When Republican Rep. Mike Coffman held a town hall meeting Tuesday night in Greenwood Village, Colorado, he was met with angry constituents who booed and jeered as he attempted to lead discussion on state and federal gun laws.
According to the Associated Press, those present were upset with Coffman's voting record and donations from the National Rifle Association. When the congressman called for a moment of silence to honor last week's school shooting victims, one member of the crowd yelled, "We're done with thoughts and prayers!"
And it comes as no real surprise:
Coffman’s swing district in the Denver suburbs is all too familiar with mass shootings. A few miles to the northeast of the high school that hosted Tuesday’s town hall is the location of the Aurora theater massacre, where 13 people were shot to death in 2012. A few miles to the southwest of the town hall site, just across the district line, is Columbine High School, the site of the 1999 school shooting that killed 12.
Despite these two shootings, gun control legislation has not been a 'front burner' issue for Democrats - but that could be changing after Florida's school shooting.
Patti Seno, 53, broke into tears as she recounted how her husband, a firefighter, was on the scene of the Columbine shooting and an attack at a nearby school in 2013 that killed one student. Her son had planned to see a midnight showing of the new Batman movie the night that the gunman attacked the audience in Aurora. Yet, she told Coffman, she hadn’t spoken out until watching students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Florida, campaign for new gun laws.
“I am ashamed, as it took children to shake me from my comfort zone to come forward to say enough is enough,” said Seno, a Democrat. “An avalanche is coming to Washington, sir, and it is going to be led by our children.”
Coffman spent a great deal of time defending his votes on gun-related legislation - like his yes vote on a bill that would require states with stricter gun regulations to honor the concealed-carry permits from other states, and his support for repealing Obama administration rules that would have kept guns from people unable to manage their own Social Security benefits.
But the congressman also fielded some tough questions about where he stands on enacting laws that protect the public as opposed to the gun owner.
Coffman said he was willing to discuss “reasonable restrictions within the parameters of the Second Amendment,” a statement that drew fierce boos from the crowd. He repeatedly declined to back an assault-weapons ban but said he’d consider “red flag” laws that would allow the temporary confiscation of firearms from those judged to be a threat to themselves or others.
Coffman said was going to meet with school safety and law enforcement officials and suggested the government beef up school security — another statement that infuriated the audience. Asked what he would do if he found his personal principles conflicting with the desires of his constituents, Coffman drew more boos when he said he thought they matched pretty well.