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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirMarch 14, 20183min318

Denver Public Schools may have decided to trade weapons for plowshares — it announced last week it would turn down National Rifle Association grants for assorted school programs in the wake of the Parkland, Florida school massacre — but the Second Amendment-friendly, Denver-based Independence Institute is sticking to its guns.

As the Associated Press reported over the weekend:

The libertarian-leaning Independence Institute is one of the top recipients of charitable NRA grants, according to an Associated Press analysis of the NRA Foundation’s public tax records. The think tank received $241,000 from the foundation in 2016, the last year for which data is available. The institute reported receiving a total of $2 million in grants and donations that year.

The size of the Independence Institute’s grant is large enough to make Colorado the state with the fourth largest amount of NRA charitable donations, with $293,000 in grants. That places it only behind two much larger states — California and Texas — and North Carolina, home to Speedway Children’s Charities, which has received the largest NRA donation at $425,000.

The NRA wouldn’t comment for the AP, but the wire service’s findings hardly come as a shocker. As the AP’s Nicholas Riccardi notes in the report:

The Independence Institute has a long history in Colorado politics and is a prominent advocate of gun rights positions. Its research director, Dave Kopel, has written numerous law review articles defending gun rights and filed friend of court briefs supporting firearms owners and groups.

The think tank’s public affairs chief, Mike Krause, seemed downright proud, telling the AP: “It would make sense that America’s oldest civil rights organization, the NRA, would support our work … Indeed, we would like to think we are the most vocal and principled defender of the Second Amendment, and of the human right of self-defense, in Colorado. ”


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Marianne GoodlandMarianne GoodlandMarch 13, 20189min1689

The Trump administration is OK with a ban on bump stocks. The Florida Legislature, despite opposition from the National Rifle Association, last week approved a package of gun control measures, including a ban on bump stocks that increase the firing capacity of normal rifles. Colorado's state Senate is a week away from hearing a bill that would take the same step. But it won't pass here, according to Senate Republican leadership. And they're backed by several gun rights groups that all oppose bump stock bans and which have been generous with Senate Republicans.


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Ernest LuningErnest LuningFebruary 27, 20184min1614

The conservative Washington Free Beacon on Monday pointed out that Democratic congressional candidate Jason Crow works at a high-powered law firm that has lobbied and done legal work for gun interests at the same time he's attacked the "gun lobby" and been calling on U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman to return campaign contributions from the National Rifle Association.


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Joey BunchJoey BunchFebruary 22, 201810min1903

In the wake of a Columbine-style school shooting in Florida last week, Colorado lawmakers again weighed a trio of bills aimed at loosening up the state's gun laws. All three failed on a partisan vote, as they do each year, including one that would have allowed school staff to carry firearms with an existing concealed carry permit.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJanuary 12, 20184min317

Wikipedia reminds us it was the now-forgotten 19th century New York politician Gideon J. Tucker who observed, “No man’s life, liberty or property are safe while the Legislature is in session.”

It’s a sentiment that nowadays draws more applause on the right than the left. And among those whose daily toils include wooing and cajoling lawmakers to swing their way on the issues of the day, the put-down is rarely heard at all. (Obviously.)

Unless it’s the Colorado Union of Taxpayers. Whatever your philosophical take on the long-standing, tax-cutting, TABOR-lovin’, big-government-loathing advocacy group, you’ve got to give it at least grudging credit not only for sticking to its guns — but also for regularly sticking it in the General Assembly’s eye. Hence, CUT’s announcement today of a planned meet-and-greet and debriefing with a couple of sympathetic state lawmakers.

The announcement’s come-on? “Come Hear What They Are Doing to Us This Session!”

We added the boldfaced italics, but there probably was no need for you seasoned #coleg buffs — or for those of you familiar with CUT. In other words, it’ll be the kind of crowd where the old Reagan-vintage line, “We’re from the government, and we’re here to help,” still draws knee-slapping and guffaws.

If you’re game, here’s the rest of the announcement:

Legislative Kick Off

Come Hear What They Are Doing to Us This Session!
 
Senate Champion Vicki Marble and House Champion Tim Leonard
will share their insights on the 2018 Session.   

Where:
Independence Institute
(Free Parking) 
 
When: Thursday, January 25, 2018
Time: 7:00 a.m. 
 
Cost $20, free for paid 2018 membership  
(CUT annual membership $25) 
PO Box 1976, Lyons CO 80540 Taxpayer Hotline 303-494-2400


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJanuary 9, 20183min2164

Periodic opinion page contributor Jimmy Sengenberger, prez of the right-leaning Millennial Policy Center in Denver, says his organization is weighing in on a California court case with potential landmark implications for guns owners.

The center and attorney Joseph G.S. Greelee, a fellow in constitutional studies and firearms policy at the center, filed a friend-of-the-court brief Monday in the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco against a pending California state law that criminalizes possession of 10-round gun magazines and even confiscates the magazines from current owners. The law’s implementation had been halted last year in a lower federal court, and that court’s injunction is now being appealed in by the California attorney general. (Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership and Denver’s Independence Institute are also partnering with the center on the amicus filing in the case, Virginia Duncan, et. al., v. Xavier Becerra.)

Explains Millennial in a press announcement Monday:

…MPC argues vigorously for (the law’s) unconstitutionality.  The Supreme Court has held that the Second Amendment protects arms “in common use.” Magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds are some of the most common arms in the country: tens of millions of Americans own over 100 million of these magazines nationwide. California’s law is extraordinary because it not only bans these extremely popular arms, but it actually confiscates those arms from law-abiding citizens who already own them.

What’s at stake for Millennials? Says the youthful Sengenberger in the announcement:

“As a group focused on the future and representing the interests of young Americans, the Millennial Policy Center has a keen interest in the long-term viability of the constitutionally-protected right to keep and bear arms … Ronald Reagan once said that freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.  We take this seriously, and we will engage in policy debates for freedom, including in the courtroom.”


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirDecember 28, 20175min541

Wednesday’s announcement by the Denver-based Independence Institute that rural Republican rancher, farmer and state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg of Sterling had won the institute’s tongue-in-cheek “Californian of the Year” award landed with thud on the right.

The libertarian-leaning think tank — a sometimes-rogue fellow traveler of GOP causes — cooked up the dubious distinction to mock creeping big government. But Sonnenberg’s selection from among five finalists — the other four qualified as usual suspects, including Boulder Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Polis — caught some conservatives off guard.

Judging by at least one barometer of Colorado conservative sentiment — the right-of-center blog Colorado Peak Politics — the response was more “Huh?” than “Ha!” Wrote Peak’s anonymous blogger:

Usually, we’re on the same page as the Independence Institute … We even chuckled at the Californian of the Year contest the think tank sponsored, but when one of the nominees was Republican state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg we scratched our heads. We thought to ourselves, “well, maybe he just needed to throw a Republican in there to look bipartisan-y.” Then, today, the Independence Institute named Sonnenberg “Californian of the Year.”

Puzzling. As liberal Aurora Sentinel editor Dave Perry noted, “Only accidentally funny because (Sonnenberg) is so reliably conservative.”

So, what was Independence thinking? As our Marianne Goodland reported Wednesday:

Institute President Jon Caldara said nothing (better) exemplifies the California value of making decisions for others than the “massive tax increase” put forward by Sonnenberg and three other lawmakers during the 2017 session, in Senate Bill 17-267, also known as “Sustainability of Rural Colorado.”

The measure was, to say the least, complicated, the product of much legislative wrangling. (Read Goodland’s full report for a recap of its provisions.) Suffice it to say, not everyone, even among Republicans, saw it as a tax hike.

Caldara, on the other hand, takes a less nuanced view, having railed against the policy since its inception in the legislature last spring. Independence’s annoncement thundered:

“This immense Colorado tax increase takes place in the shadow of the historic tax cut from the Republican-led U.S. Congress. We find it telling, yet sad, that Republicans in Washington have more respect for Colorado taxpayers than the state Republican Senate leadership who turned Sonnenberg’s Californian idea into law…”

Peak Politics wasn’t buying it:

We thought for sure that Polis would get the nod. He’s certainly our favorite Californian. Hell, he may even have a vacation house in California for all we know. But Sonnenberg? Nah. No offense to our buddies at Independence Institute, but this had the potential to be super fun and took a very strange turn today.

Go home Independence Institute, you’re drunk.

A fissure opening up on the right? Or, just Independence going rogue again?

Meanwhile, over on the left, Colorado Pols — which delights in dissing Caldara, of course — waved off the entire episode:

Caldara and his ilk are so far from the political mainstream that both sides should just ignore them. Much like the fringe fanatics at the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and the tax-cheat felon who authored TABOR to begin with, giving Caldara’s ongoing nonsense the time of day debases us all.