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Since her improbable and nationally noteworthy June 30 primary win over seemingly entrenched five-term Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, the nicknames have been piling up for Republican Rifle resident Lauren Boebert: “Yosemite Samantha”, “Annie Oakley”, and “QAnon Karen”.
I interviewed her by phone in early May right after heavily armed anti-lockdown protesters stormed the Michigan capitol. I asked the fervent gun-rights advocate about that form of threatening protest, long before the largely peaceful and unarmed George Floyd police-brutality demonstrations, and just how she became so synonymous with Second Amendment rancor.
I also asked Boebert just how her Shooters Grill restaurant became an open-carry tourist attraction and why the mother of four started packing heat on the campaign trail – her origin story, if you will. But after finding out she and her contract natural-gas-worker husband haven’t had health insurance for three years – in risky jobs and during a pandemic – I wrote a CD3 preview for Colorado Politics focusing on health care and then other issues for RealVail.com.
For the most part, I stayed away from Boebert’s core issue, which I don’t think most residents of Colorado’s geographically massive 3rd Congressional District (CD3) – where I also happen to live – care too much about. To me, it seemed like a gimmick in a district that stretches from the borders of New Mexico to Utah to Wyoming and where even Democrats love their guns.
After her shocking takedown of Tipton, however, and given her growing international celebrity and circling of the GOP media-manager wagons, it seemed like a good time to revisit that early May phoner with Boebert and daylight her pistol-packing positions.
[Quick side note in the interest of fairness: Boebert will face Democratic nominee Diane Mitsch Bush of Steamboat Springs in the Nov. 3 general election – a former educator, social scientist, Routt County commissioner and state representative for Routt and Eagle counties. Mitsch Bush has been a steady and sane civil servant who seems to connect with everyone from ranchers to ski resort operators to farmers to even some folks in the energy industry. For all I know, she owns a gun or two, and I’ll be sure to ask her and follow up in this blog space before Nov. 3.]
Now back to Boebert. With all of these disturbing videos of gun-waving white women cropping up from St. Louis to Detroit in recent days, and in the context of the growing Karen-meme criticism of privileged and angry Caucasian women going off on liberals and people of color, I went back through my notes from my May 1 phoner with Boebert for this revealing Q&A:
RV: Shortly after you opened Shooters Grill in 2013, you said a man was beaten to death behind your restaurant. How did that shape your strong beliefs on gun ownership?
LB: It prompted the question to me, ‘How would I defend my people?’ I went across the street to the trade and gun store, and I asked him, ‘What are Colorado carry laws? What did I need to do to carry a firearm on my person?’ And [the owner] told me about open carry laws and I was like, ‘Well, I don’t have time to go get a permit right now, sit through a class, pay my government fee to prove my innocence,’ and so I was like, ‘I’ll just open carry.’
And shortly after that, my waitresses began to carry. And then the next thing you know, [ABC News] was doing a story on us calling Shooters Grill the safest restaurant in America. So it wasn’t something that we had intended to do, but it just worked well. I started to see how our Second Amendment rights were just being stripped away.
RV: What else was going on in 2013 that made you jump on that bandwagon?
LB: In 2013, Colorado passed their [high-capacity] magazine ban, and I just immediately saw how ridiculous that was, even down to if you owned a magazine that’s now illegal before the law passed, you’re grandfathered in. I saw the sheriffs that said that they weren’t going to enforce this, and I really just started getting into how often the left is trying to strip us of our Second Amendment rights.
[The Colorado Supreme Court last week upheld the legislature’s 2013 ban on magazines that hold more than 15 rounds of ammunition – a law passed in the wake of the 2012 Aurora theater massacre that killed 12. The killer in that mass shooting used a 100-round magazine.]
RV: Talk about the role former Texas congressman and Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke played in your campaign – your outrage over his debate-stage remarks about gun control in the wake of a massacre that killed 22 at a Walmart in his hometown of El Paso.
LB: When Beto O’Rourke announced emphatically from the debate stage how he’s going to take your AR-15’s and your AK47’s, I kind of just sat back and bickered about it here at home and then that was it. Then when he announced that he was going to Aurora, Colorado, I said, ‘I’m not going to sit at home and complain about this because that doesn’t do anything. I’m going to go and talk to this guy.’
RV: How did your family react to that decision?
LB: My husband told me not to go: ‘That’s a three-hour drive, you have better things to do, a restaurant to run, don’t do it.’ But I went against his will and I really wasn’t expecting a bunch of media there. [O’Rourke] was polling at 1%. I didn’t think that anybody even cared to hear from him. I just wanted to go and give him a piece of my mind. But I was able to get ahold of the microphone with my Glock [handgun] on my hip, and I looked him in the eye and told him, ‘Hell no, you’re not,’ and so of course that went viral.
RV: The March For Our Lives movement in the wake of the 2018 Parkland high school massacre that killed 17 school-aged children has inspired many young people. O’Rourke was clearly trying to speak to that movement, but you chose to confront him in opposition.
LB: That’s just an extension of what I’ve been doing. All of this, even my run for Congress, this is just an extension of what I’m doing. I don’t want to sit back and complain about what I see and not do anything about it. I want to be a part of the solution. And that’s why I’m stepping up. I didn’t see anyone stepping up to Beto. I don’t see anyone stepping up to our legislature like they should.
RV: You also oppose Colorado’s red flag law, which provides a mechanism for family members and police to petition a judge to confiscate the guns of someone who may be suffering a mental health crisis and is deemed a danger to themselves or others. [The gun safety advocacy group Colorado Ceasefire recently reported on the law’s uses through its first six months.]
LB: Congressman Tipton vowed to remain neutral on red flag laws. He signed onto a coalition with a Democrat congressmen here in Colorado to remain neutral on red flag laws. And so I’m just tired of Republicans giving a conservative message but then voting Democrat-light and appeasing the Democrats in everything that they do, because I know that it is never enough for the Democrats. They always want more. And I know that their policies are failed policies. They’re empty promises that sounds really good but they’re not effective, and all they do is limit us and empower government. I want a limited government.
RV: Gun-toting militia members in Michigan just stormed the state capitol (on April 30) and unsuccessfully demanded access to the floor of the legislature. Some lawmakers said they were intimidated by the show of firepower. Was that appropriate?
LB: I didn’t see that happen, but … I don’t see why they’re not allowed to. Denver, you can’t open carry in Denver, but right there at our Capitol doors, there’s metal detectors so the public can’t go in there with their firearm. However, even that is a violation of the way the laws read — whenever you are going to restrict law-abiding citizens to come into a public building like that with a firearm.
RV: Do you think it’s wrong to protest stay-at-home public health orders in a threatening manner while brandishing an assault weapon? [Boebert defied a county cease and desist order by opening her restaurant too early in violation of public health orders in May, tweeting, “If you want freedom, you have to go out and take it.”]
LB: That’s not something that I would do. I don’t use my Second Amendment rights to intimidate others. It is for my protection and it is a protection against a tyrannical government, and so I don’t see that we would ever have to use our Second Amendment rights against our government, but that is what it’s for. It’s not for hunting. It’s not for target shooting or for sport. [The Second Amendment reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”]
RV: Tipton tried to walk a fine line with President Donald Trump, who did not win Colorado in the 2016 election, but you’re all in with Trump, right? [Trump tweeted his support for Tipton last week, but now, via VP Mike Pence, says he’s never been more excited about a candidate than he is about Boebert, who reportedly attended Friday’s Trump rally in South Dakota.]
LB: [Tipton’s] never been enthusiastically in favor of President Trump, and anytime he mentioned him, it’s to get the crowd excited because they’re not getting excited over him. So when he mentions President Trump, people get happy because we love President Trump. There’s no enthusiasm for Scott Tipton. We all know that he’s just a very quiet seat-filler.
RV: Certainly large swaths of CD3 are Trump Country (deep-red Mesa County leaps to mind), but overall the state is trending blue and polls show Trump and Republican Sen. Cory Gardner losing by significant margins statewide in November. That doesn’t give you pause in going further right than Tipton, who was first elected in a Tea Party wave in 2010?
LB: I believe that we are still a conservative district, but our leadership unfortunately has decided to go purple, and some of our areas are a reflection of his leadership. I’m ready to step up and change that and be a strong voice for the issues that matter most to our way of life here.
RV: What do you think, Eagle County (the western two-thirds of which is in CD3), are guns one of the issues that matters most to you on Nov. 3?
July 4, 2020 at 12:49 pm
Absolutely guns are an issue in Eagle County (not the Vail Valley), She said it best the Second Amendment isn’t about hunting it’s mostly about keeping a tyrannical government from taking over as the authors of our constitution intended. Look at what is happening to our beloved nation right now. Gun sales are on a pace to break record numbers. Why? Because people see how easily they can be killed or maimed. And the left perpetuates the crazy protests that turn into anarchy.
Antifa is a real threat and the left especially the left Governors and Mayors weaken the police and crime is on the rise in those cities. They bow to the likes of the BLM who in my opinion are a hate group who does nothing but divide us. If they cared like they say they do why haven’t they gone to crime-ridden Chicago and stop the black on black crime? Maybe you can interview them and ask that question.
I am a life-long resident of Eagle County (not the Vail Valley.) I grew up hunting and respect the gun and was taught how to handle it and put food on our tables. Growing up here was great. But then Vail came along and changed everything. It’s sad to see what has been lost and so many moving here don’t care about what it was like. It’s all about what’s in it for me and many entitled destroy and don’t care about our wildlife and land. I see a spike in crime here and it worries me. And NO ONE will ever try to take my right to protect my family and myself. I have taught my 3 daughters how to protect themselves and always vote for those who will always protect that right. Boebert is right on, a fresh new face that will go far in taking on the left who will destroy our country. Guns do matter for all of us even those who choose to take them. History tells us that once guns are removed the people are easy to control. “When government take away the citizens’ right to bear arms it becomes citizens’ duty to take away citizen’s right to govern.” George Washington
David O. Williams
July 4, 2020 at 2:06 pm
Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment, Jim. I’m not asking BLM about Chicago because this is Real Vail and not a national or even Illinois site covering issues there. But my opinion, having gone to high school in inner-city Denver and observed America for 55 years, is that systemic racism ingrained for 400 years by a country built on slavery continues to this day, presenting fewer opportunities for inner-city youth and leading to increased crime that has been over-policed by racist cops who think nothing of kneeling on a black man’s neck for nearly five minutes until he dies.
July 6, 2020 at 1:29 pm
” I’m not asking BLM about Chicago because this is Real Vail and not a national or even Illinois site covering issues there.”
Then why are you asking Ms. Boebert about events in Michigan?
David O. Williams
July 6, 2020 at 1:43 pm
Because it was breaking Second Amendment news and I was interviewing a Colorado congressional candidate. Similar protests took place in Colorado at the state capitol after gun-safety measures passed in 2013 and to oppose public health lockdown orders more recently. Do you really need a gun to make your point?
July 4, 2020 at 3:32 pm
I don’t think guns are an issue in Eagle County. People have guns, people carry guns, people go hunting with their guns, and keep them for protection. That’s not an issue for me. What do I care about? Healthcare is a priority. What is Lauren’s thoughts on how she would solve the healthcare problem. If she just says abolish the Affordable Health Care Act, what would she put in it’s place? What are her views on DACA? Does she want to withdraw troops from Germany? How would she attempt to lower the federal deficit? Can she work with the Democrats? I don’t want another candidate that is divisive, that only cares about one issue. Why should people vote for her, I only see her views on one issue, and that’s 2nd amendment rights. We know that she’s a conservative and possibly a Qanon follower. I think this candidate needs to put out more information about how she feels about national issues.
David O. Williams
July 5, 2020 at 10:20 am
Thanks for the comment, Karen. Prior to the primary I posted this article with some of Boebert’s positions on health care: https://www.realvail.com/astronomical-health-insurance-rates-likely-to-drive-cd3-primary-debate/a8438/
And here she is on several other topics in another story I posted prior to the primary: https://www.realvail.com/three-of-four-cd3-candidates-speak-on-variety-of-issues-prior-to-primary-election/a8525/
Thanks for reading.
July 18, 2020 at 8:23 am
2nd amendment and Guns in general is a washed up discussion. There are two guns to every person in the USA, they will never be removed from possession. What they did in Michigan was childish and an abuse of gun ownership. Republican or Democrat is another washed up one, people forget that Trump was a Democrat most of his life, he went Republican to win the presidency, less competition. I don’t see how Lauren can win in November if it’s only about the guns, she needs to put some work into appealing to the front range voters, the front range is all Democrat, that’s 80% of the votes in CO. That’s also why Trump will not win CO, he didn’t in 2016 and won’t in 2020. It is a totally different world on the front range, western slope to front range is like comparing Utah to Massachusetts.
November 24, 2020 at 7:33 am
I live in Michigan, and had a front row seat to all of the protests. Both the protests over her lockdown, and the protests that followed the death of Mr. Floyd. Governor Whitmer condemned all protests right up to the day that Mr. Floyd was murdered, and then suddenly, she had a change of mind on protests, and was out on the street with the protesters. Michiganders didn’t appreciate her hypocrisy on that, but that wasn’t the big thing. The big issue was that she completely removed legislative checks and balances, by removing any say in the state’s response from our state legislature, by continually declaring state of emergencies, from March, until October, when the Michigan Supreme Court finally shut her down. It became really bad when she opened up the part of the state where her summer cottage is, and her husband got caught trying to use her name to go to the front of the line, and get their boat in the water before others, who had made appointments before them.
In the opinion of many Michiganders, Governor Whitmer became intoxicated with power, she spoke down to the electorate, scolding them like an angry stepmother, and then completely disregarded all of the rules she put in place for the unwashed masses. As for me, I wouldn’t take my firearm to the state capitol, but I also think she brought that stuff upon herself, and honestly, I think she was looking for that response, because she sure did spend a lot of time doing every single interview on CNN, MSNBC, and every other liberal media show she could find. She politicized our Covid response, she politicized the firearms at the protests, and then when the Feds broke up the ridiculously stupid plan to somehow kidnap her, she politicized that. I have a feeling that you’ll respond about the plot to kidnap her, so let me just say this. That group of idiots is like the gang that couldn’t shoot straight. They had absolutely zero chance of pulling that off. Whitmer keeps gas lighting everything, and people are going to talk. That doesn’t mean that idiots like that small group have a snowball’s chance in hell of doing her harm. Not like the harm she’s done to folks in nursing homes, not like the harm she’s done to small businesses, and not like the harm she’s done to our state’s constitution. You stated that you won’t write about Chicago, because you’re a Vail reporter, but you chose to write about Michigan, so I chose to respond. Governor Whitmer is a political hack, drunk with power. She took absolute power, and when the supreme court shut her down, she weaponized the Department of Health and Human Services, and many other agencies, to sidestep the Michigan Supreme Court. Absolute power, absolutely corrupts, and Gretchen Whitmer currently has absolute power in the Mitten State. She better hope that President Biden gives her a position in his administration, because she’ll not win another election in Michigan. She won’t have the anti Trumpers to help her in 2022. She’ll have to run on her record, and her record is abysmal. To circle back to the beginning of your article, much like Lauren Boebert, Governor Whitmer has nicknames here in Michigan. Gretch The Wretch, Gretchen Whitler, and many others…
One last disclaimer: My wife has a list of things for me to do, and she just kindly informed me that I need to begin, so I have not proof read this, and apologize for any spelling and grammar errors… LOL
March 9, 2021 at 4:24 pm
Oh Boebert is definitely a Karen.