Colorado Senator Cory Gardner is widely considered the most vulnerable Republican up for reelection. 13 Colorado Democrats– of all stripes– are running for the nomination to take him on.
The elephant in the room is that former Governor Frackenlooper has just dropped out of his dismally failed presidential run and– encouraged by Chuck Schumer– is about to announce for the Senate seat, into which he expects to waltz.
Frackenlooper isn’t nearly as popular with Democrats in Colorado as he is with Democrats in DC. Blue America has just endorsed former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff who served as president and CEO of Mental Health Colorado between 2015 and this year.
I asked Andrew to introduce himself to Blue America with a guest post on mental health and the gun problem in this country. He knows a lot more about it than most politicians of either political party. Please read it and see if you agree with us that this is a guy who would make a really excellent U.S. senator.
Unlike Gardner or Frackenlooper, Andrew is committed to Medicare-for-All, the Green New Deal, to banning the sale of assault weapons, to raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour and to free public colleges and universities.
Gardner and Frackenlooper are corporate shills who represent big money interests, not everyday Coloradans. There aren’t many candidates Blue America has endorsed for Senate this cycle but the thermometer above right will take you to our page for them. Please consider contributing to Andrew’s campaign if you like what he had to say in this guest post.
Mental Illness Is Not The Explanation For Gun Violence In America
by Andrew Romanoff
“How do parents go school shopping and then die shielding their baby from bullets?”
That’s what Elizabeth Terry asked last week, in the wake of a mass shooting in El Paso. Elizabeth’s niece, Jordan Anchondo, and her husband Andre sacrificed their lives to protect their infant son.
The horror stories in Gilroy, El Paso, and Dayton were agonizingly familiar. We again find ourselves– as we did here in Colorado, after Littleton, Aurora, and Highlands Ranch– devastated by grief and desperate for leadership.
Washington offered little comfort on either front.
Donald Trump– who has used both his candidacy and his presidency to fan the flames of racism– blamed the massacres on mental illness. His explanation ignores both the evidence at hand and his own role in inciting violence and blocking gun safety.
Let’s get a few things straight. First, white supremacy is an ideology, not a diagnosis.
Second, most people with mental illness are not violent; they are, in fact, far more likely to be the victims of crime than the perpetrators.
Third, mental illness is not unique to the United States. Nor are video games, violent movies, or any of the other culprits the NRA and its apologists like to cite, in their attempt to divert our attention.
The most obvious explanation for gun violence in America is our massive arsenal of firearms– and our unwillingness to impose even modest restrictions on their availability.
To be clear, it’s not Americans who are unwilling. It’s the politicians who (mis)represent us.
Take my opponent, Sen. Cory Gardner.
Gardner is the fifth biggest beneficiary of NRA money in the entire Congress. The gun lobby has spent $4 million to keep him in office.
It was a shrewd investment. Gardner has voted against every proposal to reduce the risk of gun violence.
Universal background checks? Magazine limits? An assault weapons ban?
Gardner says no, no, and no. He reiterated his opposition last week.
Gardner’s stance puts him at odds with the vast majority of his constituents. An estimated 97 percent of Americans support universal background checks, not because such laws will stop every shooting– no law can do that– but because they will decrease the death toll.
It’s been nearly six months since the House passed legislation requiring universal background checks. The Senate has done nothing.
If we’re serious about saving lives, we should also address the gun deaths in which mental illness does play a role: suicide.
I spent the past four years as the president and CEO of Mental Health Colorado, the state’s leading advocate for the prevention and treatment of mental health and substance use disorders. It’s a cause I championed as the speaker of the Colorado House– and one that became profoundly personal for me on Jan. 1, 2015.
That’s when my cousin Melissa died by suicide. She would have turned 40 this month, if the stigma of mental illness had not stopped her from seeking help.
Suicides account for two-thirds of gun deaths in America and three-quarters in Colorado. Preventing suicide will require us not only to expand access to mental health care but also to limit access to weapons.
Colorado took a step in that direction this year by authorizing judges to issue extreme risk protection orders. I was proud to lead Mental Health Colorado in supporting that measure for the first time.
Our state’s progress, however, is no substitute for the national leadership we still need. Nor does trumpeting mental health care let the NRA or Donald Trump off the hook.
When you block gun reform and embolden extremists, you should not be surprised when violence follows. In the meantime, the Anchondos’ six-year-old daughter will keep asking for her mom and dad.