In his race for the state Senate, Tom Sullivan, who first ran for the state legislature after his son was killed in the Aurora Theater massacre and has made gun safety a top priority ever since, faces a Republican opponent, Tom Kim, who received an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association (NRA) and appears to oppose the basic gun safety measures Sullivan has pushed into Colorado law.
On his campaign website, Kim makes no mention of his stance on guns or his “A” rating from the NRA, but in a May Facebook ad, Kim touts himself as a “gun owner and member of the Centennial Gun Club” and questions whether a fellow Republican supports the Second Amendment.
Kim and Sullivan are competing to represent Senate District 27, which is located in and around Centennial, southeast of Denver.
Kim’s top NRA rating, which was apparently awarded during his Republican primary campaign against JulieMarie Macklin, was based on Kim’s answers to an NRA questionnaire. That’s why his rating is “Aq” on the “Voting Card” below, with the “q” referring to the questionnaire, which was obtained by the Colorado Times Recorder.
Kim’s specific answers to the NRA’s questions were not found, but to obtain an “Aq” rating, based on the NRA’s questions, it’s fair to conclude that Kim answered many if not all of the questions to the approval of the NRA. “Aq” is the highest rating a candidate can receive without having a voting record.
One of the NRA’s questions, for example, asked if Kim would support “mandating the locked storage of firearms in one’s own home?”
Sullivan, who’s currently a state representative, was a co-sponsor of a bill, which became law last year, that required “firearms be responsibly and securely stored when they are not in use to prevent access by unsupervised juveniles and other unauthorized users.”
In another question, the NRA wanted to know if Kim would support any “new restrictions on the purchase and possession of ammunition beyond current law?”
Kim did not return a call to discuss the gun-storage law and to obtain his positions on other gun measures. Sullivan also didn’t return a call for comment.
For his part, Sullivan states on his website that, going forward at the Capitol, he wants to focus, among other things, “on firearm suicide prevention as well as public awareness around responsible firearm ownership.” He says he respects Second Amendment rights.
Kim’s top rating from the NRA means he will likely “not just try to stop the passage of [gun safety] laws but seek to repeal laws that have already been passed,” according to Tom Mauser, whose son died in the Columbine school shooting and is a spokesman for Colorado Ceasefire, a group formed to stop gun violence.
Mauser expects the NRA, which sent out a fundraising appeal three days after the Aurora Theater shooting, to campaign against Sullivan, whom Mauser sees as a “strong advocate” for gun safety and a stark contrast to Kim.
“The NRA has nothing to offer on the gun violence issue,” said Mauser. “They have nothing, other than they want to reverse what’s been passed, and they want to have more people carrying concealed [weapons]. They want to have more people carrying [weapons openly in public]. They want to have teachers armed. To the NRA, the solution is more arms, and I don’t think that’s where most Coloradans are.”
Prior to the pandemic, Kim’s gun club was known for its annual “Machine Gun Santa” event, in which members were invited to bring their children to pose for a picture with St. Nick and an arsenal of fully automatic weapons.
According to his Facebook page, Kim is also a member of “Bullets Both Ways,” an apparel brand that promotes arming teachers so that in the event of a school shooting they will be able to return fire in the classroom. The company sells T-shirts, hats, and accessories featuring its crossfire bullets logo. It describes itself as “a bold American brand and apparel line.”
Kim earned his “A” rating from the NRA by answering the following questions on the “2022 National Rifle Association of America – Political Victory Fund Colorado Candidate Questionnaire:”
“Do you agree that the Second Amendment to the Constitution guarantees the fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms for all law-abiding Americans?
Do you support requiring firearm owners to register their firearms with a federal agency? Do you support banning the possession, ownership, purchase, sale, and/or transfer of “higher” capacity ammunition magazines?
Do you support new restrictions on the purchase and possession of ammunition beyond current law?
Do you support raising the current age for the purchase of rifles and shotguns to over 21 years of age?
Do you agree that an individual’s 2nd Amendment rights cannot be denied without stringent due process?
Do you support state legislation supporting or eliminating gun-free zones that are not secure?
Do you support current law allowing the purchase of a firearm to proceed after three business days if the FBI still has not denied the sale?
Do you support prohibiting an individual who has undergone a criminal background check from purchasing more than one firearm per month?
Do you support “Employee Protection” legislation that would allow law-abiding citizens to keep lawfully purchased firearms locked in their personal vehicles while parked on publicly accessible privately-owned parking lots?
Do you support reforming Colorado’s “Castle Doctrine” to make clear that: 1) a person has the right to meet force with force to protect himself/herself and family members, regardless of their location, 2) a “duty to retreat” would no longer exist in any place a person may lawfully be, and 3) a person justified in the use of force would be protected from criminal and civil liability?
Do you support mandating the locked storage of firearms in one’s own home?
Do you support mandating waiting periods between the purchase and delivery of firearms?
Do you support enhancing Colorado’s range protection laws?
Do you support further restrictions or bans on hunting?
Do you have any ideas for firearms or hunting related legislation for the 2023 session?
Are you a member of the National Rifle Association or any other firerarm’s/shooting sports/sportsmen’s organization?”
On his website, Kim touts the endorsement of Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman, a Republican who received an “A” rating from the NRA in 2018.
Erik Maulbetsch contributed to this article.