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Summer of Gun Violence

Recent shootings in Denver have taken the lives of four teenagers (ages 14-19), and Aurora has seen twelve firearm homicides in June and the first half of July. The Colorado tragedies include:

Denver:  Davarie Armstrong, 17, who was entering his senior year at South High School. He played on the football team and served as a mentor for young people.

Arvada: A man killed in a motorcycle gang shootout.

Aurora: Two men killed in a gunfight at a pawn store.

Aurora: A man killed when playing with a gun.

Coalmont: A 14-year-old boy shot and killed his stepfather who was attacking his mother at a campgrounds.

Denver: A person was shot and killed in an altercation with a neighbor.

Denver: Isabella Thallas, 21, was shot and killed during an argument about dog poop.

As of July 13th, there have been 128 firearms homicides recorded in Colorado this year, a 25% increase over the same period for 2019.

Surely, the coronavirus has contributed to this from the stresses created by job losses, health insurance loss, illness, confinement, and isolation. Add to that brew the surge in gun buying which occurred at the start of the pandemic and still continues.

Today’s Washington Post reports on two academic studies that note the spike in gun violence amidst the surge in gun sales created by the pandemic and protests. They noted that an additional 3 million guns were sold from March through June (compared to previous years), and that half were sold during June, the period of the protests.

One study correlated higher gun sales to states with greater racial animus.

In the other study, the authors state “the risk of increased firearm availability are likely compounded by the myriad effects of the coronavirus pandemic, including widespread increases in anxiety, fear, grief, economic strain, disruptions to daily routines, and racial and economic inequities.”

RMGO Upheaval

Dudley Brown recently resigned as Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, an extremist pro-gun rights group.

Brown’s resignation follows the organization’s wipeout in the recent primary elections (0 for 5) and its loss in two court decisions. He will continue as president.

Taylor Rhodes, current lobbyist for RMGO, will take over as executive director.

In its press release announcing the switchover, Rhodes was lauded for his efforts to block 3 gun reform bills.

Good try, but all 3 of those bills died because of the coronavirus.

Mario Nicolai, who once was a Republican candidate for the legislature and opposed by RMGO, shared in the Colorado Sun his reflections on the disaster that RMGO and Brown have been on the Colorado Republican party.

The awful election results of RMGO may portend poorly for the chances of Rep. Patrick Neville to continue as House Minority Leader. In early 2019, a Democratic legislator shared with Ceasefire’s president that she asked her Republican colleague why they re-elected Neville after he had just led the caucus to losing 5 seats. The response was that they were told if they didn’t vote for Neville, the RMGO would be set on them.

Ceasefire has noted for several years that RMGO’s bark was far worse than its bite (We documented that it didn’t have such a winning record in the elections after 2012.). Now that Republican legislators have figured this out, there may be changes at the statehouse.

St. Louis Couple Draws Guns

In late June Mark and Patricia McCloskey, a St. Louis couple, drew guns (pistol and assault rifle) on a racial justice protest crowd headed towards the mayor’s home in their posh enclave.

Standing on their mansion steps, they created a frightening image shared widely on social media.

Although the couple indicated they feared for their lives, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the lawyer couple has a long history of suing other people and ordering them off their property.

Reportedly, the protesters kept to the streets and never stepped onto the McCloskey’s land.

The St. Louis Circuit Attorney is investigating, but today, the Washington Post reports that both President Trump and the Missouri Governor have offered impassioned defenses of the McCloskeys.