Recalls Give Colorado Gun-Rights Group Clout

Image: Recalls Give Colorado Gun-Rights Group Clout In this May 24 file photo, Paradise Firearms in Colorado Springs invites customers to sign a recall petition against Democratic State Senate President John Morse.

Wednesday, 13 Nov 2013 09:53 PM

By John Gizzi

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Two months after they played a pivotal role in the recall of two Colorado state senators who had helped pass gun-control legislation, Dudley Brown and the National Association for Gun Rights are fast becoming one of the premier political forces in the nation on behalf of the right to keep and bear arms.

"That's because we strive to make our opponents pay for every damn inch they try to take. They are going to own gun control," said Brown, a onetime staffer for conservative former Republican Sen. Bill Armstrong of Colorado and a gun lobbyist for more than 20 years. "We apologize for nothing. We don't believe in compromise as a strategy for protecting our constitutional rights.

"What upsets our opponents is we have mobilized millions of small donors and we're building an organization that lasts," said Brown, the group's executive vice president.

In an exclusive interview with Newsmax, Brown pointed out that 13 years after it was founded, the association has more than 3.5 million members and supporters nationwide and jumped from $7 million in gross receipts in 2012 to $15 million in 2013.

Brown, who doubles as head of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, told Newsmax: "No one knows how to mobilize our substantial membership through the social media market the way we do."

Noting the growth and political clout of the organization, some observers in Colorado and Washington have suggested that the young gun-owners group someday could exceed the National Rifle Association in terms of size and influence on the Second Amendment issue.

Brown won't go that far, and agreed that the NRA "name and brand is massive."
But he quickly added, that "they are too much wed to 'inside baseball' – working with the politicians who are already in office rather than changing the dynamic in Congress. Almost every penny we raise goes toward fighting gun control."

Federal lobbying records show that the National Association for Gun Rights was a leader in the fight against gun control following the school shooting at Newtown, Conn. The group spent millions on lobbying, TV ads, and citizen mobilization to defeat the Feinstein assault-weapons ban and the Toomey-Manchin gun-registration amendment, and stalling the U.N. Small Arms Treaty.

"I'm proud to work in Congress with leaders like Rand Paul and Mike Lee, and Thomas Massie, Steve Stockman and Jim Bridenstine in the House," Brown said.

The organization flexed its considerable political muscle this summer, when its volunteers helped gather enough signatures to secure a recall vote for state Senate President John Morse of Colorado Springs and state Sen. Angela Giron of Pueblo.

"While the fights over gun control got most of the attention this year, in many cases the gun owners faced worse threats on the state level. Many gun owners live under more oppression from state restrictions than federal," Brown said.

The successful recall of Morse and Giron was a major rebuke to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who spent millions to influence the Colorado legislature.

Both lawmakers had voted for tougher gun-control legislation following the Aurora, Colo., theater shooting and the Newtown school shootings in 2012.
Both Democratic lawmakers were recalled and replaced by Republicans.

Morse lost by a margin of 52 percent to 48 percent and, in results that were particularly dramatic, Giron went down by a margin of 54 percent to 46 percent in one of the most reliably Democratic bastions of the state.

With their defeats, the 35-member state Senate's makeup is now 18 Democrats and 17 Republicans.

Now Brown and his eager volunteers are gathering signatures to force a recall election of Democratic state Sen. Edie Hudak early next year.

"She's one of the loudest anti-gun members of the legislature. She's a stooge of Michael Bloomberg," Brown said.

While noting that a third successful recall effort would give Republicans control of the state Senate, Brown said "the party didn't do a thing to assist on the recalls and, in some cases, these so-called Republicans leaders argued against them."

Politics has been in Brown's blood for most of his life. Raised in South Dakota, he was the son of a petroleum engineer who took his young family to Libya to work when pro-U.S. King Idris was on the throne in Tripoli.

Brown was state chairman of the College Republicans at Colorado State University and, after a stint with Sen. Armstrong, went to work as a gun lobbyist in the state legislature in Denver.

This experience was nothing short of an epiphany for the self-styled "gun nut" who shoots machine guns and instructs classes on gun use.

"I watched the institutional gun lobby hand out 'A' ratings to legislators who were clearly working against the Second Amendment like after-dinner mints," he said. "I thought this was a disaster for gun owners and decided to start my own group."

Loving Colorado as he does, Brown — a husband, father of two, and a player on a local hockey team — has long resisted efforts to move to Washington and, as he put it, "lose a shade of freedom." However, he did finally agree to NAGR opening a Washington office.

"We may not have made any friends amongst Senate staffers," Brown said. "But our members made their voices heard loud and clear through the halls of Congress.

John Gizzi is chief political correspondent and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

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