Archive for July, 2013

Martin, Zimmerman, and Race Relations on Devils Advocate TV

Posted by on Jul 29 2013 | Idiot Box (TV Show)

Last Friday, I was joined by attorney and former Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives Terrance Carroll and Derrick Wilburn from American Conservatives of Color for a discussion of race, Trayvon Martin, and the George Zimmerman trial verdict.

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Martin/Zimmerman Trial & Race Issues on Devils Advocate Tonight

Posted by on Jul 26 2013 | Idiot Box (TV Show)

Friday night means public affairs TV with the Independence Institute on Colorado Public Television 12. First at 8:00, catch Executive Vice President Amy Oliver on Colorado Inside Out. Then stay tuned for Devil’s Advocate at 8:30 as I am joined by attorney and former Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives Terrance Carroll and Derrick Wilburn from American Conservatives of Color for a discussion about race, Trayvon Martin and the George Zimmerman trial verdict. That starts tonight at 8:00 on CPT12.

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Education TV: Learn From the Best

Posted by on Jul 24 2013 | education, Idiot Box (TV Show)

I just had two extremely smart women on my TV show to talk about education issues in Colorado. First up was our Education Policy Center director Pam Benigno. She schooled me on tax credits for K-12 education. Apparently, there are is a special tax credit that helps disadvantaged students get a better education.

Next up was Krista Kafer. She schooled me on the rise of blended learning – which is just a fancy way of saying, “using modern technology in and out of the classroom.”

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Political Off Season? What’s That?

Posted by on Jul 23 2013 | Idiot Box (TV Show), Politics

The legislative session ended and we’re supposed to be in the political off season. But in reality, there is no political off season. Especially on my TV show, Devils Advocate. In case you missed this recent episode where I discuss political happenings during the “downtime” with Fox31′s Eli Stokols and Tim Hoover of the Denver Post, check it out here:

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Morgan and Douglas County: Our Gun Show is Coming to You!

Posted by on Jul 16 2013 | Events, Gun shows, guns, Second Amendment, U.S. Constitution

We’ve been all over this beautiful state on our Colorado and the Second Amendment road show featuring lead attorney and Second Amendment scholar Dave Kopel and various sheriffs. However, there are two more locations we’re headed to this week: Morgan and Douglas Counties.

We will be in Morgan County TOMORROW, Wednesday, July 17th. For more details and to RSVP ($5), go here. Check out the event flyer here.

We will be in Douglas County this Thursday, July 18th. For more details and to RSVP ($5), go here. Check out the event flyer here.

So far we’ve sold out every place we’ve been, so don’t wait to RSVP online!

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Update on Colorado Gun Lawsuit Successes

Posted by on Jul 12 2013 | guns, Second Amendment, U.S. Constitution

I wanted to give you an update on how our lawsuit against the new anti-gun bills is going. We are pleased to announce that we’ve had a couple major victories on two of worst aspects of the bills: “continuous possession” and “readily convertible.” See the video below to hear some more details. To keep up with the technical details of the case, visit

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First Major Success in Lawsuit Challenging New Gun Control Laws

Posted by on Jul 10 2013 | guns, Kopelization, Second Amendment, U.S. Constitution

Today the Independence Institute’s federal civil rights lawsuit achieved its first major success, eliminating the problems that were caused by two vague phrases in House Bill 1224, the magazine ban.

The Independence Institute’s David Kopel is representing 55 elected Sheriffs and one retired police officer in lawsuit against the new anti-gun laws signed by Governor Hickenlooper last March.

Tuesday night, on the eve of a federal court hearing, the plaintiffs and the Colorado Attorney General agreed on proposal to fix two problems the magazine ban.

First, the magazine ban applies to magazines which are “designed to be readily converted” to hold more than 15 rounds. This could outlaw some or all magazines which have removable base plates; if a base plate is removed, an extender can be attached to a magazine that will increase the magazine’s capacity.

The Attorney General agreed to issue new guidance to state law enforcement that will remedy this problem. The new language says that magazines with removable base plates are only illegal if they have actually been altered so that they do hold more than 15 rounds. “Unless so altered, they are not prohibited.”

The second problem, which has also been fixed, was that House Bill 1224 required the grandfathered owners of magazines to maintain “continuous possession.” This outlawed many innocent and constitutionally protected activities, such as leaving magazine for a gunsmith for two weeks while it is repaired, or loaning a magazine to a family member.

The Attorney General agreed to fix this problem by issuing additional guidance to law enforcement, stating that: “‘Continuous possession’ is only lost by a voluntary relinquishment of dominion and control.” “Dominion” is a legal term for the highest level of ownership rights. So if you loan your magazine to your daughter for a week, and she does not have the right to sell the magazine, then you still have “dominion.”

The practical result of the new language is that owners of grandfathered magazines can now engage in all lawful activities with those magazines, including loaning them to friends and family. The grandfathered owners simply may not sell the magazines, or give away ownership.

For the Sheriffs, this means that they can now return a stolen magazine to its rightful owner.

The successful resolution of these issues was achieved by voluntary agreement with the Attorney General. However, that agreement never would have happened without the pressure of the preliminary injunction motion which we filed on June 10, as well as our subsequent filings and briefs.

Because the Attorney General did, ultimately, voluntarily agree to put these changes into Technical Guidance which is binding on the executive branch of the state government, U.S. District Judge Marcia Krieger decided that it would be unnecessary for her to issue an injunction.

With these two issues now resolved, we are beginning preparation for a full trial on the merits. The trial will be our challenge to the entirety of the unconstitutional anti-gun laws:

  • House Bill 1224 bans the sale of magazines holding more than 15 rounds. We will argue and present evidence that this violates the Second Amendment, as interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller. The Heller decision forbids bans on arms which are “Typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes.” We will show magazines of up to 20 rounds for handguns, and up to 30 rounds for rifles, are standard for many popular firearms, and thus protected under Heller.
  • House Bill 1229 imposes paperwork, fee, and background check requirements on many ordinary uses of guns–such as loaning a gun to a friend for a week when he goes on a hunting trip. We will argue and present evidence that it is unconstitutional to treat temporary firearms loans as if they were firearms sales made by a gun store.

Today’s success shows that our legal strategy is working. We have removed the problems of two badly misdrafted provisions in the magazine ban. If we have the proper resources to take the rest of the case to a full trial on the merits, we are hopeful that we can liberate Colorado entirely from House Bills 1224 and 1229, which are unconstitutional and harmful to public safety.

(Click image to donate)

This is just the first victory in a looooong fight. We need your help. Please donate to help us fight this battle HERE. Thank you all so much.

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My Love/Hate of Children’s Hospital

Posted by on Jul 09 2013 | Purely Personal

I have a love/hate relationship with Children’s Hospital.

I have told you about the magic that Children’s Hospital works keeping kids like my son Chance, who deals with Down Syndrome, alive. Thanks to Children’s, the heart surgery he had at three weeks old saved his life. In the nine years that followed Children’s performed another 10–yes, Ten–surgeries on him. And Lord, I couldn’t tell you how many times he’s been there to take tests, bravely give blood samples, having wires tying him down, and getting poked and prodded by people who somehow make it a game for him.

Children’s is, and will be for years, critical to keeping Chance Caldara alive and thriving. I am forever in debt to the dedicated people who invested in Children’s Hospital before my need for the place. And I need them to continue their magic.

But I also despise Children’s Hospital. It was the scene of the most horrific event of my life: watching my little girl suffer in confusion and pain.

Parker was our only child when a ravenous cancer ripped through her tender little body. The CAT scan taken in a Boulder hospital showed a lemon-sized tumor in her tiny little head. Before we could even digest that thought, they strapped her to a gurney, unnecessarily immobilizing her for a horror-filled ambulance ride to Children’s. She was screaming in fright all the way down, and we couldn’t even hold her. But the real ugliness started when we got to the worst place on Earth: the old Children’s Hospital in Denver.

Cramped and uncomfortable in that dilapidated old building, we tried to comfort Parker through the MRI, which showed the cancer had metastasized into her spine. The next day we kissed her before they put her under for the surgery to take a biopsy and install a drainage tube deep into her brain. It was in that God-forsaken waiting room, crowded with strangers, where the surgeon came out to tell us the cancer was incurable. Later, in a hellish recovery room, I walked in to see my little girl lying there with tubes coming in and out of her, and covered by tangles of wires and cords. It made it nearly impossible to even hold her as she cried. We were assigned to a dark, small room, shared with another sick child and her family, without anywhere for us to sleep except on the floor. It was that hideous place where days later the doctors pulled off the wires, removed the drainage tube from her skull, all so we could take her home to die.

She died only days from her first birthday.

I would have given anything to have blown up that awful building in Denver. But it was the wisdom and generosity of donors big and small that did something much better. They created the new, state-of-the-art Children’s Hospital in Aurora and continued to staff with it the most talented and courageous people.

You can see: I love everything about Children’s, it gives my son hope. I hate everything about Children’s, they couldn’t do the completely impossible and save my daughter.

In a weird way, taking my son to Children’s keeps me connected to the daughter I miss. There is some poetry there. It’s odd to say, but comforts me.

My late daughter and my disabled son will never meet in this world. But one of the most beautiful ways to connect these two beautiful children came from a friend and coworker here at Independence. A few years back, Tracy Smith, our gifted graphic artist, rode the “Courage Classic,” a bike ride over the Colorado Rockies to raise money for Children’s Hospital. She named her team, “Team Parker,” after my little girl.

Tracy honored and remembered my lost daughter at the same time raising money for Children’s Hospital so that kids like my son have a fighting chance for a healthy life. Now that is poetry.

Last year “Team Parker” raised over $12,000.00 for Children’s Hospital. I am asking you to help Tracy and her team of Independence Institute employees and friends raise one dollar more this year.

I never could have imagined my children would become so dependent on the Children’s Hospital. And I know it’s not a pleasant thought, but children you love may someday become dependent on it too when you least expect it.

Please, for Parker’s memory, for Chance’s life, would you please invest in this incredible hospital right now? Go to to sponsor Tracy or another team member at

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Congratulations Rob Natelson!

Posted by on Jul 09 2013 | Constitutional History, Constitutional Law, Constitutional Theory, The Founders, U.S. Constitution

Rob Natelson, our Senior Fellow in Constitutional Jurisprudence, was just cited in the U.S. Supreme Court. In June, Justice Thomas cited Rob’s work by name 12 times in two separate cases — an exceedingly rare honor for a legal scholar. This month, the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy published Rob’s short article on the constitutional amendment process. As its name suggests, the Harvard Journal is one of the nation’s most prestigious law reviews. The same journal has agreed to publish Rob’s ground-breaking article on the original meaning of the Recess Appointments Clause — a section of the Constitution now front and center in the debate over President Obama’s practice of appointing officials without the Senate approval.

Rob also is in increasing demand as a speaker. On June 14, he keynoted a national program in Colorado Springs for the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. In July, he’s presenting several programs in Montana. And in August, he’ll give addresses on the Constitution to two national organizations of state lawmakers—the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council and the more liberally-leaning National Conference of State Legislatures. Rob also regularly gives talks for Colorado citizens’ groups and is a regular on two Colorado radio shows and one in Montana.

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Ed Tax Hike Proponents Revive 49th in Spending Lie

Posted by on Jul 05 2013 | education, Taxes

Why are proponents of a statewide billion-dollar education tax initiative clinging to a repeatedly debunked untruth? Petition gatherers for the group Colorado Commits are wearing shirts that say: “Colorado, 49th in Education Spending.” One young man clad in the shirt said only Alabama ranked lower. The problem is neither statement turns out to be true. And campaign organizers should know better. Writing last August for Colorado Watchdog, Ben DeGrow directly took Colorado Commits to task for several other misstatements of school funding facts. But now they’re literally wearing a fallacy he has refuted time after time.

It started seven years ago with his Independence Institute publication “Counting the Cash” (also updated in 2008), which showed how the already-outdated “49th” statistic measured spending as a share of personal income. One of the best ways to increase Colorado’s ranking would be to banish some of the highest earners from the state. If you go by that same logic today, we fall at either 43rd or 47th. “Counting the Cash” also identified at least 10 different states that year which claimed to be 49th in education funding. On his own blog, DeGrow debunked the fallacy in 2007 and in 2008. The Institute’s Ed Is Watching blog stepped up to demolish the myth in 2009, and again in 2012.

Several different sources measure education dollars and cents. They say Colorado ranks somewhere between 26th and 40th nationally in per-pupil spending. Among neighboring states in our region, Colorado stands at or above average. Depending on which source you consult, we spend somewhere between $8,724 and $10,783 a year per student—and those numbers don’t include construction costs, debt financing, or deferred pension promises that taxpayers must fund. Colorado’s decades of pre-Great Recession K-12 spending increases typically were not as big as many other states, leaving us below the average in financial outputs but toward the front of the pack in student learning results. While Colorado clearly is not 49th in education funding, the unanswered question remains: How much money is enough?

This article originally appeared on Complete Colorado’s Page 2, July 4, 2013.

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