monetary investments.
- Easily, the sweetest moment of the election returns, was learning of Tom Sullivan’s victory in Centennial. HD37 was considered a strong Republican district. Sullivan, whose son Alex was shot and killed in the Aurora Theater beat Rep. Cole Wist by a 53%-47% margin, built on an incredibly constituent-focused campaign, visiting every home in the district several times, either by himself or with volunteers. We are grateful to Cole Wist for sponsoring the ERPO bill, and shudder at the death threats that his family received because of that sponsorship. Nevertheless, Wist had a record of repeatedly voting to loosen gun laws in our state. On the other hand, Tom was a GVP champion. Ever since the Aurora Massacre, Tom has been a consistent and persistent voice for gun violence prevention measures. When asked by a reporter, what his son Alex would say about his victory, he stated “Way to Go Dad!”
Although we don’t normally track County Commissioner races, we couldn’t help but notice that Lesley Dahlkemper defeated incumbent Tina Francone by 55%-45% in Jefferson County. Francone had been appointed to the seat after a vacancy, but we know her as a gun instructor and as an occasional witness at the capitol in support of loosening Colorado’s gun laws.
The Rocky Mountain Gun Owners were the force behind killing the Extreme Risk Protection Orders bill this year. Numerous Republicans, when asked to sponsor the bill, mentioned their concerns over reprisals from RMGO. We’ve contended for some time that RMGO’s bark is worse than its bite, especially in recent years. Following on the heels of their lousy showing in the primary (only one of six supported candidates was successful), the RMGO spent another $75,000 in the general election. Of that only 3% went to successful candidates. Big bad wolf??? Think again.
Colorado Ceasefire, through its PAC and Small Donor Committee donors, dedicated $12,650 to the General Election. Generally, Ceasefire does not donate to campaigns that are “sure” bets one way or the other, but this year we did reach out to several steeply uphill races, in recognition of candidates’ stances and vigorous campaigns. In contrast to the feckless RMGO, 90% of Ceasefire’s donations and expenditures went to victorious candidates.
World Suicide Prevention Day
September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day. In Colorado, suicides account for 3 out of 4 gun deaths. In 2017, there were 1175 suicides in our state, and 591 (50%) of them were accomplished by a gun. It is very unfortunate that the Colorado senate leaders elected to kill the ERPO (red flag) bill last May. A study of a comparable law in Connecticut showed that one life could be saved for every 10-20 risk warrants issued. In August, PBS aired a special on the benefits of ERPO laws.
If you are worried about a friend or relative, have them call 1-844-493-TALK, and if they have firearms, help them arrange for temporary storage out of their con
Guns in Schools
The Trace asked nine teachers and administrators how they wrestle with the specter of school shootings. One claimed “The Day I have to Carry a Gun to Teach, I’m Done.” Read their stories here. It seems that every time there is a shooting that grasps our attention and makes us even more cognizant of the insanity of our loose gun laws, the gun lobby takes it as an opportunity to make for even more guns in more places. Now their pressure effort is to arm public school teachers (Note: have to take a deep breath after typing that). For six years, we at Ceasefire have worked with others to defeat such ludicrous proposals at the state capitol (The worst bills were sponsored by Sen. Tim Neville and Rep. Patrick Neville, both of whom are on the ballot in November).
An innovative trio of folks (writer, psychologist and composer) have created three provocative short videos and calls to action, appropriately titled “Stop the Madness.”
Another Example of Concealed Carry Wisdom (?)
“After a raccoon climbed up a telephone pole in Colorado Springs, a man walking by responded in the way that seemed natural to him. He tried to shoot it down, reports KRDO. Police say it’s not clear how he botched the attempt, but 67-year-old Don Upshaw was taken to the hospital with a gunshot wound to his lower leg. Apparently, he was trying to shoot the raccoon with his revolver, but ‘ended up on the wrong side
- The majority used legally purchased firearms
- Had a history with the site they attack
- Do not have a long history of mental health issues
- Many engage in behaviors that may indicate impending violence
The study examined six major stressors: mental health issues, financial problems, marital problems, drug abuse, family conflicts, and conflicts at school. Click here to read the full report:
Mass Shootings Continue Unabated
In mid-May, a student used a handgun and shotgun to shoot and kill 8 classmates and 2 teachers at his high school in Santa Fe, Texas. The weapons belonged to his father, who clearly was negligent in storing his firearms. Now that schools are out for the summer, school shootings aren’t a daily concern, but that doesn’t mean that disgruntled individuals will discontinue their shooting rampages against fellow workers or fellow citizens. Last week, a gunman blasted his way into the office of The Capital, an Annapolis, Maryland, newspaper. Five journalists and support staff were killed. Mike Littwin, of the Colorado Independent, wrote this moving tribute to his friend and colleague who was killed in the “endlessly tragic news cycle that America has refused to address.” A contract reporter at The Capital shared her story of hiding out during the siege while her colleagues were fatally shot and wonders when America will act.
Note to elected officials: Regardless of what your gun lobby funders say, IT IS ABOUT THE GUNS!
Channel 7 News, Round table finds greatly differing opinions on role of guns in increasing school safety.
DENVER – While it never really went away, after the second school shooting in two weeks, the issue of school safety and guns in school is back in the political spotlight.
Marnie Kamensky, President of Colorado Ceasefire Outreach, was at the table.
“I think a huge misconception is that we want to take away people’s guns and that’s not it at all,” Madison Rose with Never Again Colorado told Anne Trujillo on this weekend’s Politics Unplugged. “We want to find some kind of balance. Something within the gun reform debate that we can use and work on to help ensure the safety of our children in schools.”
Armed and aging: A conversation about seniors, dementia and the right to bear arms…
University of Colorado Medical School study just released Monday find the number of adults with Alzheimer’s and dementia is steadily increasing, but questions around their access to firearms remain largely unaddressed. The study finds firearms are the most common method of suicide among people with dementia, but it explores other serious concerns with firearm possession and dementia. People with dementia can experience hallucinations, delusions, aggression and paranoia, and the study’s lead author, Dr. Emmy Betz with the University of Colorado School of Medicine, found many older adults have access to guns.
During these Dog Days of Summer….
The hot weather days between early July and early September are called Dog Days because the star Sirius (also called Canicula), which represents the hound of the Hunter Orion, makes its first visible rising during the summer. The days are also called “canicular” from canine.
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