The Democrat sweep of elections for state legislatures and governors, even more than taking the US House of Representatives, is proving to be a threat to the rights of gun owners. Democrats in state governments, intoxicated with their recently acquired power to legislate without “interference” from Republicans, are seeking to limit the rights of gun owners. Typical of these are Red Flag Bills and excessive background checks beyond the requirements of current Federal law.
Some bills are serious threats to our rights as gun owners under the US Constitution second, fourth, and fourteenth amendments. The threat is serious enough that many county sheriffs and some municipal governments are announcing the laws are unconstitutional and won’t be enforced. All public officials are required to swear or affirm that they will support the US Constitution. Those refusing to enforce an unconstitutional law are at least as defensible as appointed officials refusing to follow an illegal order.
This is occurring in several states. In particular Colorado and New Mexico.
RINOs Oppose Gun Owner Rights for Political Expediency
One of the pathetic things that occurred in the 2018 elections in Colorado is Republican candidates endorsing the Red Flag Gun Confiscation bill. It was originally introduced last year in the legislature. A Republican legislator was even one of the sponsors. Candidates in Arapahoe County, a swing county in suburban Denver had the sponsoring legislator, an incumbent Sheriff, and a Congressional candidate running as Republicans coming out in support of the Red Flag bill. Of course, it was AFTER their Republican Party nominations were secure and delegates could not pick someone else.
In addition, the Republican District Attorney from that area, George Brauchler, who was running for Colorado Attorney General not only endorsed the bill; he helped to write it. Again, that came out after he was safely nominated.
These Republican candidates were selected by caucus and faced no primary opponents. Only one candidate for governor in the Republican Primary came out immediately against the bill. Others put their fingers in the wind to see which way it was blowing. Most came out against it because they had primary opponents in a Republican primary. They were clearly more motivated by election prospects than by a visceral rejection of gun seizure laws.
Appeasing Gun Haters Fails for Republicans
All of these Republicans running against Democrats were defeated in the election. This, of course, is not solely due to their support of the Red Flag bill. Obviously, Donald Trump was an issue in this election. Democrats could run against him without having their own flawed presidential candidate who would alienate voters. With any luck, having a flawed real Democrat candidate will remind people why Trump isn’t really that bad compared to the alternatives. This will benefit conservative candidates in 2020.
These RINOs thought that they might get enough Democrat votes in a very tough election if they trimmed on principle. They hoped Republicans would vote for them because they still weren’t as bad as Democrats.
Some of these officials genuinely supported this bill, but they knew it is unacceptable to Republican voters. The evidence: their silence on the issue until their nominations were secure. As a delegate to the Republican assemblies, I was infuriated by the deceit of these RINOs. If this issue had been out before the assembly votes took place, these candidates would have been opposed. Colorado Republican political activists are unlikely to support someone openly against gun owner civil rights.
Stand on Principles – and Articulate Them
The lesson is not that Republicans who stand up for their principles will get elected and those that don’t will not. The lesson is that compromising on principles will not get Republicans elected. It is better to win or lose standing for Republican principles than to abandon party principles and the voters from your party.
Conservatives need to win elections, but running for election advocating against conservative principles is not really a victory. We won’t have a mandate for conservative policies in government if our candidates don’t run on conservative principles. Victory must be achieved by saying how our policies benefit everyone – not just particular interest groups. We need to tailor our message based on our audience – not tailor our principles.
Douglas County Sheriff Spurlock: GOP Problem
A Republican office holder who ran unopposed in 2018 supported the Red Flag bill is Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock. Douglas County is a Republican stronghold. He kept his support of the Red Flag bill concealed until he was assured of the nomination and of no other candidates in the general election. If a Libertarian or a Constitution Party candidate had run against him, he would have either have continued to conceal his support of this bill until after the election or Douglas County would have its first third party sheriff. He might have even lost to a Democrat if the Democrat was clever enough to oppose the bill!
This Sheriff should be challenged and defeated soundly in the Republican Party caucuses and assembly if he is not successfully recalled. His excuse is that his officers were casualties of a gunman who he thinks would have been disarmed by a red flag bill. However, like with many shooting incidents, the person was already known to police through prior incidents that could have resulted in an arrest but did not. Also, issues were raised about inadequate training and leadership provided by the Sheriff are issuwhich may have led to deadly mistakes responding to the shooter.
Solving Problem Before the Next Election
The Douglas County Commissioners, all Republicans, have recently passed a resolution refusing to allocate funds to enforce the Red Flag law, should it pass, because they consider it unconstitutional. The Douglas County Republican Party passed a resolution opposing the bill as an unconstitutional infringement of individual rights, and also criticizing Sheriff Spurlock for his support of the bill. Some Republicans have already set up a committee to petition for a recall of Sheriff Spurlock in July which is the earliest a recall petition can be filed. This is an excellent start for holding Republican elected officials and candidates accountable.
Hold GOP Politicians Accountable
In 2020, one benchmark of whether Republicans will remain relevant and have a chance at success will be how these RINOs are handled. Most Republicans who supported this bill were defeated in elections in 2018 and are trying to put their Red Flag bill support behind them. If they are active participants in the Republican Party and get party support and nominations, then the GOP will alienate those supporting its platform. Forgiving and forgetting is not an option for such an egregious expansion of government power.
During the next several years, most RINOs who supported the Red Flag bill will attempt to shift attention away from this issue. These candidates have already shown they will throw our civil rights under the bus for their own political gain; they have spoiled themselves as reliable public servants. They need to spend at least one election cycle proving their commitment to the GOP platform before they can be put in positions of trust. Specifically, nobody who supported this Red Flag bill should make it to the GOP primary for any office in the next election cycle. Anyone who does is one more nail in the coffin of the Republican Party.
We Need Good Candidates who Believe in Freedom
We must win with candidates who will skillfully articulate and genuinely support our conservative, limited government principles. Otherwise, why bother running them?