DENVER – Colorado Republican U.S. Senate candidates say now is not the time to discuss gun control, despite the recent mass shooting in Orlando.
U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, the Democrat the Republican candidates hope to unseat this November, joined a Democratic-led filibuster last week in the Republican-controlled Senate, where he spoke of a need to close loopholes associated with purchasing weapons.
The debate revolves around the early Sunday morning Orlando massacre, where 49 people were killed in a nightclub by a gunman who had been investigated by the FBI. The weapons carried by the gunman were legally purchased.
“Is there anybody who is going to come to the floor of the United States Senate and say that Colorado is worse off because we’ve kept guns out of the hands of murderers, or kidnappers, or rapists,” said Bennet, referring to universal background checks in Colorado.
“This isn’t mythical. This is the actual fact of what’s going on in a Western state that has background checks. Nobody here can come here and argue that we’re not safer because these people who shouldn’t have a gun don’t have a gun.”
The nearly 15-hour filibuster ended early Thursday after Republicans agreed to allow votes on two proposed gun control measures.
Votes would be held on whether to ban people on the government’s terrorist watch list from obtaining gun licenses and whether to expand background checks to gun shows and internet sales.
But Republican U.S. Senate candidates don’t believe the recent incident is cause for a conversation over extended gun restrictions.
“That is not what we should be talking about right now,” said former state Rep. Jon Keyser of Morrison. “We should not be talking about gun control, because guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens make this country safer. To people who are saying that we need more laws, or more rules, I guess I would just respond with Paris, Brussels – these are places where it’s very difficult to get weapons.”
“What happened in Orlando this weekend was horrific but lawmakers shouldn’t consider new gun restrictions in a knee-jerk reaction to this tragic event,” added former Aurora city councilman Ryan Frazier. “Enacting new, more restrictive gun legislation isn’t the answer to preventing these tragedies. We must address the problems with our current laws and system.”
“The Democrats use every tragic event out there to go after the Second Amendment rights that are God-given rights, and those rights should not be infringed upon,” opined El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn.
Former Colorado State University athletic director Jack Graham said Democrats – especially President Barack Obama – are too afraid to address “radical Islamic terrorists” in the wake of the most recent terror event.
“President Obama ... continues to be unwilling to say the words ‘radical Islamic terrorists,’ or ‘Islamic jihadists.’ I disagree with him firmly,” Graham said. “That’s what they are, they are radical Islamic terrorists, they are Islamic jihadists.”
The Orlando incident appears to have been tied to homegrown terrorism, as the 29-year-old shooter was born in New York. While he pledged allegiance to foreign terrorist groups, a direct connection between the shooter and those groups has not been confirmed.
Colorado Springs businessman Robert Blaha, also running in the June 28 Republican Senate primary, said he will never waver when it comes to gun rights.
“I call it the great equalizer,” Blaha said of the Second Amendment. “It stands ready to help Americans safeguard their liberty.”