The far-right Gun Owners of America (GOA) group is endorsing Lauren Boebert for Colorado’s 3rd congressional district at an in-person event in Pueblo this Saturday. GOA is a fringe pro-gun group that, like Dudley Brown’s National Association for Gun Rights, has sent fundraising emails asking for money to defend Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse.
The group also has a history of promoting extremist conspiracy theories. Following the Aurora theater shooting in 2013, GOA issued a press release offering founder Larry Pratt’s availability to discuss the possibility that the massacre was a false flag attack orchestrated by the federal government. As Mother Jones’ Tim Murphy reported at the time,
“[GOA President] Pratt believes the timing of Holmes’ rampage, which left 12 people dead and 58 wounded, seemed designed to coincide with the upcoming negotiation of the United Nations Small Arms Treaty. A press release sent out to radio bookers on Tuesday advertising Pratt’s availability noted that, ‘In an article posted at The New American…one expert even outlined a theory that Holmes didn’t act alone, but was possibly ‘enlisted’ to carry out his violent act.” Pratt, the publicist stated, was free for interviews on Holmes’ ‘impeccable’ timing.’”
GOA Vice President Erich Pratt (Larry’s son) and Boebert will appear together at Saturday’s event. The announcement praises the upstart candidate while noting her inexperience.
“Lauren Boebert may be new to the world of politics, but she’s not new to defending the Second Amendment,” Pratt said. “I look forward to her standing up to the anti-gun likes of Nancy Pelosi and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the halls of Congress.”
The announcement also credited Boebert for her primary victory over Scott Tipton, whom GOA had endorsed in previous cycles.
“While she’s new to the field of public policy, she’s no shrinking violet. Lauren shocked the political world when she defeated the sitting incumbent in the primary – something which hasn’t been done in this state for almost 50 years!”
Boebert isn’t the first Colorado Republican to appear with Erich Pratt. GOA’s December 2014 newsletter featured a photo of Pratt and Gardner together following Gardner’s election to the U. S. Senate. GOA has endorsed numerous Colorado Republicans over the years, including Congressman Ken Buck and Cory Gardner in his campaigns for the U.S. House as well as U.S. Senate. In a May 2017 release, GOA featured a Gardner quote celebrating their work together. Gardner called the group “a fierce defender of the second amendment” that “provided invaluable support as we worked to bring a new generation of leadership to Washington, D.C.”
GOA’s extreme positions aren’t limited to gun rights. Over the past thirty years the group has supported white supremacists and the anti-government “Christian Reconstructionism” movement. A 2014 Rolling Stone feature noted that GOA “donated thousands to Christian Identity lawyer Kirk Lyons’…white supremacist organization CAUSE (short for the Aryan bastions of Canada, Australia, the United States, South Africa and Europe).”
As noted by the Southern Poverty Law Center, in 1996 GOA founder Larry Pratt was forced to resign as co-chair of Pat Buchanan’s presidential campaign after news broke of his 1992 speech at the “Gathering of Christian Men” in Estes Park, an event that featured Klansmen, Neo-Nazis, anti-Semitic Christian Identity zealots and other extremists. The event is widely considered the birthplace of the current anti-government militia movement.
Boebert is an enthusiastic supporter not only of gun rights, but of so-called “Patriot” or “Three Percenter” militias. She has appeared at events with militia members and has asked local militia members to provide security at campaign events.
A call to the Boebert campaign’s communications director asking if the candidate has any concerns about GOA’s endorsement was not immediately returned. This article will be updated with any response. The event will take place at 3:00 PM in the old K-Mart parking lot on N. Elizabeth Street in Pueblo.
UPDATE: Following publication of this story, a gun blogger who also serves as a GOA state director objected that the Mother Jones story didn’t cite Pratt directly. Here’s another article, posted the same day by reporter Dave Weigel that quotes Pratt directly.
Weigel reached Pratt by phone and asked him about the conspiracy. Pratt’s answer is unequivocal:
“We’re still not clear who may or may not have been involved with the guy,” said Pratt. “He found a way back into the theater, and we don’t know how that happened. He may have jimmied the door himself; somebody may have worked with him. It’s reasonable to ask. Here we are, the same week they may be signing a UN gun control treaty. After the government got involved in Fast and Furious, the WAY they got involved, it’s not a preposterous question to ask – if this was some kind of operation. …If we know that the government is willing to have a river of blood run through Mexico, then, yeah I want to know more about this guy Holmes.”GOA executive director Larry Pratt to Dave Weigel, July 25, 2012.