Hickenlooper shoots himself in foot in gun-control meeting with sheriffs

It’s true that a picture can be worth 1,000 words of explanation. That’s why when I think of the last two weeks that Gov. John Hickenlooper has had, I picture the cartoon genius Wiley E. Coyote sitting dazedly with little imaginary birds circling his head after he has somehow maneuvered himself under a falling anvil, safe, cannonball, etc.

The image seems appropriate, not just because it captures a state of mind but because the governor’s problems, like Mr. Coyote’s, are self-inflicted.

It’s unclear why the governor on June 13 decided to dive back into the disastrous gun-control debate from last year’s legislative session at a meeting of the county sheriffs of Colorado, but the governor seemingly decided to take the bull by the horns and throw himself onto them.

When asked at the meeting about his support for the measures, Hickenlooper helped everyone’s understanding with an expletive. According to a Facebook post by Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith that was included in a Denver Westword article, after Smith pressed the governor on the matter, Hickenlooper replied, “I’ve already apologized” and then asked Smith what the **** else he wanted.

The governor also made everyone feel a lot better by telling the sheriffs that he had felt that the bill limiting magazine sizes would never make it to his desk.

According to The Denver Post, he told the group, “To be honest, no one in our office thought it would get through the legislature.”

He then soothed the nerves of those concerned about his lack of engagement by indicating that he went along with the bill after “one of my staff had committed us to signing it ... Once you give your word, or someone who works for you gives your word for you – someone who has a responsibility and the ability to do that – generally you try not to go back on that.”

He apparently had a moment of direct involvement or something, because he said that he had a tipping point when “a couple of police officers, including the police chief in Denver, all said this is the way police officers die is these kids go around with these high-capacity magazines.”

I doubt any statistics support that, but I’m sure this is great news to all the sheriffs assembled, as approximately 40 of them had been trying to get his attention during this bill’s consideration to urge him not to sign it.

Even more reassuring was his statement that after he had signed the bill his staff went and got some facts that he “should’ve had from the beginning.”

Among those facts: A large number of high-capacity magazines were already in the state, and only the new magazines were banned.  That belatedly led to the concern, “How’s a police enforcement officer going to tell which is the old one?”

He also appeared to agree with one of the sheriffs who said he thought the law was unenforceable.

Moving right along, Weld County Sheriff John Cook asked the governor why he didn’t listen to the sheriffs as much as he did New York Mayor Bloomberg. Hickenlooper said that he hadn’t spoken to Bloomberg. “Well, let’s, let’s stick to the facts. I never talked to Mayor Bloomberg. I … Again, that’s been out in the press and all this stuff.”

A couple of days later the reporting website Complete Colorado obtained the governor’s phone records to show that he had talked to Bloomberg while the gun-control debate was going forward.

On June 16 Eric Brown, the governor’s spokesman, said that “the governor often jokes about his ability to put his foot in his mouth because he does. It is well-established Gov. Hickenlooper spoke with Mayor Bloomberg.”

Hickenlooper later said that when he spoke to Bloomberg it was after he had already made up his mind on the bill and that Bloomberg wasn’t trying to lobby him.

For the record, the governor has since said that he doesn’t believe the law to be unenforceable and that he would sign it again.

This is a complete mess. There are more goofy remarks to reference, but I just don’t have the space. It is a probable conclusion that Hickenlooper did not realize what a firestorm his signing of these bills would ignite.

Why is he so out of touch? Hard to say, but more and more it seems as though Hickenlooper is the governor of Denver and, except for photo opportunities, that’s about it.

Rick Wagner writes more about politics on his blog, The War on Wrong.


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