Mass death is a policy trade-off that we just keep making

Overwhelmingly due to Republicans, of course, but, the point is that it is absolutely a policy choice. Great stuff from Tim Miller:

That reality is: This mass murder could have been prevented, but political leaders in Colorado Springs let it happen. They made a conscious choice that the lives of unarmed victims are less important than a lunatics’ right to acquire firearms. 

This is not hyperbole. I do not mean it in the esoteric “we all share responsibility” sense or as a broad critique of gun culture. I’m not even talking about the uptick in hateful rhetoric targeting the LGBT community which we’ve seen over the last few years and the impact it may have had on an attack on a drag show. 

I’m talking specifically about the existing laws in Colorado that were ignored by local officials.

In January 2020, Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill instituting Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO), which are commonly known as “red flag” laws. The ERPOs allow for temporary removal of firearms from people who are considered at risk of committing a violent act against themselves or others. Per the law, they can be initiated either by a family member or local police who then petition the court for review.  

In November, 2018 a poll showed that Coloradoans backed “red flag” laws overwhelmingly with 81 percent in favor and just 14 percent opposed. Polis, the guy who signed the law, was just reelected in a landslide, holding his opponent to under 40 percent of the vote. 

Yet despite the law’s widespread popularity and the fact that it does not in any way threaten the rights of law-abiding gun owners, 37 of the state’s 64 counties declared some form of “2nd Amendment Sanctuary” wherein the local police have refused to enforce the law. Among those “sanctuary” jurisdictions is El Paso County, home to Colorado Springs, and site of the Club Q massacre…

That 0-fer is how we find ourselves in a situation where the perpetrator of a mass murder was able to legally purchase firearms (and keep them) despite being arrested just last year after he made a bomb threat thatled to a standoff at his mother’s home…

And here, from the Colorado Springs Gazette, is video of that encounter that he live streamed to Facebook. You can see him wearing tactical gear and calling cops “fucking shitheads.” He goes on to say  “If they breach, I’mma fucking blow it to holy hell. So, uh, go ahead and come on in, boys, lets fucking see it.” 

That’s right, this motherfucker had a standoff with local police where he threatened to blow them to bits.1

As a result of this incident, neighbors were evacuated from their homes. His mother, who was scared enough to call the cops, moved out of the house where she had been renting a room. And the perpetrator was charged with several crimes including kidnapping. 

But then, earlier this year, the charges were dropped, and the case file was sealed by the (Republican) district attorney’s office. Poof. 

What we have here is the most obvious case for an Extreme Risk Protection Order imaginable. His mom was afraid of him! He threatened violence against the police! 

Even if this is all a big misunderstanding, any reasonable police department would, as a  precautionary matter, want a judge to at least review whether a dude cosplaying as a cop killer in full tactical gear should have access to semi-autos. After all, Blue Lives Matter.

Not in El Paso County. 

Instead, Republican elected officials and the sheriff’s office decided that they wouldn’t even consider petitioning for such a protection. Because of their “principles.” These ideologues decided that a deranged murderer’s right to an AR-15 had primacy over state law and the interests of the people they serve and the lives of the victims whose bodies now lie cold.

The fact that this man could legally buy a gun is just beyond insane.  America’s gun laws (and enforcement are so broken.  Day after day Americans die and countless lives are shattered on this unholy alter of “2nd amendment!” and “responsible” gun ownership.  

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

One Response to Mass death is a policy trade-off that we just keep making

  1. R. Jenrette says:

    Well said. The sanctification of the last words of the Second Amendment started the ball rolling toward today’s insanity.

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