Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times via AP
John Hickenlooper wants to be president. He’s one of a whole lot of Democrats who have entered the 2020 presidential race, and at this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if my cat entered the race, the field has gotten so crowded.
Hickenlooper is touting his accomplishments on gun control to set himself apart from the pack. Unlike most other candidates, he can cite accomplishments beyond introducing bills that won’t go anywhere. Following the theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado in 2013, he signed several gun control bills into law.
What he’s not talking about is something that NBC News of all news organizations opted to look into. Hickenlooper isn’t talking about the backlash that followed.
Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper bills himself as the experienced, consensus-building Democrat in the 2020 presidential race, one who has successfully tackled divisive issues like gun control.
But his signature achievement as governor — a package of gun bills passed in 2013 — was undertaken without any Republican support and exacted great political cost on state Democrats, several of whom were recalled or resigned under threat of being removed from office.Hickenlooper has since expressed serious misgivings about how he handled the issue, publicly pondering whether it was worth it and apologizing to one of the key players in the process — although he still touts it on the campaign trail as one of his major accomplishments.
Their efforts were successful. After vigorous debate — and protests from pro-gun groups and gun-owning Coloradans — Hickenlooper signed three bills into law in 2013.
One, a so-called “high-capacity magazine ban,” limited ammunition magazines to 15 rounds. A second put in place universal background checks for all gun purchases, expanding the checks to sales and transfers between private parties and to online purchases. The third measure required gun purchasers to pay for the background checks.
All three bills passed the state Senate and state House either entirely along party lines or with just one Democrat joining all Republicans in opposition. Four other bills, including an assault weapons ban, did not advance.
Hickenlooper later expressed dismay at the divisions the bills caused, and even hinted that he may not have gone through with signing the legislation if he’d foreseen the consequences.
“If we’d known it was going to divide the state so intensely, I think we probably would’ve thought about it twice,” he told a conference of the County Sheriffs of Colorado in June 2014.
He also apologized for not meeting with the group, which had opposed the bills, during the debate, and said he only signed the high-capacity magazine ban because a staffer had promised state lawmakers he would.
It’s a much longer article, and I encourage you to check it out, even if I know you dislike NBC News.
Now, the article finishes by suggesting that Hickenlooper could somehow make gun control happen at the national level. I think that’s unlikely, but it’s also interesting to recall how angry many Coloradans were after Hickenlooper signed those bills. Perhaps more glaring was Magpul’s decision to pull its business out of the state.
Which made sense, as Magpul made standard capacity magazines, yet couldn’t sell them in its own state. Why would it stick around?
Hickenlooper’s blatantly partisan efforts cost him significantly.
Further, I think it still serves as a warning to Democrats who face a tough fight to hold onto their seats. Backing gun control is a losing proposition, even in this day and age.
I think we also see the duplicitous nature of John Hickenlooper. After all, he wants to play nice and say, “My bad” when it’s convenient and brags about gun control when that is convenient.