Strong support for the Second Amendment, opposition to higher taxes on corporations, and rejection of so-called vaccine passports were among the main themes of a tele-town hall with Rep. Ken Buck on the evening of April 27.
Buck represents Colorado’s 4th Congressional District, which covers roughly the eastern third of the state and includes his hometown of Greeley. He invited members of the public to join him by phone for the town hall, a favored format among elected leaders during the pandemic that, as was the case Tuesday evening, often features a series of friendly, pre-screened questions.
Buck did, however, make his position known on several matters of interest during the conversation.
Much of the discussion was about guns, and the first question a constituent put to Buck was, “What are you doing to protect our Second Amendment rights from being taken away?”
Buck blamed former President Barack Obama and President Joe Biden for spurring people to buy guns, because those leaders “keep blaming guns for all of the violence.”
He said the March 22 shooting at a King Soopers in south Boulder, in which 10 people were killed, was “extremely sad.” But he suggested the shooting was more the result of a failure to identify mental health issues in the alleged shooter than of inadequate gun laws.
“The gun that that man used is owned by well over a million and a half Americans, and the guns don’t do damage unless someone that’s really unstable, mentally deranged, is willing to go out and commit a crime like that,” Buck said, referring to the Ruger AR-556 pistol, a type of assault weapon, used by the alleged Boulder shooter.
After the Boulder shooting, Biden called for a return to a nationwide assault weapons ban, which was in place for 10 years starting in 1994, and a statewide assault weapons ban has been discussed by some Colorado lawmakers. Buck opposes a ban.
“It didn’t work last time, and it won’t work this time,” Buck said. “Defining a weapon as an assault weapon is nonsense. They are weapons that are used every day by hard-working farmers and ranchers and others in rural America to shoot predators that are attacking livestock … Those weapons are important to our way of life, and I will absolutely defend an individual’s right to carry those weapons.”
He also said he opposed Colorado’s “red flag” law, which allows law enforcement to confiscate firearms from a person who represents a risk as determined by a judge.
Last month Biden released a nearly $2 trillion infrastructure plan, which would be funded in part by a corporate tax hike.
“I will not support higher taxes and I will not support higher taxes on corporations,” Buck said during the town hall.
Several callers asked Buck about his position on vaccine passports, which would demonstrate whether the passport holder has been vaccinated for COVID-19. The Biden administration has said it believes it’s not the government’s role to create a centralized database of vaccinated Americans, but as some universities and other institutions announce vaccination requirements, privacy concerns have emerged among some Americans.
“I am opposed to a vaccine passport. I think that people need to make a decision whether they want to get this vaccine or not,” Buck said. “And there are many young people who are healthy, that are making a rational decision not to get the vaccine. And I think that if they make that decision, the government should not penalize them by setting up a vaccine passport.”
In response to a question about energy, Buck dismissed wind and solar power as a viable method to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“We have folks that believe that wind and solar are the answers,” he said. “Natural gas has been the answer to reducing carbon emissions in this country for a couple of decades now. And we need to double-down on our natural gas production and use, and we will continue to see reduced carbon emissions. And I believe the same thing with coal. We will find cleaner and cleaner ways to burn coal that are much less expensive than wind and solar.”
He added he’s in favor of wind and solar power if they “can compete in an all-of-the-above energy economy.”
Asked about a proposed Colorado ballot initiative that would curb what it defines as animal cruelty but which ranchers say would severely affect their livelihood, Buck said, “I think it would absolutely decimate areas of our economy that are really important.”