WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama’s plan to expand background checks and enact other measures to combat gun violence through executive actions drew mixed reviews Tuesday from Colorado politicians.
Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., said Obama had taken “divisive, unilateral action” that infringed upon the rights of gun owners.
“Executive orders cannot, and should not, stand in place of the Constitution,” Gardner said. “The desire on the part of the president to govern the entire country based on his own whims is dangerous. I empathize with the desire of many to do something about recent incidences of violence in our country. But these executive actions would not have prevented many of the tragedies our communities have faced.”
Gardner added that he would continue to urge his colleagues in Congress to take legislative steps to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and to “better enforce the countless regulations on gun ownership already on the books.”
Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, echoed Gardner’s sentiment and added that the legality of the executive actions would be challenged.
“The president’s overreaching proposals to restrict the Second Amendment for law-abiding citizens have already been debated and rejected by the Senate,” Tipton said. “Yet the president is playing politics rather than working with Congress to advance solutions. These executive orders, like many of the president’s previous such actions, will be challenged and likely defeated in the courts.”
But other Colorado politicians were more supportive of the efforts, citing the state’s expanded background checks as an example of how improved safety standards save lives.
“Background checks keep guns out of the wrong hands,” said Gov. John Hickenlooper in a statement soon after the president’s announcement. “In Colorado, expanded background checks prevented more than 27,000 illegal purchases since 2012, including more than 100 denials based on prior arrest or conviction of homicide. The president’s orders are an important step in saving lives across the country.”
Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., has advocated for expanding background checks, and has previously supported similar legislative efforts in the U.S. Senate. Adam Bozzi, a spokesman for Bennet, told The Durango Herald that the president’s executive orders built off of previous efforts but that Congress needed to act further.
“Senator Bennet has voted for the bipartisan Manchin-Toomey bill to require common-sense background checks on most gun sales, like we’ve done here in Colorado,” Bozzi said. “He has also supported efforts to improve the background check system, to prevent criminals and terrorists from purchasing guns, and to increase support for mental health services. The president’s actions today are consistent with these initiatives and Congress still needs to act.”
firstname.lastname@example.org. Edward Graham is a student at American University in Washington, D.C., and an intern for The Durango Herald.