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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirMarch 6, 20182min910

Personable but plucky Colorado political operative Laura Carno wears a lot of hats, all tipped to the right. One of them involves serving as face and voice for right-to-arms group Coloradans for Civil Liberties, whose take-no-prisoners motto unflinchingly advocates, “Restoring freedom one round at a time.” And she regularly touts that priority far and wide.

Coloradans for Civil Liberties runs the FASTER program, which helps train faculty and staff at participating Colorado school districts in the use of firearms in crisis situations.

Last week, Carno took her message to national TV on Fox News’s Ingraham Angle for a debate over arming schoolteachers and staff, which Coloradans for Civil Liberties supports. She faced off with Mo Canady, executive director of the National Association of School Resource Officers in the wake of the Parkland, Florida shooting massacre.

Canady told host and conservative provocateur Laura Ingraham his organization is against armed teachers and prefers that a law officer be based on each school campus to fend off another calamity like the one in Parkland last month.

But Carno said relying on one campus officer to get to the scene — to say nothing of a police force that could be blocks or miles away — could cost valuable time: “The faster you stop the shooter, the fewer people die.”

Watch the full debate (it’s brief) above.

Last month, a committee in the Democratic-controlled Colorado House of Representatives killed Republican legislation that would have let concealed-weapon permit holders carry guns on school grounds.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJanuary 2, 20182min729

Fees are more than doubling for Colorado gun buyers paying for the required background check by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, and news of the hike isn’t sitting at all well with at least one groups that advocates for the right to arms. Coloradans for Civil Liberties, helmed by center-right activist Laura Carno, fired off a press statement of its displeasure:

“Fee increases like this hurt the poor and those on fixed incomes the hardest,” said Laura Carno, Executive Director of Coloradans for Civil Liberties. “The Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) should prioritize its budget and find efficiencies in order to not raise fees to those purchasing firearms in Colorado.”

CBI explains on its website:

This fee is reviewed by the CBI to determine if any adjustments are necessary. Considerations for adjusting the fee may include the projected number of firearm background check requests, changes in staffing levels to meet expected demand, and/or IT system enhancements that are needed in the operation of the InstaCheck Unit.

… Upon examining the expenses, the CBI has determined a re-calibration of the fee is necessary to maintain current service levels to InstaCheck customers.  Therefore, beginning Thursday, February 1, 2018 at 12:01 A.M. (MST), the CBI will increase the fee for a firearm background check from $6.00 to $15.00 (USD).

But for Carno, it’s kind of like a backdoor tax hike on firearms owners:

“Purchasing a firearm is an integral part of our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. The State government should look to reduce the financial burden on those choosing to exercise that right” …

The fee also has gone down in the past, from $10 to $6 in 2016, “… to comply with the excess reserve statute.”


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Joey BunchJoey BunchOctober 12, 20173min3461

 

A ballot question in November would fund major stormwater improvements in Colorado Springs, but taxpayers are tired of getting soaked, according to a non-opposition group that’s rolling out a radio and digital ad campaign against Question 2A on the November ballot.

“The mayor and a majority of City Council have asked for more money six times in just over two years,” Laura Carno, a conservative activist and founder of SpringsTaxpayers.com founder, said in a statement. “We found a catchy and memorable way to point that out, with a fictional game show called Tax-A-Holic.”

The ad pits a caricature of Mayor John Suthers, a prominent state Republican, against Bill Clinton. (“Bill Clinton is my name and big spending is my game.”)

Question 2A, if voters approve it, would assess residential property owners and renters and extra $5 on monthly utility bills, while non-residential property owners would pay a monthly $30 per acre for the next 20 years.

The city needs $460 million to make stormwater improvements to make sure Pueblo gets the water its entitled to via the the Southern Delivery System pipeline, as well as to satisfy a lawsuit by the Environmental Protection Agency over the city’s neglected drainage system.

The city is making piecemeal improvements using money from its General Fund budget. Suthers and two-thirds of the City Council reportedly back the proposed stormwater fees.

The measure would free up $17 million a year in the city budget, which could be used to hire more police and firefighters, Question 2A supporters contend.

“We need 100 to 120 more cops in the next five years,” Suthers told Colorado Springs TV station KOAA.

And for what it’s worth, Bill Clinton’s game wasn’t big spending. He presided over the second-lowest rate of growth in federal spending during his presidency in the past seven decades, 1.5 percent a year, second to Barack Obama at 1.3 percent, according to the conservative Cato Institute. The big spenders were Lyndon Johnson at 5.6 percent with George W. Bush and John F. Kennedy tied for second at 4.6 percent … for what it’s worth. Clinton did it by working with Republicans on welfare reform, defense cuts and trade deals, with a tailwind of a strong economy in his second term.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirSeptember 3, 201714min805

Laura Carno’s political views probably could be summed up in four words: Government ruins nearly everything. In fact, that’s the title of her book. It also says a lot about the campaigns and causes she embraces.

The El Paso County-based author, political consultant and all-around activist on the right, who was instrumental in the recall of the Colorado Senate’s Democratic president several years ago, is perhaps best known these days as the point person for FASTER. That’s the headline-making effort to train faculty and staff at Colorado’s public schools in the use of firearms to defend their campuses. The program warms hearts on the right and, to say the least, raises eyebrows on the left. But Carno — who called out anti-gun billionaire Michael Bloomberg for his $350,000 donation opposing the 2013 recall — isn’t one to let push-back push her back. Here’s more — on that fight; on her book; on the right to arms, and on facing off with fellow Republicans — in today’s Q&A.

Colorado Politics: What first lured you into politics? Were you always right-of-center?

Laura Carno: I have always leaned libertarian — believing that people know what’s best for their life situation — certainly better than any politician or bureaucrat. I never thought that politics would be a career pursuit for me. I tripped and fell into politics in 2008, believing that a Republican President would be better for our Second Amendment freedoms than a Democrat President.

CP: What inspired the name of your firm, “I Am Created Equal”?

LC: In a nod to the Declaration of Independence, I Am Created Equal means just this: I, the citizen, am created equal to the politician. They aren’t endowed with any birthright to make decisions about how I live my life. We have gotten so far from the original meaning of that phrase, where now we see government making even small decisions for us — like what kind of light bulb I should be allowed to use in my home. And it makes big decisions for us — like what kind of tool I may or may not be allowed to choose for my own self-defense.

I find it strange that we even have such a thing today as the “political class,” as if they are different or better than the people they govern. I see my job as one of reminding people just how far we have strayed from the original idea that ordinary citizens are equal to politicians.

CP: You wear a lot of hats, including as co-founder of Coloradans for Civil Liberties, which brought the FASTER gun and medical training program to Colorado for school faculty and staff. Some say it’s a realistic response to mass school shootings; others say you’ve got to be nuts. How do you respond to pushback at the idea of weapons training for teachers?

LC: Since 2004, it has been legal in Colorado for school boards to authorize members of their staff to be armed first responders on their K-12 campus. Many dozens of school districts have done just that, knowing that the faster a shooter is stopped, the fewer people die or are injured. Even law enforcement knows that if they were in their patrol car in a school parking lot when a school shooting started, people are likely to die before they would be able to stop the shooter.

Remember that FASTER stands for Faculty/Administrator Safety Training & Emergency Response. It is world-class training for school staff that volunteer for the program.

People on both sides of this issue agree that more training is better than less training. We are training a curriculum that was developed by law enforcement officers in Ohio with experience responding to mass-casualty events. Our Colorado training team is also made up of law enforcement officers with experience in mass casualty events, even one with experience in responding to a school shooting. FASTER goes way beyond firearms skills, and places significant emphasis on the medical skills necessary to treat gunshot wounds while waiting for medical professionals to be cleared to enter the building.

We continue to raise money to be able to offer this training for free for schools and districts that don’t have the budget for this sort of training.

Those few people saying I’m nuts are those who would like fewer guns in America, or no guns in America. They are attacking a policy that has been in place and has worked for 13 years with no adverse incidents. I am offering free training to these armed heroes. Sounds practical, not nuts.

CP: Advocating for the right to arms seems to be a recurring theme in the projects you’ve taken on over the years. That includes the successful recall you helped lead of Colorado Springs Democratic Senate President John Morse.

LC: The recall of Senators John Morse and Angela Giron in 2013 was an example of reminding politicians that they don’t have the right to make decisions for us about how we choose to defend ourselves. In the recall election, our campaign popularized the slogans, “Politicians are not kings,” and “Don’t you dare tell me how to defend myself.” Because my face was on local TV with those messages, I would run in to people in the grocery store who had seen the ads. A common comment was that even if they didn’t own a gun or never planned to own a gun, it wasn’t some politician’s job to make that decision for them. They got the bigger picture.

It was also during that recall election that I learned just how aggressive some of the opposition could be in trying to silence me. The number of threats I received to my personal safety (including one that ended in a criminal conviction) would make anyone think about how they should defend themselves.

CP: You take on Republicans, too. Your website touts your work advocating against tax increases — in Colorado Springs, of all places. Do you draw fire for going after members of your own party? How do you deal with it?

LC: Let’s just say there are some cocktail parties I am no longer invited to! I also think this is what makes me an effective advocate for the taxpayer. I am more loyal to principle than to a particular party, and when I see politicians stray from core principles of freedom, liberty and equal treatment under the law, then I will call them out, and let the voters decide.

Politicians aren’t endowed with a birthright to make decisions for me in my life. That includes how I spend my money. Every time they raise a tax, fee, utility rate, or keep a TABOR overage, they need to remember whose money that is. Every dollar they spend is a dollar you and I earned — it’s not from some magical government money tree. If a politician from any party is asking for more money, without demonstrating that they have been good stewards of the money they already have, taxpayers should be asking tough questions.

I am a registered Republican, and some Republicans think that means I should support all other Republicans no matter what. I am for good government, and I say that if a Republican politician votes to make government larger and less transparent, while making the citizen weaker and having less in control of their own life, I will not support that Republican. I will speak out against them. More Republican voters should speak out on these issues, even when it makes Republican politicians uncomfortable.

CP: Most political consultants have a website; you actually wrote a book, “Government Ruins Nearly Everything.” A key theme is that we rely on government to our own peril — to resolve issues or take on tasks that we could more effectively handle on our own if only we would give it a try. What are some examples? And what is it about human nature that tempts us to rely on government so much? Are we all inherently lazy?

LC: We aren’t inherently lazy, but some people are brought up to believe that government can magically solve all of our problems. The government can’t make you happy, more skilled, more productive or joyful. These are things we have to do for ourselves.

In the book I talk about four social issues, how government involvement makes them worse, and how ordinary Americans make them better. I went straight for the controversial issues: marriage, abortion, guns, and schools.

In each of the four areas, I present people and organizations outside of government that actually make problems better. Look no further than the difference between what the federal Department of Education has done with over three decades and a trillion dollars, versus what Bob Schaffer and the founding board of Liberty Common High School have done to create one of the best performing schools in the country.

Think about the cycle of how government “fixes” a problem. First, government identifies a problem, spends our money to fix the problem, the problem gets worse, then the solution is to spend more money. The goal of my book is to provide readers with the language to give their politicians permission to stop “fixing” things! There is a positive role for government, most importantly protecting our individual rights and ensuring equal treatment under the law, but not every problem in society can be fixed with a government solution. Local problems are often best addressed by local people taking action in their own communities. They have a better handle on the situation than a politician sitting in Washington, D.C.

CP: Would you ever run for political office yourself?

LC: I don’t see myself running for political office, but I also couldn’t have predicted anything I’m doing today. As someone outside of the process, I have the flexibility to keep politicians in check, and for now, that’s a good place for me to be.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJune 23, 20175min341

Not long ago we took note of an independent effort to pick up where the 2017 legislature stopped short — training Colorado’s K-12 educators in the use of firearms to defend their campuses.

A GOP bill passed by the state Senate would have provided the training to designated faculty and staff with concealed-weapons permits; as anticipated, the measure never made it past a “kill committee” in the Democratic-dominated House. So, Coloradans for Civil Liberties, a group affiliated with Denver’s libertarian-leaning Independence Institute, announced last month it would begin offering privately the same kind of training that the legislature ultimately rejected.

State law already allows concealed-carry permit holders to pack heat on campus if the school approves. An estimated dozen mostly rural school districts, including the small Hanover School District 28 near Colorado Springs, have granted such approval — essentially deputizing staff to enhance security given meager resources for full-time guards.

The Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response, or FASTER, training program was slated to start in Greeley with the help of the Weld County Sheriff’s Office. The plan is for the program eventually to go statewide.

The Greeley training sessions are now underway, reports the Greeley Tribune, and the Tribune’s James Redmond offers a boots-on-the-ground glimpse at the program in action:

The bark of gunfire rang in the air as 17 Colorado teachers and school administrators squeezed off round after round from their pistols Thursday afternoon.

The event marked the end of a three-day, highly specialized class in Weld County — at an undisclosed Weld County Sheriff’s Office site — designed to teach education professionals how to stop active shooter situations and deal with related injuries.

Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams is quoted:

“If you look at any of the school shootings around the country, the emphasis is always the quicker the threat can be stopped, the less carnage ensues — whether that’s a school resource officer that happens to be in place or just an armed responder in any capacity.”

According to the Tribune, the trainees go through firearm accuracy drills and fire more than 1,000 rounds by the end of the class. The course covers wide-ranging topics, including first-aid for gunshot victims. Each student also participates in live simulations with non-lethal pellet guns.

Says Reams:

“Is three days enough, I don’t know … I can tell you that’s much better than no training.”

Legislative Democrats who opposed the initiative during the session had said more guns in schools, even if in trained hands, only would increase the likelihood of bloodshed.

But Coloradans for Civil Liberties founder Laura Carno told the Tribune:

“If there’s a fire on the stove and you call 911, you don’t wait there with your arms crossed. You try to put the fire out while you wait. … We just want to provide world-class training because we know this can save lives.”



Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirMay 15, 20175min383

Remember the GOP bill in the legislature that would have provided gun training to designated staffers with concealed-weapons permits on Colorado’s K-12 campuses? The one that was approved by the Republican-controlled state Senate but, as anticipated, never made it past a “kill committee” in the Democratic-dominated House?

Well, Coloradans for Civil Liberties isn’t about to let it drop. In a news release today, the group announced it will offer privately the same kind of training that the legislature declined to bless with its official imprimatur. Though the new effort may be a cheeky end-run on lawmakers, point person Laura Carno, contacted for comment, says it’s all above-board; state law already allows concealed-carry permit holders to pack heat on campus if the school approves.

An estimated dozen mostly rural school districts, including the small Hanover School District 28 near Colorado Springs, have granted just such approval — essentially deputizing staff to enhance security given meager resources for full-time guards.

“It’s really up to the school,” Carno told us. Her group — whose motto is, “Restoring freedom one round at a time” — just wants to back up the credentials with some training.

“Current law has zero training requirements,” Carno said. “It just came down to if your school says it’s OK.”

That was basically the same argument made by Republican Senate Majority Leader Chris Holbert, R-Parker, who sponsored the ultimately unsuccessful Senate Bill 5. Democrats weren’t interested and said even if the eligible staffers had their school’s OK, it still would eventually lead to more guns on campus.

Though the House Democrats seemed to feel it was too radical a policy shift, Carno’s group — which is affiliated with the libertarian-leaning, Denver-based Independence Institute and partnering with it on the training program — points out similar efforts have passed muster in less gun-friendly climes. The news release explains that its inspiration in fact comes from the not-so-Wild-West state of Ohio:

Faculty/Administrator Safety Training and Emergency Response (FASTER) has been taught in Ohio for the past five years, training nearly 900 school staff members. FASTER was the brainchild of Buckeye Firearms Foundation and Tactical Defense Institute, both in Ohio. The curriculum includes skills to stop active shooter situations, as well as advanced medical training to deal with related injuries such as gunshot wounds.

Application for registration for the first class in June is open to school staff who already have their Concealed Handgun Permit (CHL) and who have already been approved as a school security officer, or who are in the process of being approved, by their school board or charter school board, the press release states.

The program at first will be offered in Greeley with the help of the Weld County Sheriff’s Office and then will extend its reach statewide.

Some districts have a budget for such training; for faculty and staff from districts that don’t, there is a scholarship funded by concerned citizens, Carno says, to help defray the $1,000 tuition.

For more information, or to register for the FASTER class, go to FasterColorado.com.

Media questions? Contact Laura Carno at CO2ALiberties@gmail.com or 719-492-0211.

 



Jared WrightJared WrightMarch 18, 201647min563

By TCS Publisher and Editor in Chief Jared Wright _@JaredWright_ DENVER — Good morning and happy Friday. As we head into a full weekend of county assemblies for both the Democrats and Republicans, good luck to each of you, whether you are a volunteer, a donor, a delegate, an alternate, campaign staff or the candidate. Pat yourselves on the back for being involved in the process that is so vital to the foundation of this great country. Somebody has got to do it, right?


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Laura CarnoSeptember 28, 20155min467
Colorado Springs voters will have a decision to make this November. Will they approve yet one more tax increase, or will they ask the city leaders to sharpen their pencils and tighten their belts? Politicians — both Republicans and Democrats — like to grow government. And the only way they can grow government is to […]

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