Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper took a lot of heat from fellow Democrats in the wake of the Aurora shooting tragedy for keeping a cool head and not caving to immediate demands for suppressing Second Amendment rights at a politically opportune moment. At the same time, he earned some additional credentials from conservatives for being a fairly independent minded executive. After the latest dose of mayhem from another maniac, however, the local press seemed to catch him reconsidering his position.
In a significant shift from his statements earlier this year, Gov. John Hickenlooper now says “the time is right” for Colorado lawmakers to consider further gun restrictions.
The Democratic governor made his comments in an interview with The Associated Pressthat comes less than half a year after the mass shooting in an Aurora movie theater that killed 12 and injured at least 58. His latest words also follow a shooting in an Oregon mall Tuesday that left three dead, including the gunman, who shot himself.
“I wanted to have at least a couple of months off after the shooting in Aurora to let people process and grieve and get a little space, but … I think, now … the time is right,” Hickenlooper said in the Wednesday interview.
Actually, I’ve previously maintained that this is precisely the wrong time to leap all over this. It smacks of being an opportunistic approach and capitalizes on the emotions of a grief stricken public to begin tossing out and debating gun grabbing arguments right now. But that genie is clearly out of the bottle and interesting facts are already emerging. As with previous tragedies, the sad patterns we’ve seen before are playing out yet again. The guns used by the maniac in question were legally purchased by his mother – one of the victims of the shooting – and taken without her consent. The shooter was a legal adult, apparently having no significant criminal record which would have warranted blocking his access in any event. The family seems to have had more than their share of trouble and turmoil, but that can be said of far too many families in America. Some are also reporting that the young man had a history of “mental problems” which you can also find in every corner of the nation. Friends are describing him as, “quiet and not very social,” but not giving any indication that he might be prone to violence. Unless more details prove otherwise, this was, in short, the almost completely unpredictable result of the actions of an evil madman who had given no actionable signals before his horrific assault.
Let’s stop and think for a moment about how the shooter got these guns. He took them from someone else who legally obtained them. He stole those guns. And this, of course, demonstrates yet again that those who are willing to employ guns to engage in violence aren’t going to pause and think about whether or not they should commit a robbery along the way. To stop an action like that which we witnessed yesterday you would have to eliminate the existence of guns, and we’ve all seen the figures on how well that works.
And let’s not forget that Connecticut already has some of the toughest gun laws in the country.
So is Hickenlooper caving to the pressures of the far left wing of his party? That’s not clear yet.
Reached while traveling Thursday, the governor told The Denver Post, “I don’t think I flip-flopped at all. The AP was asking, ‘Should we have that discussion (about gun restrictions)?’ I said, ‘Sure. This is not a discussion that a free, open society should be afraid of,’ ” he said.
In that respect perhaps the Governor is right, at least in terms of the timing of the conversation. Generally, conservatives urge calm and quiet after one of these random acts of domestic violence and mayhem, preferring time for empathy and prayers for the victims and those affected by the tragedy. Conversely, gun grabbers seize the moment for their own devices. (In case you missed it, Allahpundit’s Quotes of the Day last night contains a robust roundup of what the grabbers in question are saying already.) These events shouldn’t be a reason for people to shy away from defending their own freedoms, while still maintaining the proper respect and empathy for those lost. And in a free nation, we can have this type of debate, no matter how painful the circumstances.
Would it be nice to wait until the bodies were laid to rest and the tears of the mourning were dry? No doubt. But the debate will happen either way. And we shouldn’t be too quick to judge Hickenlooper in this. The real message will be delivered when we see what sort of legislation is proposed in his state in the weeks and months to come and how he responds. We should be willing to allow his actions to speak louder than his words as we continue to pray for the fallen.