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Colorado congresswoman Lauren Boebert on Wednesday tweeted lawmakers are powerless to stop mass shootings like Tuesday’s slaughter of 19 elementary school students in Uvalde, Texas, writing, “You cannot legislate away evil.”
That prompted congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to ask, also on Twitter, “Why even be in Congress if you don’t believe in doing your job? Just quit and let someone who actually gives a damn do it instead of acting like a useless piece of furniture when babies are shot with AR15s that we let teen boys impulse buy before they can legally have a beer.”
The school shooter, who was killed by U.S. Border Patrol agents, reportedly bought two AR-15-style semiautomatic assault rifles soon after his 18th birthday.
Boebert, a Western Slope Republican who carries a handgun and rose to prominence as a hardline gun-rights advocate, fired back at Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat: “Ms. Defund the Police, Gun Free Zones have proven to be deadly. Let me know when you’re ready to do your job and effectively protect our schools with armed security. Let’s meet and solve this.”
Police initially said the Uvalde shooter reportedly was confronted by both an armed school security officer and two police officers, who he shot before barricading himself into a classroom and killing 19 students and two teachers. Officials later provided a conflicting account, raising questions about the overall effectiveness of armed first responders and security guards in school shooting scenarios.
In a May 14 massacre at a grocery store in Buffalo, an armed security officer who was a former Buffalo policeman also unsuccessfully confronted a shooter who killed the guard and nine others.
Asked by RealVail.com on Wednesday about this discrepancy in her tweet and why Congress shouldn’t try to legislatively limit assault weapon access for young people who may have mental health issues, Boebert spokesman Benjamin Stout emailed: “It was literally an armed border patrol officer that stopped ended the violence in Uvalde.”
The Uvalde shooter, however, may have entered the school after armed officers failed to stop him, and was inside for up to an hour before finally being killed by police.
In the Buffalo attack, the 18-year-old killer cited the “great replacement” conspiracy theory that elite liberals and Jews are replacing native-born white people with immigrants and people of color in order to gain more votes for Democrats. It’s a debunked theory that Boebert strongly believes in.
“Yes, there is definitely a replacement theory that’s going on right now,” Boebert said last year in a Youtube video. “We are killing American jobs and bringing in illegal aliens from all over the world to replace them if Americans will not comply.”
Asked about the extreme violence associated with the conspiracy theory and whether it should be repudiated by politicians, Stout replied it was a creation of Democrats.
“Regarding replacement theory, it was first espoused by members of the Democrat party long before Congresswoman Boebert,” Stout emailed, citing Fox News.
Boebert on Wednesday also went after Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke, who confronted Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Wednesday at a press conference on the Uvalde massacre and accused him of “doing nothing” to stop the slaughter.
Boebert called O’Rourke, a former Democratic congressman and presidential candidate, “a sick son of a bitch” and blasted him for “storming a press conference meant to discuss a tragedy to push his doomed candidacy,” calling it “disqualifying.”
However, Boebert did a nearly identical thing to O’Rourke in Aurora in 2019, and it launched her primary campaign that resulted in her improbable 2020 congressional victory.
“When Beto O’Rourke announced emphatically from the [presidential] 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,” Boebert said in 2020. “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.’
“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,” Boebert added.
O’Rourke, in response to a white supremacist and replacement theory conspiracist who killed 23 Latinos at an El Paso Walmart in 2019, had proposed a mandatory buyback program for assault weapons.
Boebert, who represents a portion of Eagle County and most of the Western Slope, faces a primary challenge from Republican state Sen. Don Coram of Montrose on June 28. Coram’s campaign did not respond to multiple email requests for comment on the recent mass shootings and Boebert’s adherence to the great replacement conspiracy theory. Coram and Boebert did reportedly discuss gun safety during a debate Thursday morning in Ignacio.
At Thursday’s debate, Boebert reportedly repeated her tweet about being unable to legislate against evil while arguing for arming teachers. Coram expressed reluctance to “obstruct a person’s right to own firearms, but added that there are some people who ‘should not have weapons,'” according to the Denver Post. “He also acknowledged that the rising tide of white nationalism is a ‘huge problem’ connected to mass shootings, but said he isn’t yet sure how to address the issue.”
After redistricting, Boebert’s 3rd Congressional District will only include the southwestern corner of Eagle County that’s in the Roaring Fork River Valley (along with Pueblo on the Front Range and most of the Western Slope). It previously included the western two-thirds of Eagle County. Most of Eagle County moved into the 2nd Congressional District represented by Democrat Joe Neguse of Lafayette for the Nov. 8 general election.
Neguse, whose parents are African immigrants to Colorado, issued the following statement after the Texas shooting: “Our hearts are with the victims of this latest mass shooting, their families, and the communities reeling from these tragedies. Please be assured that as authorities continue to investigate these unconscionable attacks, I will continue to work for common-sense measures that prevent gun violence and work to heal our communities — there are simple steps Congress can take to save lives, from universal background checks and raising the age to purchase certain weapons, to red-flag policies and closing loopholes, all of which I’ve pushed for. The bottom line is this — we must act.”
That’s a stark contrast with Boebert, who is opposed to Colorado’s red flag law and a steadfast opponent of any gun-safety regulations.
In a 2020 phone interview with RealVail.com, prior to her first primary victory in June and right after armed Michigan militia members stormed the state capitol in a foreshadowing of the Jan. 6, 2021, assault by Trump supporters on the U.S. Capitol (when Boebert tweeted “Today is 1776”), the Rifle restaurant owner was asked about armed intimidation of politicians.
“That’s not something that I would do,” Boebert said at the time. “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.”
In recent email interviews with candidates for state Senate District 8 and state House District 26, both of which include most of Eagle County, they were asked about Boebert’s take on the Second Amendment.
Democrat Meghan Lukens of Steamboat Springs, a teacher, wrote: “There are many sportsmen and women who are safe gun owners in House District 26, and there are many people who safely and responsibly own a gun for protection. I am proud to support responsible gun owners while also looking at ways to prevent gun violence in Colorado as a whole.”
Republican Savannah Wolfson of Oak Creek wrote: “The 2nd Amendment is for self defense, including protecting yourself from tyrants if necessary. In a world with rape, domestic violence, and abuse, I will always support a victim’s right to self defense. I encourage new firearms owners to get certified training in safe gun handling and storage.”
They were both then asked if there are any gun safety measures that they would support in the state House.
Lukens wrote: “If elected to the Colorado House of Representatives, I would listen to constituents regarding the topic of gun safety and advocate for gun safety measures. I would bring in stakeholders to listen to their expertise and concerns on the topic in order to accurately represent the people of HD26.”
Wolfson wrote: “If there was a gun ‘safety’ measure that would truly make Colorado safer, I think we all would support it. We already have background checks, red flag laws, storage laws, magazine capacity limits etc. in Colorado. All the restrictions I have seen would have had no impact on mass shootings and are politicians paying lip service to solving the real problems. A very serious problem we have in our state is the re-releasing of violent felons onto our streets to abuse people over and over. In my little town of Oak Creek, a man with a life sentence for domestic violence was released on a PR bond. There was no consideration for his victims. He decided he was going to have revenge and went on a shooting rampage. He killed my neighbor’s young adult son and injured more. He was stopped in the second house he attacked by a legal gun owner. But what law could have prevented this attack? He obtained his firearm illegally once he was released. Gun laws didn’t stop him. Keeping him behind bars would have prevented this. Unfortunately, the re-release of violent felons is a major trend. When I spoke with a local police officer on the issue, he told me, “It’s so frustrating. The ink isn’t dry on the arrest paperwork before they’re let out again.” We could also do so much more to improve local mental health resources. When I spoke to law enforcement in Rangely, they said they pay Mind Springs and they “get nothing back.” This is a consistent problem we’ve heard across the district. They have nowhere to bring violent, mentally ill people. In Eagle County, the sheriff has actually opted out of Mind Springs in favor of a locally controlled mental health program that is flourishing. This just demonstrates that state lawmakers should empower local governments to solve local problems, instead of creating more bureaucratic offices 500 miles away.”
Wolfson faces a GOP primary challenge from Eagle resident Glenn Lowe, who has not responded to a call and multiple emails seeking comment this and a wide variety of other issues.
In Senate District 8, Democrat Dylan Roberts and Republican Matt Solomon were asked the same questions, starting with their take on Boebert’s view of the Second Amendment.
“As a native of SD8, I know well how many of us exercise the 2nd Amendment as sportsmen and sportswomen,” Roberts said in an email. “It’s a part of our rural way of life that I’m proud to defend at the State House while also supporting evidence-based, common sense gun violence legislation that will help prevent senseless gun violence in our state.”
Solomon, a former gun store owner, wrote: “The first gun control law in the history of the world was passed in 1661 in England, which authorized the seizing of arms from “any person judged dangerous to the Peace of the Kingdom.” This law was passed, and then expanded upon in 1671, because the State wanted more control over the population and was fearful of an uprising. When the United States of America’s Founders were drafting the Bill of Rights, the Second Amendment was the least debated amendment of the original ten. Our Founders had fresh in their memory the struggle they endured and the oppression placed upon the colonies by government and military control. The Second Amendment does not identify any reason specifically — protection against tyrannical government, hunting, personal protection, or otherwise; it is what it is – a right that shall not be infringed.”
Asked what, if any, gun safety measures he would support in the state Senate, Roberts wrote, “As a former Eagle County Deputy District Attorney, I’ve seen the toll gun violence can take on a community. I’ve been proud to support a number of common-sense gun safety and gun violence prevention measures in my time in the State House. Common sense measures like Extreme Risk Protection Orders are proven to save lives, while respecting our Constitutional rights as defined by the 2nd Amendment. If I have the honor of serving as State Senator for SD8, I’d continue to partner with my colleagues to create legislative outcomes which promote our rural way of life while protecting the wellbeing of Coloradans all across the state.”
Asked the same question, Solomon replied, “I cannot answer this question without seeing the measures to which you are referring. However, I remain open to reading and considering all that is presented.”
Editor’s note: A shorter version of this story first appeared on the Colorado Times Recorder.