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Colorado’s Senate Race Gives Gun Owners a Clear Choice


Republican challenger Joe O’Dea speaks during a televised debate with Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

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Colorado’s two contenders for the U.S. Senate faced off in a second debate that included Democratic Sen. Michael Bennett and Republican challenger Joe O’Dea answering questions from moderators about gun rights and gun control. The first debate didn’t address issues pertinent to the firearm and ammunition industry or Second Amendment rights. This second debate showed their contrasting policy positions.

Questions regarding firearm and gun control laws were raised about 20 minutes into the hour-long debate, starting with quick “yes-or-no” answers before the two candidates elaborated on their positions.

Both candidates agreed on supporting universal background checks for all firearm transfers, which is currently forbidden by federal law and unworkable without a national firearm registry. They also agreed that a 10-day waiting period for firearm purchases is not something that they would support. That’s where agreement ended, however.

Gun Bans

O’Dea said he would not support an age-based gun ban. Sen. Bennett said he would. When it came to a national ban on modern sporting rifles (MSRs), Sen. Bennett said he would support President Joe Biden’s demand that Congress pass legislation to ban what he terms as “assault weapons.” They are, in fact, semiautomatic rifles, which operate the same way as duck hunting shotguns and most modern pistols. They’re the most popular-selling centerfire rifle in America today, with over 24.4 million in circulation in American.

If Sen. Bennett has his way, that would be no more.

“I think we’ve made enough of these weapons of war,” he said.

O’Dea clashed with Sen. Bennett on the issue of more gun control laws.

“Look, we’ve got plenty of laws on the books. Every time we turn around and have an event, we put another law on the book [sic]. We need to enforce the laws that are on the books now,” O’Dea explained. “And I will not be lectured by Democrats that continue to say we need to change this gun law, change that gun law, when they fail to enforce the laws that we have on the books. If you’re a drug dealer and you possess a weapon, you don’t get charged with a felony here in Colorado. That’s ridiculous to me.”

O’Dea said instead of more laws, Congress and the Biden administration must do more to support law enforcement to lock up criminals that break the law. That includes putting more police in local schools to protect children. O’Dea said that is a much better investment of taxpayer dollars than the Biden administration’s plan to spend $80 billion for 87,000 new IRS agents.

More Gun Control

Sen. Bennett, instead of answering the question on more gun control laws, defended the plan to boost the ranks of the IRS.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet speaks during a debate with Republican challenger Joe O’Dea, Friday, Oct. 28, 2022, on the campus of Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

When he finally pivoted back to the question of gun control, he attacked O’Dea for refusing to support federal “red flag” laws that do not include adequate or real Constitutional due process protections for the person subject such an order and blasted the NRA for not supporting the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.

NSSF did not support, nor did it oppose, the bill in its entirety. NSSF supported portions of the legislation, including providing more resources to address mental health and improve school security, checking to see if a buyer had become prohibited while a juvenile, strengthening penalties for illegal “straw” purchases and illegal firearms trafficking and clarifying when someone is required to have a federal firearm licensees.

“On guns, I just want it to be very clear,” Sen. Bennett said. “Joe O’Dea said he supports no gun laws beyond what we already have as a society. He’s against the red flag law we have in Colorado and he said he would have voted against the bipartisan gun bill that is the first time in a generation that Republicans and Democrats have overcome the NRA.”

Coloradans will have the final say on Nov. 8 when they cast their ballot for who will represent them in the U.S. Senate. This vote is critical to protecting the firearm industry and the Second Amendment rights of all Americans. Voters can learn more about how to register, where to vote and how their elected officials stand on firearm-industry issues. Don’t Risk Your Rights. #GUNVOTE.

Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

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