Rocky Mountain Gun Owners Walks Back Lobbyist’s Racially Charged Comments During Committee Hearing
Meghan Lopez, KMGH, February 8, 2023
Gun reform bills are debated by state lawmakers just about every year in the Colorado legislature. This year is no exception.
So far, four gun bills have been introduced, and more are on the way.
On Monday, two of those bills were debated in committee. One would expand immunity from criminal prosecution and civil liability for gun owners who use physical force in their business to protect themselves against unlawful intruders. The second would create a civil penalty for the enforcement or attempted enforcement of federal laws that infringe on the right to bear arms.
During Monday’s debate, a representative from Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO), Colorado’s largest gun lobby organization, gave public testimony, where he first spoke about gun rights and genocide.
“I cannot fathom why someone would say, ‘You know, the Jews would’ve still died in the Holocaust, so maybe they didn’t need their guns,'” said Kevin Lorusso. “You know what? Maybe they should have taken a couple of Nazis out on the way. Maybe it would’ve been good for them to have the ability to defend themselves. And that’s what this is all about.”
After finishing his comments, he was questioned by Rep. Kyle Brown, D-Louisville, about statistics involving gun deaths among children and adolescents in the U.S.
Brown cited a letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine that named firearms as the number one leading cause of death among children and adolescents.
“If you remove Black males in that age group from that, it is not true,” Lorusso replied. “That is a symptom of a different issue. The issue that is causing young Black males to be killed in their homes and on their streets is a very different issue. And most of those, I believe the number is 99%, but I’ll safely say 98% of those murders are committed with illegally acquired and illegally possessed firearms.”
Those comments have raised criticism from gun reform advocates.
In the hearing, Rep. Scott Bottoms, R-Colorado Springs, and Lorusso went on to claim that motor vehicle crashes were the number one cause of death among children.
RMGO has since walked back those comments. Executive Director Taylor Rhodes said in a statement to Denver7, “Monday, I allowed Kevin Lorusso, our most junior staffer, to testify on behalf of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners on two bills we knew were going to die in committee to get him experience in the public forum. If you have testified on behalf of a large organization, or even on behalf of yourself, this can be a very nerve-wracking exercise. In his testimony, he misspoke when discussing a heated topic surrounding the gun issue. Rocky Mountain Gun Owners will continually support and defend the Second Amendment freedoms of all law-abiding Coloradans.”
The statement went on to say that RMGO will not provide any more interviews or statements on the topic but will continue to fight for gun rights at the Colorado State Capitol.
Jason Goldstick, a statistician and associate professor of emergency medicine at the University of Michigan, was the lead author of the letter that discussed in the committee hearing. He says the data is clear that firearms have overtaken car crashes as the lead cause of death among American youth.
“If you look at the race breakdown, yes, there are massive health disparities here. Black youth are definitely at higher risk than non-Hispanic white or Hispanic white, or Native American (youth),” Goldstick said.