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You Decide: Election 2008
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The National Rifle Association graded candidates on their gun rights policies, and in the race for Colorado Senate District 8, gave the Democrat an "A."
Ken Brenner, Democratic candidate for state Senate, received the NRA's second-highest grade because of his answers on the NRA Political Victory Fund survey.
Blank surveys are not available to the public to see what questions are asked, but Brenner summed up his positions Friday.
"We don't need any new gun laws," he said. "The ones we have are sufficient."
His opponent, Republican Rep. Al White, of Hayden, received a "C-" from the NRA, which means the gun advocacy group agrees with some of his positions but disagrees with him on other issues.
When White was contacted, he expressed concern the NRA's grade does not reflect his true beliefs.
"I hold gun rights more dear than almost anything else I do with the Colorado state Legislature," he said.
Despite different grades, the NRA will not endorse either candidate, said Darin Goens, NRA Colorado state liaison and lobbyist. Although it has issues with White's voting record, Brenner does not have a documented vote history to back up his survey responses.
Brenner's grade is based on "a questionnaire only," Goens said. "A voting record is a more fair assessment of where a person stands."
The NRA, which gave White an "A+" rating two years ago, docked the Republican because of two actions he took as a member of the state House of Representatives, the first being his support of legislation to add habitat stamp fees to outdoor recreation permits, including hunting licenses.
White said he supported the issue because sportsmen's clubs around the state were largely in favor of it.
The other issue relates to a law enforcement database of all concealed firearm permit holders around Colorado.
White recently carried legislation to extend the sunset time for a law enforcement database of concealed firearm permit holders. The law allowing for the database was going to sunset - or expire - because of a built-in time limit.
White also carried the original concealed firearm legislation and helped get it passed after nine failed attempts. At the time, the NRA gave him the "Defender of Freedom" award, despite the fact the database provision was part of the concealed carry bill.
White said he felt the database was a valuable tool for law enforcement and that it does not violate a person's rights. It also was a central reason why the Legislature passed the concealed carry law.
The Colorado State Sheriff's Association and the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police both support the database, and White said their feedback from street officers was the main reason he decided to support the issue.
The database applies only to those with concealed firearm permits, not all gun owners, White said, and helps quell opposition to concealed firearms.
The database was "never intended, nor created, nor does it exist to register everyone who owns a gun," White said. "It's also not kept as a criminal database, as some people have said."
Brenner opposes the database. He said it puts law-abiding citizens under scrutiny when the government doesn't have just cause.
He also does not agree that concealed firearm permits should be a point of interest for law enforcement.
"Those people have all passed background checks and undergone the personal scrutiny of the sheriff in that county," Brenner said. "They have been well-vetted by the system already."
White said he is disappointed with the NRA's position, especially given the group's past support.
"I really feel like I've been wronged here, and it embarrasses me in front of people I really care about," White said, referring to voters across Northwest Colorado.
Although the NRA will not endorse Brenner because he has no proven track record, the candidate said voters can trust his philosophy won't change if he goes to work in Denver.