GOP Congressman Representing Columbine and Aurora Nearly Booed Off Stage at Town Hall

News & Politics

The tide is turning on the idea of sensible gun law reforms and nobody got that message more clearly than Republican Rep. Mike Coffman from Colorado’s 6th District, which happens to encompass two of the most tragic mass shooting locations in the nation—Columbine and Aurora. Coffman represents a district that Hillary Clinton won in 2016 and his seat is one of many at play for Democrats in 2018. 

Coffman hosted a town hall in Greenwood Village, Colorado, and from the first moment when he offered “thoughts and prayers” for Stoneman Douglas victims and survivors, the crowd began to rage:

Grumbling and jeers met the request for a moment of silence for the 17 people killed last week in the Florida school shooting.

“Let’s do something for them!” one man yelled at the beginning of Republican Rep. Mike Coffman’s town hall Tuesday night in Greenwood Village. Another participant cried out, “We’re done with thoughts and prayers!”

While Coffman tried to tap dance around actually getting something done, the boos continued to rain down.

Sharp questions about guns dominated the hourlong town hall. Coffman said he was willing to discuss “reasonable restrictions within the parameters of the Second Amendment,” a statement that drew fierce boos from the crowd. He repeatedly declined to back an assault-weapons ban but said he’d consider “red flag” laws that would allow the temporary confiscation of firearms from those judged to be a threat to themselves or others.

He spent much of his time defending some of his previous votes, including for a bill last year to require states to accept concealed-carry permits from other, less-regulated states and another for a bill rolling back an Obama administration rule confiscating guns from people judged not competent enough to manage their Social Security benefits. Coffman contended it was a civil rights issue and noted the American Civil Liberties Union and disability rights groups supported the rollback, a statement that also drew hearty boos.

“I cannot understand how somebody who represented the district that has the Aurora theater in it can say this is a bad idea,” Alex Tillman, 48, who works in risk management, told Coffman.

Coffman told the crowd his solution to children being mass murdered was not necessarily common sense reforms, he wants armed guards at every school. From the Washington Post:

“We live in an imperfect world,” he told one questioner as the crowd erupted in jeers. “There is no way that you can say, no matter what laws you pass, that bad things are not going to happen.”

Sparking another uproar, he mused, “Why do we give more protection for any federal building than we do for a school? . . . Force has to be met with force.”

As WaPo notes, Coffman has a much tougher challenger this year than in past elections. And he’s someone quite familiar with guns.

National Democratic Party officials also think they have a better challenger this year. After three straight state legislators failed to unseat Coffman, they have thrown their support behind Jason Crow, a lawyer and former Army Ranger officer making his first run for office.

“What the Donald Trump presidency has done is it’s forced him to take the votes on his politics,” said Crow, who leads in fundraising among several Democratic candidates but must win a June 23 primary. “After a year of that he’s got a 95 percent voting record with this administration and with (Speaker) Paul Ryan. That’s not somebody standing up to anybody.”

Crow is backing several changes to gun laws, ranging from eliminating the congressional prohibition on federal gun violence research to mandating universal background checks to banning “military-style” weapons like the AR-15 rifle used in Florida. And he is calling on Coffman to cut his long-standing ties to the National Rifle Association.

Is Coffman going to be a crushed in the 2018 blue wave? Only if Democrats turn out. If you live in Colorado’s 6th district, it’s go time!

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