Heading into the 2023 Colorado State Legislative Session, the pro-Second Amendment community faced a daunting uphill battle. The Democrats had won massively in the 2022 Midterm Elections, taking a Supermajority in the House and a near-Supermajority in the Senate. With their newfound power, they formed the Gun Violence Prevention Caucus, spearheaded by Rep. Meg Froelich and Sen. Tom Sullivan, two of the vilest anti-gun legislators in Colorado’s history. The GVPC promised sweeping changes to Colorado’s gun laws, bringing it closer to California’s “gun-free” paradise. The Progressive agenda had become an unstoppable tidal wave, weaponizing emotional appeals and dubious statistics to transform Colorado from one of the best places to raise a family into a crime-ridden catastrophe. Denver became the Los Angeles of the Rockies for all the wrong reasons. Even with violent crime rapidly increasing, the anti-gunners ravenously pursued gun control laws aimed squarely at restricting the ability of law-abiding citizens to protect themselves.
It would have been understandable for the pro-gun community to give up before the Legislative Session began. After all, the Democrats had the numbers to ram through whatever legislation they wanted. They could decide, at any time, to limit debate, thanks to Rule 14, which restricts discussion to just one hour. Traditionally, this measure was not taken, as Colorado was a purple state, and using power to silence opposition could lead to drastic consequences in the election cycle. However, the members of the GVPC are radicals. It would be all too easy for them to decide that our Constitutionally guaranteed rights are secondary to the “greater good,” thereby wielding their power with absolute authority and removing all obstacles to their disarmament agenda. It seemed like a foregone conclusion to everyone that the gun control lobby would get every item on their wishlist, to the delight of anti-gun tyrants and criminals alike.
Unfortunately for them, Denver and Boulder are not the only two cities in Colorado.
Despite the odds being stacked against the Second Amendment, the pro-gun community was able to significantly obstruct the 2023 Gun Control Package. Sure, the gun control lobby pushed through some egregious bills, like SB23-170, which expanded current Red Flag Gun Confiscation laws, and HB23-1219, which introduced a mandatory minimum 3-day waiting period for all firearm transfers. But, on the other hand, the GVPC was denied its crown jewel: the ban on so-called “assault weapons.” Thanks to the tireless work of Second Amendment activists, HB23-1230 (the so-called “assault weapons” ban) and other major bills were either completely gutted or defeated outright. Despite their overwhelming numbers, additional potential pieces of legislation were set aside entirely as the GVPC was forced to fight tooth and nail to get anything passed.
2023 was primed to be a monumental victory for the gun control lobby. Instead, they were left with five new pieces of legislation out of a potential nine. Of those five, two have already had lawsuits filed against them (HB23-1219 & SB23-169), one was gutted almost entirely (SB23-168), and the last two are either awaiting a suitable defendant (SB23-170) or wholly unenforceable (SB23-279). Overall, it’s hard to believe the anti-gunners are anything but disappointed by their demonstrable incompetence in abusing their power. Meanwhile, supporters of the Constitution can hold their heads high in their defense of the Second Amendment as the battleground moves from the Golden Dome to the Courts, where gun control is currently at an extreme disadvantage.
For now, let’s look back at the Good, the Bad, and the downright Ugly from the 2023 Legislative Session.
Grassroots Activists – The impact of RMGO’s grassroots army cannot be understated. It was known early on that this Legislative Session would be a nightmare for the Second Amendment. The first draft of the “assault weapons” ban was circulating by Christmas, more akin to a 200-pound brick of coal than a present. We knew the so-called “assault weapons” ban was just the tip of the iceberg, which meant we would need the full force of our grassroots activists.
They responded emphatically. By the end of the session, RMGO members had made over 40,000 phone calls, sent over 50,000 letters and emails, and signed more than 100,000 petitions. When testimony was needed against the various gun control bills, activists would turn up in droves and give the anti-gunners plenty of headaches. During the “assault weapons” ban hearing, the pro-gun community dominated the anti-gunner, outnumbering them 8-1 and providing enough people for the public testimony to last nearly 24 hours. Naturally, the Democrats limited testimony. In the end, the grassroots activists’ strength won these battles, and we cannot thank them enough for the defense they mounted of the Second Amendment.
Scott Bottoms – Rep. Bottoms is in his first term from HD15 and has been a strong voice defending the right to keep and bear arms. As a pastor, he is expected to protect God-given rights, such as the Second Amendment. So far, he has done a great job, despite constant attacks from the Left due to his moral positions on highly controversial topics. Rep. Bottoms was elected as an anti-establishment candidate to replace Dave Williams, who left the seat to run for Congress. It seems he is filling those clown-sized shoes very well. If the Republicans want any hope of success in the future, they will need to continue putting forth candidates that have morals and can defend them.
Ken DeGraaf – Speaking of people that can defend their morals, Rep. DeGraaf was another first-term representative from HD22. Despite their apparent futility, he quickly set himself apart as a champion for the Second Amendment by sponsoring two pro-gun bills. He also distinguished himself as one of the few members of the Legislature with a real, functional brain. Rep. DeGraaf would often use this to his advantage during debates, dragging his speeches out for long periods, much to the dismay of the Democrats (and some Republicans as well). His experience as an Air Force pilot meant he was also feisty at times, especially near the end of the session. When debating a land-use bill, he and Rep. Woodrow, known for his tall stature and dominant demeanor, got into a heated exchange. It is evident that Rep. DeGraaf is passionate about what is right, and that passion will serve Colorado well during the impending fights against radical Progressivism.
Stephanie Luck – Rep. Luck has been a stalwart defender of the Second Amendment, representing the people of HD60 well. She has been instrumental in many filibusters over highly controversial topics, including the right to keep and bear arms. During the testimony over the “assault weapons” ban, she also demonstrated her incredible efficiency, knocking out a pro-gun AND pro-life position at the same time. She pointed out that guns are not the leading cause of death for children; abortion is. Rep. Luck was then met with a chorus of boos, but those boos meant absolutely nothing; we’ve seen what makes those people cheer. She did her best to obstruct every unconstitutional Second Amendment infringement that entered the Chambers this year, and the pro-gun community greatly appreciates her work. We will be standing with her again when the gun control lobby rears its ugly head next year.
Bob Marshall – Rep. Marshall is a Democrat representing HD43, a district that traditionally goes Republican, comprising Highlands Ranch. Rep. Marshall won a seat the Democrats know is precarious, which means he was allowed to vote based on what might keep his position. They knew that if he came out and voted like an outright radical, he would most likely lose his seat in the next election cycle. And since the Democrats had a Supermajority, they could afford to let some members vote against specific bills to maintain the moderate façade. So, for example, Rep. Marshall voted for SB23-168, 170, and 279 but also against SB23-169 and HB23-1165 & 1219. Now, he will be able to tell his constituents that he’s not a full-blown radical, just a fan of “common sense” solutions to firearm freedom. But that’s not his fault. Again, the responsibility lies at the feet of the Colorado GOP for putting him in the position to represent HD43 in the first place.
Lisa Frizell – Rep. Frizell is an example of a politician that knows how to play the game and does the bare minimum to get by. Right now, the Legislature is stacked heavily against the Republicans, to the point where Republican votes do not matter. It costs her nothing to vote the right way every time, but she still has a failing grade from Colorado Liberty Scorecard. However, she seems acutely aware that leadership from RMGO (me, Taylor Rhodes) lives in her district and has a spotless record on the gun votes this session. This was expected from her, as she is taking over for one of the most pro-gun Reps in Colorado history, Patrick Neville. Much like Patrick Neville, she votes the right way on guns. But, unlike Neville, she has no fight in her whatsoever. She does absolutely nothing (including basic speeches in the well) to stand up for the Second Amendment outside of her vote, which is a shame considering her proximity to people like Ken DeGraaf, Stephanie Luck, and Scott Bottoms. Honestly, though, it isn’t her fault. The blame for her apathy toward standing up for rights falls squarely on the Colorado GOP. More on that next.
Colorado GOP – The COGOP, which means Consultant-Owned GOP, was an absolute trainwreck up through the 2022 Midterm Elections. The leadership of the party and its appendages (House GOP, Senate GOP, etc.) was farcical. The problem is that COGOP Leadership and most of those candidates were guided by Establishment Consultants, such as the 76 Group, Cole Communications, and Cutter Consulting. These consultants had perfect strategies for losing elections, but I don’t blame them for getting paid. I blame the GOP leadership that routinely trusted them. The tension between ordinary people and the political class is palpable. Yet, the political class continues to treat the people as braindead cattle that must be manipulated into voting correctly. This was exemplified by the COGOP in 2022, as they routinely helped sabotage candidates that stood on solid moral foundations and anti-establishment ambitions. Their excuse was that they “had to appeal to moderate voters.” Meanwhile, the Progressives have dragged Colorado to the point where it’s competing with California to be the most radical.
Thankfully, the COGOP has since replaced the “old guard” with former RMGO-endorsed Representative, Dave Williams. While there is reason to be optimistic, it’s time for Dave to prove he is the right person for the job and drastically change the Party’s losing trajectory.
Elisabeth Epps – Rep. Epps is in her first term out of HD6, and she is as radical as they come. She immediately joined the Gun Violence Prevention Caucus, promising to help end the “gun violence epidemic.” She was the primary sponsor for HB23-1230, the ban on so-called “assault weapons,” and was emotionally distraught when she found out it wouldn’t advance. “It’s the guns,” was all she could say about why fundamental Constitutional rights should be infringed. She is a student of Progressivism and knows precisely how to push it. Rep. Epps is a prodigy for the Gun Control Lobby and will be a major player in the anti-gun movement for years to come. Her first term was an absolute nightmare for the Second Amendment. It only promises to worsen from here, especially as gun control gets struck down by the Courts.
Tom Sullivan – Commie Tommie from SD27 is probably the most anti-gun, pro-Mets (that should be criminal alone) member of the Colorado Legislature. He has weaponized the tragedy of his son’s death to attack the rights of law-abiding citizens. He believes everyone around him can potentially do the same monstrous actions as the evil person who killed his son. Therefore, we should all willingly give up our gun rights. His safety depends on our disarmament, which is convenient since he’s a politician. Sen. Sullivan has been attached to every significant piece of gun control since he was first elected to the House. He and the gun control lobby have an incredibly intimate relationship; when RMGO came out and endorsed Tom Kim for SD27, Michael Bloomberg donated $1.5 million to Sullivan’s campaign. Sen. Sullivan treats pro-gun individuals like they are beneath him and will berate them during testimony. Sen. Sullivan is the perfect lackey for the gun control lobby and will continue to champion tyranny as long as he remains in the Legislature.
Lorena Garcia (during AWB testimony) – Rep. Garcia dared to suggest that rights are granted by the government. She isn’t even on the GVPC, yet she is regurgitating the same talking points as any other radical in the Legislature. During the “assault weapons” ban hearing, it was mentioned by a citizen that the right to keep and bear arms is a “God-given right.” Rep. Garcia responded that the First Amendment creates a separation of Church and State, and therefore “God-given” rights do not exist. If you ever needed proof that the education system in America is broken, here it is. “God-given” is another way of saying natural rights, which are rights that exist as a consequence of existence. However, it is a commonly held belief amongst young leftists and authoritarians that rights are man-made. “Anything we like is a right; everything we don’t is not.” If this line of thinking goes unchallenged, it can be used to justify any unconstitutional law that suits their political or societal agenda. The Bill of Rights codifies preexisting rights that predate any form of government. People will misuse these rights and give tyrants ample reason to trample them, which is why we protect them. No matter how many times individuals behave irresponsibly, it does not justify depriving law-abiding citizens of their rights.
Gun Control Lobby – Ultimately, the ugliest part of the 2023 Legislative Session was the gun control lobby. Everytown for Gun Safety and Gifford’s Group weaponize emotions by spreading misinformation and disinformation to the masses. Though their bank accounts are rich, their morals are bankrupt. The narrative they craft is not centered around reality as it is but reality as they want it to be. They know that mass shootings break the hearts of every good American, so they craft data that says there’s a “mass shooting every day.” Conveniently, they do not tell regular people that they have changed the definition of a “mass shooting” to suit their needs. Instead, they play on the emotions of parents by claiming guns are the “number one killer of children and teens” and then manipulate the data and obfuscate the truth.
In reality, it is the very Democrats they support whose policies have devastated black and Latino communities for generations, leading to the devastation in the first place. The gun control lobby has no problem using the corpses of underprivileged young men to further their goals of disarming Americans. Their evil intentions are masked by words of “compassion” and “love,” routinely justifying their contempt for the Constitution by suggesting that our children will be safer if we give up our means of protecting them. They foster dependence on the same government that slaughtered Native Americans, imprisoned Japanese Americans, and declared Black Americans were less than human; meanwhile, they label us crazy for being students of our country’s history. They protect violent criminals and disparage law-abiding citizens for wanting to defend the ones they love. If you don’t believe me, remember that their stated goal is to “end gun violence,” not gun crime. Justified defensive uses of firearms fall under the category of “gun violence,” yet they never make any distinction, nor do they take any steps to reinforce the right of law-abiding citizens to protect their selves and their families. If the gun control lobby’s laws lead to a 100% reduction in defensive firearm deaths, they will celebrate it as a reduction in “gun violence.” They aren’t trying to end violence, just “gun violence.” Their response to criminals misusing firearms further restricts the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.
Any sane, rational person wants their enemies disarmed. After all, it means those seeking to harm you cannot do so. It’s why law-abiding citizens wish criminals to be disarmed, as only criminals would seek to cause them harm. So why do the Democrats fight so hard to disarm law-abiding citizens?
It’s safe to say the 2023 Assault on the Second Amendment was nowhere near as successful as the anti-gun radicals would have hoped. Thanks to the immense efforts of grassroots activists throughout Colorado, the gun control lobby ran headfirst into a defiant populace ready and willing to stand up for their rights. In the Legislature, a select few acted as bulwarks against the Progressive plague threatening to overtake Colorado. This is merely the first wave of radical gun control that will confront this great state, and we will need an even more vigorous defense of the Second Amendment next year. Until then, it’s time to shift focus to the Courts, where the tables have turned, and gun control is on the ropes.
I have already directed our legal team to file two separate lawsuits to being to unravel the anti-freedom laws passed by Governor Polis and his communist cronies.
About the Author:
Taylor has over a decade of conservative political experience working for organizations such as the Republican National Committee, the 2016 Republican National Convention, the Mississippi Federation of College Republicans, Donald Trump for President, the Colorado Republican Committee, CARLY for America, and countless conservative clients with his political strategy firm, Rhodes Consulting, LLC. Additionally, Taylor holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern Mississippi and a master’s degree from Liberty University. Taylor started with RMGO as a contract lobbyist in 2018, where he tirelessly fought against the “Red Flag” Gun Confiscation bill. In 2020, Taylor was appointed as the Executive Director of the organization.
Rocky Mountain Gun Owners is a 501(c)(4) organization headquartered in Loveland, Colorado, with a mission to hold politicians accountable and achieve maximum liberty for an individual to defend themselves, their family, and their property without having to ask the government for permission to do so. Since its founding in 1996, RMGO has enjoyed victories over anti-gun politicians with the support of 200,000 members and grassroots activists statewide.