BY FREDA MIKLIN
Republican former state Rep. Cole Wist represented house district 37. Photo by Freda Miklin
The 2019 Extreme Risk Protection Order law, also known as the red flag bill, passed the Democrat-controlled state legislature and was signed into law by Democratic Governor Jared Polis on April 12. Many Republicans, including gun enthusiasts, saw it as an infringement of their constitutional rights. One person who supported the 2019 law was Douglas County Sheriff Tony Spurlock. A deputy in his department, Zack Parrish, was killed in June 2018 by a perpetrator whose previous behavior would have fit the description of someone whose weapons might well have been removed under this law.
The 2018 version of the red flag law was supported by many in law enforcement and by former state Rep. Cole Wist, a Republican who expressed his support at the time, primarily because he was moved by the circumstances surrounding the murder of Deputy Parrish. The bill failed to pass in the 2018 Republican-controlled state senate, making the differences between local Republicans on it moot.
State Rep. Tom Sullivan, who defeated incumbent Wist for the house in 2018, was a prime sponsor of the 2019 red flag bill. Sullivan’s son Alex was killed in the 2012 Aurora theater massacre. He ran for the legislature on a platform of gun-law reform.
Following passage of the bill this year, an effort was initiated by Kristi Burton Brown, vice chair of the Colorado Republican Party, to recall Sullivan because of his sponsorship of it. Additionally, the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO), a group considered to be more aggressively pro-gun than the NRA, announced it was going to sue to have the law overturned.
On May 14, in a highly unusual move, former Rep. Wist made a public statement opposing the recall effort targeting Sullivan. He tweeted, “I was in denial. Until yesterday. Last year, state GOP leadership failed to speak up to defend me when RMGO carpet-bombed my house district with negative flyers. Now, these same leaders pledge to work with RMGO to take out my successor [Sullivan] in a recall. I do not support this effort. It is unfortunate but crystal clear. RMGO owns the Colorado Republican Party.”
State GOP chief U. S. Rep. Ken Buck responded by issuing a statement saying that Brown was acting in her personal capacity pursuing a recall of Sullivan, not as a party official.
Those who know Wist are not surprised that he is speaking out honestly and directly about a matter of principle. He is known to have strong character and integrity.
2018 All Rights Reserved. Villager Publishing |