This document contains running commentary about the 2000 Colorado legislative session, in reverse chronological order. Send your comments and updates to email@example.com. The editor retains sole discretion concerning the inclusion and editing of comments. The opinions of one contributor do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any other person. Commentary is by Ari Armstrong unless otherwise noted.
Senate Judiciary Passes Some Gun Restrictions, Kills Worst
The Senate Judiciary Committee today killed Senator Rob Hernandez' bill 089 that would have expanded honest-citizen background checks to all gun transfers and prohibited adults ages 18-20 from exercising their Constitutional right to keep and bear arms.
The Committee agreed to hear Senator Ron Teck's SB00-010 tomorrow, which would stop politicized lawsuits against gun and ammunition manufacturers, and it killed a "rapist protection" bill that would require gun owners to lock up their means of self-defense.
Unfortunately, the Committee voted in support of Republican Dave Owen's bill 125, which requires the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to run honest-citizen background checks on top of the checks run by the FBI. CBI records are frequently incomplete, so the agency regularly and wrongfully denies lawful citizens their right to purchase guns. Since the CBI checks were mandated by Governor Bill Owens in August, 1999, CBI has wrongfully denied permission to hundreds of honest gun buyers. Those citizens must then prove themselves innocent to the CBI before they can purchase a gun, a process which takes days or weeks of legal work.
Now, CBI checks will be even more flawed, since Owen's bill adds juvenile records to the documents CBI must examine.
Other Senate Actions
SB00-073 -- The "Repeal Federal Mandates Act" passed the Senate today. Unfortunately, the bill doesn't live up to its name. It provides Colorado officers more leeway in enforcing federal mandates, but it doesn't allow Coloradans to ignore intrusive and Unconstitutional federal mandates. The Ninth and Tenth Amendments of the Bill of Rights remain on hold.
SB00-029 -- Senators Hillman and Young have helped recognize the full property rights of farmers in Colorado. In some rural areas, the vogue of some yuppies is to move into farming communities. But farms are frequently smelly and noisy, so the newcomers are suing. But first-in-time property rights require that newcomers recognize the pre-existing property uses. If you don't like the smells and noises which have gone on for generations in these communities as a way of life, then move back to California.
See the CSSA web page for more reviews and a list of active gun bills as of today.
HB00-1106 -- This bill would create a shared database among the FBI and several states of criminal records for NONcriminal purposes, like background checks. Obviously a plant by some federal troll, 1106 would lead to even more wrongful denials of firearm purchases. It is also Unconstitutional (not that that seems to bother legislators these days). 1106 is scheduled to be heard by the house as a whole on January 25.
HB00-1084 -- This "paycheck protection" bill takes aim at union political activities conducted at the expense of union members. Unions like all other organizations should be able to spend money any way they choose as a First Amendment freedom. The problem is that unions are not strictly voluntary organizations, but rather propped up by legal privileges. Unions are proper and potentially beneficial, but only if they are not entitled to trample the property rights of business owners. 1084 is an attempt to deal with the symptoms of the problem without addressing the cause.
HB-1289 -- State, Veterans, and Military Affairs has been called to hear 1289. It would prevent localities from violating the Colorado Constitution with regards to the right to keep and bear arms.
HB-1179 -- Apparently, legislators who have never cut hair in their lives feel compelled to micro-manage the cosmetology industry for all of Colorado. As originally written, 1179 would have repealed the State Board of Barbers and Cosmetologists and replaced it with the Division of Registrations as the licensing agency of hair care providers. As amended today by Business Affairs and Labor, the bill would make sure even hair braiders and scalp massagers are licensed. But why do we need the State to license hair care in the first place? The worst that could possible happen is that somebody's hair might turn orange, but then legal remedies (law suits) exist to resolve such problems. Businesses provide good service in order to establish a reputation and make money, not because the State issues licenses. WATCH OUT! THE SCALP-MASSAGE POLICE ARE COMING!
The following message was sent out by Dudley Brown. For Ari Armstrong's evaluation on some of the gun bills of the 2000 session, see Showdown on Guns.
Legislative Committees to begin hearings on gun issues
Friday, January 21, 2000 -- The House and Senate have scheduled hearings on a number of gun controls proposals next week, with more surely to be heard shortly thereafter.
It's time to gear up the troops.
On Monday, January 24th at 1:30 pm, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hear SB10 (which limits lawsuits against firearms manufacturers), SB89 (which sets sweeping new limits on firearms transfers & age of possession), and SB125 (which authorizes the CBI to conduct the Brady Registration checks). The schedule also announces that other firearms-related bills could be heard on that day, should any be introduced in time.
The hearing will be in room 356, which is where many gun bills have been heard in previous years (on third floor, between the elevators). On Tuesday, January 25th, the House State Affairs Committee will hear one good bill (HB1208, another lawsuit limitation bill for gun manufacturers) as well as some disastrous bills: HB1220 (Under 21 Gun Show Purchase Prohibition) and HB1245 (Prohibiting Weapons on School Property). That meeting will take place in room 0107 (in the basement of the Capitol, between the elevators) upon adjournment of the House (around 10:00 am).
There is also rumor that the House Judiciary Committee will hear a number of the "more reasonable" gun control proposals on Thursday. We will forward any details as we confirm.
Everyone is strongly encouraged to attend. If you want to testify on the bills, we suggest talking to RMGO Executive Director Dudley Brown for instructions. Look for his RMGO nametag.
Here's what to do: Call the following State Senators and Representatives as soon as possible to urge them to vote against ALL of the gun control proposals, whether sponsored by liberal Democrats, moderate Republicans, or our turncoat Governor.
Some politicians are telling citizens they are opposing gun control, but then are actively working for "reasonable gun safety measures." Once these laws get momentum, they will be difficult to stop and nearly impossible to repeal. And don't assume a bill will stay in its current form: measures like the "Straw Purchase" bill could easily be amended to prohibit giving a firearm as a gift, and passed through the process quickly. Let's kill these bills quickly, and get back to the business of concealed carry and passing a statewide preemption law.
Republican Bill Would Make Buying Son a .22 a Felony
Of course, the bill is a knee-jerk reaction to the Columbine killings and was only supposed to restate present law that outlaws buying a gun for a criminal. Unfortunately, when laws are written to appease the gun-grabbers, rather than to resolve a legitimate problem, the result is often ambiguous language that can be used against honest citizens by over-zealous prosecutors.
When notified of the problem, Representative Dean wrote, "The way the bill was drafted is incorrect. We have to get rid of the language relating to purchase. Otherwise, the scenario about the gift is correct. I told Decker about that as soon as I saw it, and he promised to amend that provision out in committee. I'll make sure to watch it when it gets to the floor as well" (January 19 e-mail).
While it's wonderful that Dean wants to amend this terrible bill to make it less onerous, the persistent might still wonder: why was the bill ever written in the first place? It seems a rather peculiar way to handle business, to jump onto a horrible piece of legislation and then hope to God it gets amended into something palatable before it passes.
This is the Politics of Appeasement the Republicans mistake for leadership.
The bill in its current form reads: "18-12-111. Unlawful purchase of firearms. (1) Any person who knowingly purchases or otherwise obtains a firearm on behalf of or for transfer to a person who is ineligible to possess or purchase a firearm pursuant to federal or state law commits a class 3 felony." Currently, all minors are ineligible to purchase guns. There are no exceptions listed within the bill.
HB-1214 is sponsored by Representatives Decker, Dean, Gordon, Lee, McKay, Scott, Sinclair, Stengel, Swenson, Bacon, Hefley, King, May, Williams S., and by Senator Sullivant.
First Amendment Under Attack, Too
The right to free speech implies to right to purchase the means of presenting one's ideas. In other words, the right isn't worth the paper it's printed on, if it doesn't allow one to print on paper and otherwise propagate one's thoughts.
Yet campaign limitation laws prevent people from spending money to spread their ideas. As with the assault on the Second Amendment, the Democratic Party is leading the charge in violating rights, and the Republican Party is playing catch-up with "me-too" laws which are only slightly less onerous.
The January 18 Rocky Mountain News reports, "Common Cause and the League of Women Voters on Monday blasted House Speaker Russell George's bill because it sets a $10,000 limit on contributions in the governor's race and allows a corporation, union or individual to contribute up to $20 million to a political party during the two-year election cycle" (page 12A). The more restrictive bill favored by those groups is sponsored by Ron Tupa and limits donations to $1,000.
There's a modern-day parable House Speaker Russell George might remember next time he wants to play the Politics of Appeasement. A wealthy man asks a proper, Christian woman, "Would you sleep with me for ten million dollars?" The woman replied, "TEN MILLION DOLLARS! I suppose a moment's worth of sin would be worth that." Then the man asked, "Well, then, would you sleep with me for a hundred dollars?" Indignant, the woman replied, "WHAT do you think I am?!" Calmly, the man retorted, "We've already established what you are. Now we're just bargaining over the price." Since politics seems to dull the moral sensibilities of some, I'll explain: dollar amounts and details aren't nearly so important as the general principles involved.
For more background on the issue of campaign restriction laws, see a set of articles published by the Report last year at http://www.freecolorado.com/cfrfeb1999/campaign.html.
Gordon Blames the People for Legislature's Faults
But Gordon has it all wrong (again). If legislators would abide by the Second Amendment, there wouldn't be any need for a gun lobby. If legislators didn't interfere with individuals' rational planning with zoning laws and anti-building laws, there wouldn't be a real estate development lobby. If government would keep its damning hands out of health care, HMOs probably wouldn't even exist (in their current form anyway), much less have political power.
Most people are excellent at running their own lives but terrible at running the lives of others. And politics is the art of running other peoples' lives. It's a healthy sign that people don't put much stock in the political process.
An appropriate retort to Gordon would be, "Don't complain about people's political apathy when politicians have totally corrupted the American system of government."
Hold On To Your Firearms!
Ironically, on the same day, Senator Gloria Tanner spoke about the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King -- a legacy spurred by King's encouragement of illegal behavior -- in particular the insistence of a black woman to sit in a bus seat in violation of the local statutes.
I guess libraries will also have to block sites about Gandhi, who, after all, broke the law in making salt, which the English were monopolizing and taxing heavily.
Of course the Declaration of Independence must be banned! If any document encouraged illegal behavior, it is this Declaration, which encouraged armed revolt against the lawfully empowered English King! Certainly government librarians will have their hands full.
The Random House dictionary defines civil disobedience as "the refusal to obey certain governmental laws or demands for the purpose of influencing legislation or government policy." From the Boston Tea Party to Henry David Thoreau's tax protests to King's marches, American history is inextricably woven with "illegal behavior."
In the wake of the Columbine killings, political knees are jerking with such violence as to impair clear vision and rational thinking.
The bill as originally written discussed material "that is obscene or illegal." That language is more clear and possible to enforce. The bill is now headed to the Appropriations Committee.
Fourth Amendment Restraining Devices
Today that committee voted to repeal the language that prevents police from pulling over drivers merely for breaking the seat-belt law. Graciously, the committee added language that supposedly prevents police from searching a car or its occupants merely because of a seat-belt violation.
Of course, if the police officer pulls you over because he thinks he saw you not wearing your seat-belt, he can then find "probable cause" to search you on any number of spurious grounds.
The road to hell may be paved with good intentions, but at least people will be wearing their seat-belts while along for the ride.
Senator Threatens Right to Bear Arms
Senator Rob Hernandez (D-Denver) introduced legislation that would require honest-citizen background checks on every gun sale in Colorado, even those involving the transfer of a gun between friends. Hernandez' SB 89 would also make state law reflect the federal prohibition denying lawful adults ages 18-21 their civil rights to buy handguns.
Of course Hernandez' bill will die, but the very brazenness of the Senator's anti-constitutional act demonstrates that every time gun owners compromise, the disarmament lobby will raise the ante.
Education (in Government Control)
John Andrews has blurry vision when it comes to seeing the line separating church and state -- with his SB 114 he wants to require government schools to post the Ten Commandments, which of course demand obedience to the Judeo-Christian God. Andrews had it right before when he called for the separation of school and state, which would permit each school to post or refrain from posting the Ten Commandments (or any other document) as it saw fit.
Civil Rights Hypocrisy
Gordon Blames the People
House Minority Leader Ken Gordon, D-Denver, chastising [sic] citizens who fail to vote or are unaware of their legislative candidates or ballot issues.
However, the real disgrace is the behavior of most politicians, who have usurped states' rights, trampled individual rights, and created a bloated government that taxes around 50% of the peoples' wealth. Americans deserve the heritage of freedom and individual rights established by the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, they don't deserve modern power-mongers like Ken Gordon.
While it is true that more people should actively participate in the cause of establishing freedom, today many refuse to vote because they refuse to pretend modern American politics is anything but a sham. With many Republicans and Democrats alike desecrating Constitutional standards, perhaps Gordon should look in the mirror next time he wants to cast blame for public cynicism.
Fairbank Drops Criminal Negligence
Dudley Brown, Executive Director of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, and Clarence Lovell, a former NRA board member, both opposed the bill. Fairbank at first tried to draft a bill that expanded criminal negligence to guns and many other tools and items, but in a January 7 interview he expressed dissatisfaction with the language of the bill.