Coffman’s swing district in the Denver suburbs is all too familiar with mass shootings. A few miles to the northeast of the high school that hosted Tuesday’s town hall is the location of the Aurora theater massacre, where 13 people were shot to death in 2012. A few miles to the southwest of the town hall site, just across the district line, is Columbine High School, the site of the 1999 school shooting that killed 12.
In a district that voted for Democrats Barack Obama in 2012 and Hillary Clinton in 2016, Coffman has been a perennial political target for Democrats. He is in his fifth term, but Democrats have not made gun control a centerpiece of their campaigns for votes though the electorate is evenly split between Democrats, Republicans and those unaffiliated.
Coffman has received $34,000 in contributions from the National Rifle Association, more than any other Colorado member of Congress. Gun control activists, sometimes accompanied by family members of those killed in Aurora, have pushed him for years to back more restrictions. Yet even after the Aurora shooting in 2012, Democrats did not mention gun control in their campaign against Coffman. It barely came up in 2014, either, after two Democratic state legislators were recalled for passing new state gun restrictions.