“Senator Gardner, this has to cease. We are begging on the lives of our loved ones, begging on the lives of our family members for you to help this,” Sanders stated in a area surrounded by activists holding indicators saying “gun laws save lives” and “alter gun laws or alter Congress.”
“Soon after so a lot of devastating shootings, now we’re asking Cory Gardner: Join us due to the fact we will need you and you will need us,” Sanders stated at a current press conference calling on the Senate to pass background verify and red flag gun legislation.
The occasion was organized by Everytown for Gun Security and held at the district workplace of Democratic Rep. Jason Crow in Aurora, Colorado, exactly where in 2012 a gunman opened fire in a film theater, killing twelve individuals.
Gun manage advocates argue that the politics of the gun debate have shifted in Colorado and the state is additional prepared to help stricter gun laws just after enduring tragedies like Columbine and Aurora.
But the purple state has also noticed a backlash in the face of new firearm laws and it is not just gun manage advocates placing stress on Gardner.
Gun-rights activists say the Republican senator will spend a value at the ballot box if he supports gun legislation like expanded background checks or a national red flag law — which some Republican lawmakers in Washington have expressed help for — which could aid hold guns out of the hands of people deemed to be a threat to themselves or other folks.
“He’s going to have a difficult reelection, no query and the final point he wants is a fractured base,” Dudley Brown, the president of the National Association for Gun Rights and executive director of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, told CNN in an interview.
Stress on each sides
Gardner is viewed as to be one particular of the most vulnerable Republicans defending a Senate seat in 2020. A crowded field of Democrats, with former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper in the position of frontrunner, is vying to take him on in subsequent year’s common election.
“Supporting red flag would entirely fracture the base,” Brown stated, predicting that if Gardner voted for or publicly came out in help of federal red flag legislation, “he will not win reelection.”
The Gardner campaign did not make the senator accessible for an interview with CNN for this story and did not respond to concerns about regardless of whether the senator would help or oppose expanded background verify or federal red flag legislation if either came up for a vote in the Senate.
Gardner has previously argued that action to address gun violence can’t infringe on constitutional rights.
The senator has also raised concerns about regardless of whether red flag legislation in Colorado is constitutional.
“I feel you could possibly craft a bill to safeguard the Constitution,” Gardner stated in the course of the very same interview in response to a different query about red flag laws, adding, “I never know that you could construct it as they wrote it in 2018 or 2019,” a reference to state legislative proposals.
Brown of the National Association for Gun Rights told CNN that Gardner has told him that he does not help red flag laws.
“He has voiced straight to me and to one particular of the additional prominent sheriffs in the state straight that he is opposed to red flag laws and thinks they are unconstitutional,” Brown stated, adding, having said that, that the senator “did not commit to voting against any precise proposals.”
Weld County, Colorado Sheriff Steve Reams, an outspoken opponent of the state’s red flag law, stated that he has also had a likelihood to speak with Gardner about red flag laws.
“He has created his position clear with me,” Reams told CNN, “he stated he wasn’t supportive of red flag legislation.”
But the sheriff added, “I have not noticed him say that publicly so I can not speak on his behalf. I guess that is anything you’d have to ask Senator Gardner. I never think he’s in help of red flag laws, but your vote is what matters when you happen to be in DC.”
Activists want answers from Gardner on gun legislation
Jessica Price tag, who leads the Aurora group of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, stated that her group has been attempting to meet with Gardner to speak about gun legislation, but has so far been unsuccessful.
“We’ve been attempting to meet with him for rather a when,” Price tag told CNN, adding that they have met with some of the senator’s staffers, but not Gardner himself. “We just have not been in a position to get face-to-face time with him at all,” she stated.
The Aurora Moms group not too long ago convened a Senate candidate forum on gun violence exactly where numerous Democratic Senate contenders showed up. Price tag stated Gardner was invited, but in no way responded.
“We’re disappointed,” Price tag stated, “due to the fact we would like to hear from him.”
A Gardner campaign official told CNN that Gardner not too long ago spoke with numerous members of Moms Demand Action at a Republican picnic in Jefferson County, Colorado at the finish of August.
Price tag hopes that Gardner can be convinced to help background checks and a powerful red flag law at the national level.
“At this point we’re nonetheless sort of at that persuasion stage exactly where we’d like to hope that we could persuade him to vote for some widespread sense gun legislation,” Price tag stated, adding that she and other folks want to meet with the senator “to get some clarification on his stance.”
A coalition of progressive organizations, such as Indivisible groups in the state and ProgressNow Colorado not too long ago organized a bus tour for a cardboard cutout of Gardner nicknamed “Cardboard Cory” in an work to argue that the senator hasn’t been displaying up to public events in the state.
Gardner has hosted or attended additional than 50 events across the state in the course of the month of August, such as roundtable events and parades, according to lists offered to CNN by his senate workplace and campaign.
A spotlight on Colorado more than recess
Gun violence prevention groups have worked to place a spotlight on Gardner more than the August congressional recess.
Former Democratic congresswoman Gabby Giffords, the co-founder of the organization and a gun violence survivor, urged a crowd at a current gun security town hall in Aurora to “be bold, be courageous,” in the fight for stricter gun laws.
Lesley Hollywood, the founder of Colorado gun rights group Rally for Our Rights, stated she believes Gardner is thoughtful and deliberative and will not be pushed into taking a stand one particular way or the other on gun legislation devoid of cautious consideration.
“I like to feel that Cory is a answer-primarily based individual,” Hollywood stated, adding, “We will need to be reading bills and hunting at information and producing informed choices and that is what Cory does.”
She predicted, having said that, that Gardner would not help a federal red flag law due to the fact he would locate it to be unconstitutional.
“He’s going to decide need to we be pushing this on the federal level?” Hollywood stated.
“My guess is he’s going to say no, due to the fact I trust he’s going to dig into this sufficient to comprehend this is harmful legislation.”
The politics of gun manage in Colorado
In the 2018 midterms, Crow flipped a Republican-held congressional district in Colorado when placing the concern of gun security front and center in his campaign.
The Democratic freshman believes that one particular of the takeaways from his election to Congress is that “the tide has shifted” in the state when it comes to the gun debate and there is now stronger help for action to avoid gun violence.
“The traditional wisdom in a district like mine, in a state like Colorado, is you never speak about difficulties like this. I think that was incorrect,” Crow stated, adding, “I never feel a week goes by that I am out in this neighborhood that I never run into parents, teachers, students who come up to me with tears in their eyes telling me they are afraid to go to college, they are afraid to take their youngsters to college. That is the atmosphere we’re now raising our youngsters in. They’ve had sufficient. I’ve had sufficient.”
Coni Sanders, who lost her father in the Columbine shooting, argued that gun violence has grow to be a individual concern to a lot of Coloradans as the state has endured tragedy just after tragedy.
“There are so a lot of individuals impacted by this now that we can not just turn a blind eye,” Sanders stated. “I feel when it comes down to it attitudes are altering due to the fact individuals are realizing that no one is protected.”
But not every person impacted by gun violence supports stricter gun legislation, some oppose additional restrictions.
“For me, it is a quite individual concern. I see that we’ve attempted additional gun manage and all these other distinct approaches year just after year to resolve these mass shootings and none of it is functioning,” stated Patrick Neville, a survivor of the Columbine shooting and the Republican minority leader of Colorado’s Residence of Representatives.
In the state legislature, Neville has fought against tougher gun restrictions, such as the state’s red flag law.
Gun manage supporters argue that if Gardner does not help these policies at the national level he will be out of step with his personal state.
But gun legislation has also sparked intense opposition in the state.
Neville stated that he is optimistic that Gardner would oppose federal background verify or red flag legislation if either had been to come up for a vote in the Senate.
“He’s naturally noticed what is occurred in Colorado,” Neville stated, adding that he is “truly confident he’ll make the appropriate selection and do what is appropriate for our state and the nation.”