Election 2018GunsNews

Wash. Gov. Inslee in Colo. to back gun control, Dem candidates

Author: Marianne Goodland - May 24, 2018 - Updated: May 31, 2018

Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee (D) and House District 37 candidate Tom Sullivan (D) speak about gun control and electing a Democratic governor in November.

Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee spoke at the Colorado Capitol to back gun control efforts and to encourage support for Democratic candidates for governor.

Inslee — chair of the Democratic Governor’s Association, and mentioned by some as a potential 2020 presidential candidate — was joined at Thursday’s event by state Democratic Party chief Morgan Carroll and Tom Sullivan, a gun control advocate who lost a son in the 2012 Aurora theater shooting and is a candidate for a state House seat in Arapahoe County.

Washington state has passed expanded background checks and a “red flag” bill. The measure would have allowed law enforcement to remove firearms from people deemed a risk to themselves or to others.

The Washington legislature also passed a ban on bump stocks in its most recent session.

In Colorado, there was an attempt to pass a red flag bill last session by a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers, district attorneys and law enforcement officials, but it failed in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Inslee — a longtime former congressman now serving his second term as governor — said he feels a kinship with Colorado on issues such as health care, technology and clean energy jobs.

On the gun-violence issue, he said that “all our children are potential victims,” and gubernatorial candidate ought not be afraid to stand up to the gun lobby.

He was especially critical of presumed front-running Republican gubernatorial candidate and current state Treasurer Walker Stapleton, who recently took heat from Fox News for turning down a gun violence debate sponsored by Never Again Colorado, a nonpartisan student-led organization that works on gun violence issues.

“Stapleton is afraid of teenagers with braces,” Inslee said.

While not endorsing any of the four Democratic candidates for Colorado governor, Inslee said that a vote for a Republican candidate is a vote for someone who will be a sycophant to President Donald Trump and one who would follow him “into the sinkhole” of Washington, D.C.

Sullivan is running against House Assistant Minority Leader Cole Wist of Centennial, who sponsored the failed Colorado red flag measure, along with House Assistant Majority Leader Alec Garnett.

It’s created a sticky situation for Sullivan, who angrily said that the legislature should have acted on a red flag bill two years ago instead of waiting for this year. Sullivan also called on parents to lock up their weapons, noting that a majority of school shootings are done by teens who get guns from their parents.

“We can do better,” he said.

Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee (D) speaks to reporters about electing a Democrat for governor. Sam Craig (white t-shirt) and Evan Davis (blue shirt) stand to his right. (Photo by Marianne Goodland, Colorado Politics)

“I know first hand what it’s like” to go through lockdown drills, added another attendee of the Inslee event: Sam Craig, a 16-year-old sophomore at Chatfield High School in Jefferson County, not far from Columbine High School.

Another student attendee — Evan Davis, a co-founder of Vote for Our Lives — said his generation knows what it’s like to be constantly reminded of threats.

“I don’t want to be at the wrong end of a gun,” he said. “I don’t want to hear about the next victim, the next grieving parent, the next news story. Vote!”

Davis is on the board of Never Again Colorado, and despite the group’s nonpartisan leanings, strongly advocated for a Democrat to be Colorado’s next governor.

The Democratic Party is the only one brave enough to take up the fight against gun violence, he said, adding: “Help us …. I’m tired of attending vigils.”

Inslee later told reporters that electing a Democrat to the Colorado governor’s office in November is a high priority for the DGA, and said there are at least four other states where the DGA believes its candidates are competitive, including South Carolina, Kansas, Oklahoma and perhaps even Arizona.

No Republican gubernatorial candidate in Colorado has the courage to stand up to Trump and protect Colorado, Inslee claimed. “They all fit the same mold. They refuse to listen to Coloradans on common-sense gun legislation,” he added.

The state GOP declined an opportunity to comment.

Gov. John Hickenlooper, a member of the DGA, was not present at Thursday’s event; he is on the Western Slope Thursday and Friday for bill-signing ceremonies.

Marianne Goodland

Marianne Goodland

Marianne Goodland is the chief legislative reporter for Colorado Politics. She's covered the Colorado General Assembly for 20 years, starting off in 1998 with the Silver & Gold Record, the editorially-independent newspaper at CU that was shuttered in 2009. She also writes for six rural newspapers in northeastern Colorado. Marianne specializes in rural issues, agriculture, water and, during election season, campaign finance. In her free time (ha!) she lives in Lakewood with her husband, Jeff; a cantankerous Shih-Tzu named Sophie; and Gunther the cat. She is also an award-winning professional harpist.