End of Session, bad bill dead

Thankfully, HB1410 is dead

May 7, 2002 -

Finally, at midnight last night, the Colorado Legislature adjourned. Our State Constitution limits the session to 120 days, so any legislation still left on the table is considered dead.

Our emergency e-mail - and your corresponding calls to the Capitol -- yesterday morning was crucial in stopping the Step Backward bill, HB1410, and its monstrous child, SB229. SB229 was a harmless housekeeping bill, which was amended to include the same language as HB1410 late on Tuesday night.

Capitol hill staffers, who bear the brunt of the phone calls, reported to RMGO staff that their phones rang of the hook with RMGO activists who wanted to defeat HB1410's poor concealed carry language and come back next year with a much better bill. Those phone calls solidified the opposition of Senate conservatives against the issue, and may just have sent the message to legislative moderates that conservatives won't vote for any bill just because it has "concealed carry" in the title.

Fortunately, SB229 never saw a vote in the Senate. This was due in large part to Senate Majority Leader Bill Thiebaut's refusal to allow a vote, as well as the conservatives who made it known that they weren't going to support a bad bill. In other words, had SB229/HB1410 made it to the Senate floor, it likely would have died anyway.

Many legislators - and the NRA - failed to live by the Hippocratic oath: First, do no harm. A bill that removed the existing rights of current citizens would have been a violation of the Hippocratic oath.

Instead, they crafted a bill based on political necessity - many politicians simply wanted the cover to look pro-gun in the next elections, especially our Governor - that conceded many of battles we have been fighting for years.

The creature of this necessity was Senate Bill 60, and its even worse creation, House Bill 1410. NRA lobbyists knew quite well early in the session what they are admitting in the papers now - that a much better bill is likely to pass next year - but the NRA's intention was to give Gov. Owens help at regaining the gun owners' votes he lost after endorsing Amendment 22. What good would a bill be in 2003, after the election?

In the end, it may not matter: the NRA will endorse Gov. Owens, when "he's the lesser of two evils" will be their claim, perhaps followed by "We can't have a Democrat, can we?". What Gov. Owens probably won't learn, due largely to a weak Democrat opponent, is the lesson that George H. W. Bush learned in 1992: they might vote for you, but after you've burned your base they won't work hard and they won't spend hours over the kitchen table convincing their neighbors to vote for you.

No amount of NRA cajoling will fix that -- gun owners in Colorado aren't going to let Owens live this one down for quite a while, and shouldn't.

The best attitude to the Governor's reelection should be "You might win reelection this year, but you won't get my help doing it."

What now? First, there are elections all across the state, on virtually every level. Get deeply involved in these elections, using very specific criteria for your support.

Which candidates should you support? RMGO will publish the results of our candidate survey, but as of now they are incomplete. Therefore, we'll post our actual legislative survey for you to print out. With this in hand, you can ask candidates to put their name on the dotted line on very specific gun issues. Our suggestion is to only spend your valuable time helping candidates who answer the survey, and answer it 100% -- after all, there are simply too many races and too little time to spend helping 90 percenters.

The convention process, which is happening right now, is the perfect place to promote our agenda. Go to these events, even if you are not a delegate, and gather together with other gun rights supporters to put pressure on every politician. You'd be surprised how many people will join with you when they see you putting on the heat - you'll also be surprised by the number of people who are involved in politics and who do not care about issues.

If getting a concealed carry permit is a concern of yours, please hang tight: we are working on a short term solution to this problem and will announce it when we have that solution.

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