Owens "Worse Than Schoettler"

The Colorado Freedom Report:  A libertarian journal of politics and culture.

The Colorado Freedom Report--www.FreeColorado.com

Owens "Worse Than Schoettler"

by Ari Armstrong, January 28, 2000

Republican Governor Bill Owens is "worse than Schoettler" would have been in infringing the right to bear arms, an anonymous caller said today. Owens beat out Democrat Gail Schoettler in 1998 by a margin of only a few thousand votes. Advocates of the right to bear arms would "be much better off if Owens had lost that election." At least Schoettler would have had "no control over the Republican political food chain," the source said.

Owens has been accused of threatening Republican legislators with their political futures unless they support Owens' gun-control package. Owens has called in Republicans who are key votes on gun issues for private meetings. Pressure put on Republican legislators by Owens has been phenomenal.

Owens, along with Democratic Attorney General Ken Salazar, advocated several new infringements of the right to bear arms, including raising the age to purchase handguns at gun shows to 21, expanding honest-citizen background checks at gun shows, and expanding the authority of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to deny permission to buy a gun from a licensed dealer based on incomplete arrest records.

Before the legislative session began this year, Owens assured Republican leaders he wouldn't strongly push his gun-control proposals, but would instead permit Republican supporters of civil gun rights to vote against those laws without pressure. Now Owens has changed his tune.

The NRA has defended Owens publicly to date. That support may be starting to crack. This Report's source likened the situation to a relationship on the rocks, in which the NRA had hoped to smooth over differences and foster reconciliation. Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, the state affiliate of Gun Owners of America, on the other hand, went into "war mode" against Owens since his first endorsements of new gun-controls, and indeed even before Owens' election. In retrospect, RMGO made the more accurate assessment of Owens.

Immediately after the Columbine shooting, Owens vetoed a bill that would have stopped politicized law suits against firearms manufacturers by city governments. This year, Owens has threatened to veto Lauri Clapp's HB-1208, a similar tort reform measure which passed the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee January 25. Owens has also threatened to veto any concealed carry legislation. Lynn Hefley's bill 1289, which would prevent localities from violating Coloradans' Constitutional rights to bear arms, passed the House State Affairs Committee January 25 as well -- then Owens ordered that bill killed. "Owens is the single greatest obstacle to pro-gun legislation in Colorado," the source said. The biggest problem is Bill Owens, not Bill Clinton or Democratic State Senator Pat Pascoe.

Owens' point-man on gun-control is Aristedes Zavaras, appointed by Owens to head the Colorado Department of Public Safety after Zavaras took disability leave from the Denver police. While head of the Denver Police, Zavaras denied concealed carry permits across the board, even though he has since obtained his own permit to carry a concealed handgun for self-defense. When the city of Denver outlawed so-called "assault weapons," Zavaras testified that such guns are used widely by criminals. However, research found that out of over 1200 guns confiscated by Denver police, only 14 met the definitions of an "assault" weapon, and only one of those guns had actually been used in the commission of a crime.

Zavaras was appointed by Democratic Governor Roy Romer before taking his job under Owens. This anti-gun zealot from the Romer administration is now Owens' lead man on gun control.

Owens may have already written off his base of gun-rights supporters. When discussing the criticism he faced, Owens said of gun owners, "What are they going to do -- vote Democratic?" (The Denver Post, August 23, 1999) Shortly thereafter, The Colorado Freedom Report ran an article by this author quoting several gun owners who said they would indeed vote against Owens (http://www.freecolorado.com/cfrsept1999/polsuicide.html). In a survey from late last year, 57 out of 61 Colorado gun owners who voted for Owens in 1998 said they'd vote against Owens in the future if he signed any gun-control legislation (http://www.freecolorado.com/2000/01/cogunowners.html). In 1998, Libertarian Candidate Sandra Johnson earned more votes than Owens' margin of victory. The Libertarian Party has been actively reaching out to gun owners dissatisfied with Owens' record.

Next Thursday, February 3, members of RMGO and the Libertarian Party along other gun rights advocates will lead a civil rights march to Governor Owens' mansion to protest his actions. The march will start at 7th and Logan in Denver at 7:00 pm. Brown urges participants to dress and act respectably (and certainly to not challenge Denver's disarmament laws).

Bill Owens regards the right to keep and bear arms with contempt.

The Colorado Freedom Report--www.FreeColorado.com