Former Prosecutor Says We Can't Ban Our Way To Safety

A Colorado couple whose daughter was murdered in the Aurora theater shooting in July of 2012 are out with a new op-ed expressing disappointment with the defeat of David Chipman’s nomination as permanent director of the ATF, while encouraging the Biden administration to move forward in enacting new restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms, but on today’s Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co, the former District Attorney who put their daughter’s killer behind bars for the rest of his life shares his own more skeptical take, based in part on years of experience in dealing with violent criminals.

Sandy and Lonnie Phillips avoid using the words “assault weapons” or “gun ban” in their column. Instead, the couple are talking up the idea of the White House creating a couple of new in-house offices to push for gun control efforts.

We urge President Biden to consider the following avenues of action:

Create the Office of Gun Violence Prevention to establish a long-term, sustained effort to reduce gun deaths in America by classifying gun violence as a national security crisis and a public health and safety priority, and make a commitment to cut all forms of gun lethality by 50% by 2026, including suicide, homicide, and unintentional shootings.

Create a National Firearm Injury Prevention Bureau. Thanks to the work of the National Transportation Safety Board, transportation-related death rates have plummeted over the years. Experts have successfully implemented the most effective ways for people to survive hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, and even tsunamis. Our country desperately needs to learn how to design buildings, create floor plans, and devise exit strategies so people can escape public shootings like the mass shooting that claimed our Jessi nine years ago.

Find ways to hold accountable gun manufacturers and sellers who sell guns and ammunition without completed background checks, or who use false advertising to sell firearms.

The Phillips’ also, however, “urge all leaders”, Biden presumably included, to “read the Denver Accord to learn the most effective policies to reduce gun violence.” What’s the Denver Accord? It’s an anti-gun wish list put together by activists back in 2019 that calls for all kinds of new gun control laws, including (but not limited to):

  • a “permit to purchase” law that would allow law enforcement to deny gun purchases even for those who pass a background check.
  • a 7-day waiting period for handgun sales
  • firearms registration
  • mandatory storage requirements
  • a ban on so-called “assault weapons”
  • a ban on 3D-printed firearms
  • mandating public spending to promote “smart guns”

While the Phillips are not alone in their calls to clamp down on the Second Amendment in the name of public safety, the man who prosecuted their daughter’s killer isn’t one of them. I actually conducted my interview with former Arapahoe County D.A. George Brauchler last week before I’d ever learned about the couple’s forthcoming column, but by chance the very first question I posed to him was whether or not his involvement in cases like the Aurora attack had made him rethink his support for the Second Amendment.

“Any normal person would sit there and think ‘Okay, what is that we can take away from this where we could do something that might make a difference in the future,'” Brauchler responded. “But the conclusion that I’ve come to time and again is that there is no change in the law that we have enacted as a result of these that would have prevented the crimes.”

As Brauchler points out, after Aurora shooting, the state legislature in Colorado rushed to ram through several new gun control measures, including a universal background check law and a ban on magazines that can hold more than 15 rounds of ammunition.

“I’m here to tell you, as the guy who lived that Aurora theater massacre case for years, neither of those laws had they existed before the massacre, would have actually prevented that massacre,” Brauchler emphatically told Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co.

“You have a guy who had a crystal clean and crystal clear criminal history who walked into four different gun shops and purchased four different guns legally. He also brought with him to that theater 700 rounds of ammunition and numerous magazines. Had there been a magazine capacity limit in effect then he would have just brought more magazines, but it would have done nothing to prevent that.

So as you go through this as a prosecutor, of course you think to yourself ‘what could we do legislatively that won’t infringe on the Second Amendment but at the same time provide some extra security or prevention,’ and thus far there hasn’t been a thing that we’ve done that would have made a difference to these major crimes.”

We’re going to have Brauchler back on the show before long, because there’s a lot more to talk about from his perspective as a prosecutor, but I would encourage you to check out today’s interview, which delves into the enforcement (or lack thereof) of Colorado’s mag ban and universal background check laws and why the former D.A. doesn’t believe they serve any sort of preventative benefit at all.

While I disagree with their positions, I do understand why some victims of violent crime like the Phillips’ choose to focus on the tool that their daughter’s killer used in the commission of his evil act. I don’t begrudge them their point of view, but it would be a grievous mistake both from a civil rights and public safety perspective for the country at large to adopt their views as our own.  As Brauchler makes clear, in a nation where the right to own a gun is enshrined in our Constitution and exercised by more than 100-million citizens, there’s simply no way that we’re going to ban and arrest our way to safety. Ultimately we have to deal with relatively small number of individuals who would do us and society harm, instead of trying to rid the world of everything they might use against us.