For as long as Colorado remains purple—in other words, probably forever—our state’s gun issues will never be resoved to everyone’s liking. (The word that describes this predicament is democracy. Perhaps you’ve heard of it.)
A quick recap: In 2013, our Democratic-controlled state legislature passed some laws in the wake of the Aurora theater massacre that restricted various elements of gun ownership and production. Political chaos ensused that cost several Dems their seats and carried over to the 2014 elections. That’s when Republicans re-took control of the Senate and thinned their deficit in the state House, and their newfound strength has prompted them to revisit the laws during this legislative session.
Over the past few weeks, lawmakers have zeroed in on a compromise that would bump the magazine limit enacted in 2013 from 15 rounds to 30 rounds. Although I’ve yet to hear a reasonable explanation for why anyone outside of a military combat zone needs to be able to fire 15 rounds in lethally blinding succession, let alone 30, I’m not a gun person. Nor do I believe that our government, as deeply flawed as it is, might soon be battering down my front door. But I realize there are people with precisely the same rights as I have who think differently, so if they can muster the votes to increase the magazine limit, that’s democracy. If your side doesn’t like it, win the next election.
Just don’t tell any of this to Dudley Brown. The longtime thorn in the side of Colorado politics has deemed that even 30 rapid-fire rounds per magazine isn’t enough. This is in keeping with the “no compromises” stance of his organization, Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO). The difference this time is that he seems to be alienating supporters and detractors alike. Thanks to Brown’s undermining minions in the capitol, the body has spent the past few weeks twisting itself into legislative pretzels that has left even some staunch Second Amendment supporters infuriated at Brown’s divisive ways.
The whole scene would be comical if it didn’t involve a literally life-or-death issue. But the upshot is it’s now making some conservatives and members of the GOP question whether Brown’s years-long Keyser Söze impersonation is coming from a true believer in gun rights, or from someone who’s far more committed to the money his activism earns him than the alleged priniciples behind his supposedly high-minded crusade.
Brown’s influence will always be tied to the number of followers he can recruit—and more importantly, to how disruptive he can convince them to be. But if he keeps aggravating and insulting ostensible allies in government and the media, how long will it take for more of his soldiers to begin to wonder if they’ve been used, manipulated, and fleeced to further one man’s greed far more than they’ve advanced their own inalienable rights?
Follow 5280 editor-at-large Luc Hatlestad on Twitter at @LucHatlestad.