In a very odd year, the Boston Bruins won the NHL 2020 abbreviated regular season, taking the Presidents Cup – awarded to the team with the best record in the regular season. Their winning percentage? 71.4%. That’s not just a solid record, it’s astounding.
By comparison, the Colorado Avalanche won 65.7% of their games until the season ended due to the pandemic. That wasn’t quite as good as the Avs’ 2001 Stanley Cup championship season, where they won 67% of their regular-season games and eventually hoisted the Cup.
As impressive as these records might be, Rocky Mountain Gun Owners – and its campaign appendages, RMGO PAC and RMGO SuperPAC – have had an even better run over the past decade. Maybe the claims of RMGO’s demise are premature.
In the 2012-18 primary elections, RMGO has gone 22 of 27, or 81.4%. That record would far exceed most Stanley Cup-winning teams.
Like any champions, we’ve had our losing streaks, too.
With a flood of out-of-state money (from a Hillary Clinton megadonor), and a wave of mail from pop-up- take-down groups that hide behind innocuous names, the candidates RMGO favored for the Colorado legislature didn’t win the primary election in their typical ratio this June.
But what’s the goal of being involved in GOP primary races? For RMGO, it’s to push political parties into embracing an explicit, God-given civil right, and making it a priority.
When RMGO was formed, the Colorado legislature had Republican majorities but couldn’t pass any significant reforms on gun issues. The NRA handed out “A” ratings to Republicans like after-dinner mints and sprinkled money throughout the legislature like a ticker-tape parade. Still, the GOP majority blamed Democrats for inaction.
They claimed the gun issue as a whole would sink Republican candidates, often saying any legislator who dared to sponsor bills like “Vermont Carry” (which is now termed constitutional carry, or permitless carrying of handguns) was on a suicide run.
Compound that with then-Gov. Roy Romer threatening a veto of concealed carry legislation, and you can see why many activists saw no avenue out of the mess.
Instead of fighting harder, advocates settled comfortably into the GOP country club.
In one of the more ludicrous examples of “gun rights advocates” being lapdogs to the GOP, Sen. Dottie Wham – the Republican Judiciary Committee chairman who foiled every attempt at modest concealed carry reform for a decade – received the highest rating the NRA could bestow, even when her primary opponent was clearly a better choice for gun owners.
Wham sailed smoothly to victory and proceeded to deep-six even modest concealed carry legislation.
Then, RMGO was created in 1996 and completely changed the political landscape. Today, constitutional carry is a part of the Colorado GOP’s platform, and a litmus test for all but the furthest-left Republicans. How did that happen? By accident?
With a small but growing voice, determined to systematically hold politicians – especially safe-seat Republicans – accountable, RMGO set about the rather unpleasant task of telling gun owners they’d been lied to, and that so many of the “Republicans” they thought were on their side were, in fact, just interested in campaign donations, volunteers, and votes, but weren’t willing to stick their neck out for the public policy changes gun owners needed.
Twenty-four years later, few Colorado Republicans would be caught publicly endorsing gun controls or opposing the highest priorities of gun owners.
Even in the 2020 primaries, of the five contested legislative seats where RMGO was involved, every candidate answered our survey 100% pro-gun. Though RMGO’s endorsed candidates didn’t win, we secured written pledges from the likely office holders (they still have a general election) to support our entire agenda.
That doesn’t smell like failure to me. In fact, it sounds like a testament to our program and strategy. Even many of RMGO’s detractors have come around to our belief that voting pro-gun is both good policy and good politics.
Ultimately, what really counts to our members is RMGO moving forward – where possible – to repeal the 2013 magazine ban, to repeal the 2019 “Red Flag” gun law, or to join the 15 other states that enjoy constitutional carry.
Granted, Colorado’s changing demographics make it difficult for gun owners. Increasingly, Colorado’s voters are less partisan and more pragmatic.
That’s true of Colorado’s gun owners as well.
If you’ve stopped by your local gun shop over the past six months (and the facts say that many reading this article have done just that), you’ll see the ever-evolving face of the first-time gun buyer, and it isn’t what most expected.
Even the furthest-left Bernie Sanders supporters are now coming to the stark realization that they need to consider purchasing the tools required for self-defense.
The lawlessness that is so rampant of late answers the oft-repeated question of those who support gun control: “Who needs an AR-15, or a 30-round magazine?”
The growing answer to that supposedly rhetorical question is “Me!” and it’s coming from all ethnicities, both genders and every economic and political sector.
With the siren cry of the left to defund the police, and the unwillingness (or is it due to restrictions by politicians?) of law enforcement to react to genuine threats, many citizens have realized that a 30-round magazine, in a semiautomatic rifle, is precisely what they need to defend their family and community in these trying times.
Many of those same people are realizing the very laws they previously supported are hampering their ability to protect their families.
RMGO’s mission is to remove the restrictions these new gun owners are just now learning about when buying their first firearm.
In fighting for a God-given right, which is under a constant, everyday barrage, we plead guilty to being “bullies.” After all, who wants a teddy bear as a guard dog?
One longtime RMGO member, who himself was in his 90’s, put it this way while poking me in the chest, “Mr. Brown, if you don’t care enough about my grandkids’ gun rights to fight with everything you’ve got, then you need to find another job.”
That mandate, echoed by so many RMGO members, is precisely what drives me to work harder and smarter.
There will be naysayers, especially amongst the myriad former candidates for office whom RMGO has held accountable, and who now decry RMGO’s tenacity. They’d rather the organization act like the other lobbying groups at the Capitol — behaving as pets rather than advocates for a vision of freedom.
RMGO wears their criticism as a badge of honor since, to quote the Special Air Service’s bold motto, “Who dares wins.”
Now, enough messing around. On to the Stanley Cup!
Dudley Brown is the founder and now President of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners.
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