Dan Caplis Show, George Brauchler, October 4, 2017

Station:    KNUS, 710 am

Show:       Dan Caplis Show

Guests:    Brauchler

Link:       http://dancaplis.podbean.com/

Date:        Octover 4, 2017

Topics:     Las Vegas Shooting, Paddock, Gun Control

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HOST DAN CAPLIS:   […] to talk about, in the aftermath of Vegas, should there be any change to Colorado’s gun laws, George Brauchle, of course, the DA in Arapahoe County and beyond, [and] a major candidate for Governor in the state of Colorado, George, welcome back to 710 KNUS!


CAPLIS:  Well, [I] appreciate you being here.So I’m sure, just knowing your background of course and having prosecuted James home so well as you did, I’m sure as soon as you heard about Vegas. I cannot even imagine the feeling in your stomach and the thoughts in your mind and obviously this is been a tie in to the Colorado Governor’s race with the Dems calling for more and more gun control. So, [what is] your reaction to Vegas, George?

BRAUCHLER:  You know, it was a sickening feeling. And it was similar in this way: like, I found out about the Aurora theater massacre in the early morning hours of July 20, 2012 through social media. And that’s exactly how I came to discover what had happened in Vegas — grabbed my phone when I wake up in the morning, check in. And it was that same sickening feeling, but may be enhanced because I was more intimately involved in the aftermath of it with the victims and knowing the unpredictable and I think undeniable ramifications and ripple effects from this evil, from this horror. It’s just something you can’t really comprehend, and that another human being would make the decision to do this to his fellow man is something normal people just can’t wrap their mind around.

CAPLIS:  Right. And you have a perspective that very few people on the face of the earth do, because you were immersed in all of that evidence, you know, all of that horror. You were immersed in the psychology of that evil killer. You were so personally close to so many of those victims who bonded with you. So, you know, from that perspective, I’d like to ask you a few questions, if you don’t mind.

BRAUCHLER:  Yeah, sure!

CAPLIS:  Peter and I were in a very spirited conversation about whether there is black-and-white objective evil in the world. I believe strongly there is. I think James Holmes, while he had a mental illness, knew right from wrong and was evil. He was raw evil on the face of the Earth, as I believe this Vegas killer is. But how do you see all of that?

BRAUCHLER:  Yeah, evil is real. Evil happens. I mean, the idea that we want to explain it away by trying to diagnose everything as some sort of mental malady, I think is an attempt to move away from the recognition that there is badness and evil in the world. You can’t explain people that engage in human trafficking in any other terms than evil. You can explain a person who commits themselves to planning out the murder of hundreds of his fellow community members, whether it the Aurora theater guy or the Vegas guy. Those are evil. And one of the things that we confronted the jury with — and they agreed with — is the idea that even if there is mental illness involved – and there was some level of it in the Aurora theater case — mental illness and evil are not mutually exclusive.

CAPLIS:  Right.

BRAUCHLER:  And so, while we can walk around and say, “This is ‘street crazy’, like when we say, “My gosh! Someone who would try to kill hundreds of community members, they just have to be crazy!”, that’s ‘street crazy’.  That is not the same thing as insane. And it does not answer the question, “Was this the product of evil?”  I think evil exists more and more as we find out, you know, what wasn’t ailing this guy, or wasn’t motivating him. Evil has got to be part of that equation. I believe that.

CAPLIS:  Right. And in general, George, — and I know we’ll get to the issue of gun control. George Brauchler, our special guest, DA in Arapahoe County, prosecuted James Holmes, also major candidate for Governor in Colorado. As you look at all of this, as you look at the entire landscape, and you factor in the work you do and your superb staff, day in and day out, is evil on the rise? Is it retreating? Or are we sort of maintaining sort of a plateau?

BRAUCHLER:  Boy, it’s hard to know if evil is on the rise. It certainly becomes more pronounced because of how ubiquitous the news is, and that social media is. It seems to be everywhere among us. I just don’t know if it’s an increasing rate. I know that what I fear is – maybe as much as evil — is this apathy that sets in, or almost this amoral approach to good and bad and right and wrong in our laws. And that’s what concerns me as much as evil does,is this idea that we begin to look at our laws like, “Well—“. There’s a moral relativism there, like, “Well, it’s wrong in this circumstance but it’s right somewhere else.” I mean, that’s dangerous!

CAPLIS:  Right. Right. And relativism – I’m so glad you use that word because to me, it’s almost a movement. It’s a force. It’s toxic. You know, it has the ability to corrode the moral foundation of the nation – just this principle of relativism. “Well, if the person [who] did it really thought they were doing the right thing.” You know, and that combines – it seems to me, intersects with — the declining respect for human life and really, really, I think puts us in much more jeopardy. And I know all of that doesn’t make your job as a prosecutor any easier. Do you have any thoughts, theories, hunches on Vegas just based as someone who has prosecuted a mass murderer and now just based on what’s publicly available?  What’s your sense of what happened there?

BRAUCHLER:  I don’t know. I mean, I — first up, because of the level of preparation, it doesn’t strike me that this is the product of some sort of drug addiction or intoxication or anything like that. I wonder if, at the end of the day, we’re going to come up with some answers about whatever financial hole this guy had found himself in that made him think differently, or in a more desperate manner about his life and his future. I don’t know those things. But I want there to be something like that, because in the absence of a clear motive – I mean, that’s the scariest thing, right?—is the idea that someone could just decide, “Hey! Today’s the day I’m going to go wipe out hundreds of concertgoers.” I hope that’s not the answer. And I think there’s got to be something else. But no, I want there to be more investigation. I want there to be more revelation about any letters he left, the motivations. The girlfriend, I hope, is the key to his thought process. I just want to know more about what’s going on in his head.

CAPLIS:  Right, as all Americans do. George Brauchler, our special guest. And George, relating that back to James Holmes, at the end of the day, from the outside it appeared to me – and having involvement in the civil cases I did look at a lot of evidence but just a fraction of the immersion, obviously, that you and your staff had in the case. At the end of the day, was their motive for James Holmes, beyond trying to be famous and kill as many people as possible? And if not, could that be what happened in Vegas — just another evil person who wanted to be famous by killing more people than anybody else had?

BRAUCHLER:  I’ll do it in reverse order. I don’t know yet. And I don’t think we can know yet about what motivated the Vegas guy. So, the connection is going to be hard. But, yeah, there was a motive here. And we know that James Holmes researched how many victims there were at the Columbine massacre, and I think is the vehicle to figure out how to top that number. But we also know that as he is making this decision, in the months leading up to the mass murder, that he began to see his life in a different way than he thought it would turn out. You know, for him, Dad was a PhD who was a bit socially stigmatized – just like his son was – but was able to find a woman to love, and was able to get a job, had kids, all that other stuff. Well, by the time Aurora-Theater-Shooter guy – it’s in about February, within about one week, he comes to realize he’s not going to be a PhD. He can’t make it through the program. And his girlfriend — his only girlfriend in his life – dumps him.  And it’s right about that time that he begins to change his focus away from school towards, “How can I make myself feel better about me? How can I make myself feel more valuable to me? I’m going to kill as many people as I can.” And that’s when he set that in motion.

CAPLIS:  Hmm. Unbelievable. Unbelievable. And George, from your unique perspective — George Brauchler, our special guest, DA, Arapahoe County prosecutor of the Aurora theater shooter and candidate for Governor — from your perspective, any insights on what we can do? And I’ll get to the gun control questions in a second, which obviously the Dems are pushing as they always do after a horror like this. But aside from anything in that category, your thoughts on what we can do as a society to try to minimize these mass attacks in the future?

BRAUCHLER:  It’s tough. I think there is a combination of things. I mean, I’ll tell you that me, personally, since the Aurora theater case, I have not gone to the movies with my family without me carrying concealed.


BRAUCHLER:  And I’ll plainly concede that there are probably several theaters that have said, “You can’t carry concealed here.” And I have disregarded that, because I am never going to put myself in a position to not have options. Now, having said that, Vegas, that wouldn’t have mattered there, right?  I mean, this was a guy who operated from a crow’s nest, here, as a sniper!  There is nothing that anyone could have done with concealed carry. I think mental health has to be a big part of this. I struggled through the Aurora case to try to figure out, was there something that the psychiatrist woulda-coulda-shoulda done that would’ve made a difference? And the answer I came up with was, “No. No, they couldn’t.”  These are people that say, if we start stigmatizing people who come in and concede to us certain thoughts, that don’t rise to the level of an immediate threat to themselves or others, if we start saying, “Now, you told us this. Now we have to ban you from being able to exercise your Second Amendment rights,” – this is what the psychiatrist told me – people stop coming in and talking to them.

CAPLIS:  Right. Right.

BRAUCHLER:  They stop telling them what they really think.

CAPLIS:  Right. The key is the “immediate threat”. Right. That’s the legal demarcation.

BRAUCHLER:  That’s right.

CAPLIS:  Yeah. Yeah.  George Brauchler, our guest. And now, George, getting to the gun control question that I think was always going to be part of the Colorado Governor’s race but now will be intensified by Vegas.  You heard, perhaps, the sound we played at the beginning with Newt Gingrich coming out in favor of banning these bump stocks. Do you have a position on that?

BRAUCHLER:  The bump stocks thing?  No. I really want to know more about what led to this. I think the problem here is that the people who want to knee-jerk react and say, “Hey, we need to do something!” – this idea that we just need to take action against guns every time there’s an event like this, it becomes completely separate from the factors that actually lead to this event.  And the example I give you, again, is Aurora theater. After Aurora, and after Sandy Hook, the legislature took certain actions — two big things. They did background checks, and they limited the magazine capacity. Now, I’ll tell you this, the victims in this case,– and I have had some spirited discussions with them and I know that several of them imminently disagree with my position on this — but had those laws existed on July 19, 2012, nothing changes, because this guy brought seven hundred rounds of ammunition with him to the theater. Thirty-round mag, 20-round mag, two-round mag, [it] makes no difference to this guy. This is a guy who booby-trapped his apartment to cause mass death and chaos in that part of town using homemade Internet-researched bombs. He made napalm in his kitchen. He made thermite in his kitchen. This is not a guy who is deterred by magazine capacity.

CAPLIS:  Right.

BRAUCHLER:  And he also bought four separate weapons from different stores across the metro area, here, and he passed every single background check. So, that’s not the answer either. So this idea that we have to frenetically just come up with some piece of legislation that makes us feel like, “Whew! We’ve addressed the issue and therefore we’re safer,” I think that’s not realistic. And frankly, if our approach is, “How do we infringe upon the rights of the law-abiding because we think it’s going to protect us from those who seek to do the worst to us by violating our laws?”, that doesn’t even seem to me to be common sense.

CAPLIS:  Hmm. No. I hear you. George Brauchler, DA, 18th judicial district, candidate for Governor in Colorado. George, I really appreciate your time today. I think people have really learned a lot from the conversation because of course the flashbacks after this this mass attack in Vegas were immediately to Aurora theater shooting, and then to, “What’s next?” Because it seems — and again, we don’t know the full scope of the motive of this evil coward in Vegas — but think it’s fair to say that as you and I have this conversation, there are multiple people out there across the country planning the next mass attack, who now want to have the highest number.

BRAUCHLER:  Yep. I think that’s scarily and probably true. I’ll say this, and I think you’d agree with this too, Dan: Look, the fact that my inclination is not just to act and do something shouldn’t be interpreted as an unwillingness to sit down and have an earnest conversation about the facts of these cases and is there something constitutionally that we can do to address this, to prevent or minimize the chances of this happening in the future. Of course, any rational person would do that. And I’m no different than that. But if the knee-jerk reaction is we have to rush to amend some sort of liberties that we have to say, “Look! We’ve done something! And we’ve taken this away from the law-abiding people and we’ve limited their access to this, and therefore we’re better off,” I just don’t think that’s the place to start. The place to start is with the facts. And to try to figure out, is there something, constitutionally, that can be done?

CAPLIS:  Amen to that! And if you have one more minute, I’d like to extend it out to another point, because to me, — and I’m with you! I mean, so many of these folks who have this — at least, [this] initial reaction – of, you know, “We have to change the gun laws. We have to confiscate guns, etc.,” so many of those people, they aren’t the hard left types who are methodically trying to, you know, transform American in a negative way. They’re well-intentioned people who just haven’t thought it through enough, and they just want to try and end the carnage.  And I think those are folks you can have the kind of honest conversation with you were just alluding to.


CAPLIS:  But to me, one of that the most personally deeply offensive things that the left has done – and John Hickenlooper let it, and I’m curious as to your position as Governor of Colorado — is when he put that magazine limitation in, because, me, just as a guy — I mean, we know each other, you met my family – me, as a guy, you as a guy, Amy as a woman, trying to protect her family, you know, somebody invades your home in the middle of the night and now John Hickenlooper is going to tell you [that] you have a certain limited number of rounds with which you can save your family?  And if that won’t do it, you know, they can rape, they can kill, they can torture, they can do whatever they want? To me, that is so patently offensive. And it’s hard for me to even imagine that these magazine limitations — certainly at the limit Hickenlooper set them, and the Democrats — are constitutional. But what would your attitude be on that — on these magazine limitations as Governor?

BRAUCHLER:  Yeah. It’s feel-good legislation that has no demonstrable or practical impact to making us more safe. In fact, maybe to the contrary. I just don’t think that any legislation that seeks to make people feel better — as opposed to truly impact[ing] their safety — is something that I would endorse or sign. I mean, some have asked me, “Look, if they got some legislation across your desk that would return the magazine capacity to what used to be, would you sign it?” I would sign it, because it doesn’t make a difference to the bad guy. It doesn’t change any of these crimes. I’ve heard some of the conversation, like with Hillary Clinton, where she’s like, “We need to do something about these suppressors – these silencers.”  [I’m] pretty sure that hasn’t been used in any of these mass shootings — that I’m aware of. Not Fort Hood, not Charleston, not Aurora, not this one.  How do you get from these tragedies to that? And that tells you where their mindset is. Now, look, I’m a father of kids in public school. You have kids in school. Of course we want to minimize — if not eliminate — any chance that this could happen. But that has to be taken in context. We can’t create an error-free, evil-free world. That’s our goal. But we know it’s just not going to happen by just limiting everybody’s liberty and freedom.

CAPLIS:  Hey, and that’s why – and I don’t mean to go off on this, but it really bothers me in a very practical way — and that’s why, any scenario you want to talk about — home invasion, or let’s say that somebody does attack a school and, you know, you or I [or] whomever happens to be there giving a talk or whatever, or we’re driving by, we’re going to be there before law enforcement. If John Hickenlooper is limiting me to 15 rounds, I mean, you and I both have seen highly trained law enforcement officers –. Heck! The Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, it took that officer nine rounds to stop one guy in the middle of the day in broad daylight! This isn’t like TV! So, to limit an amateur, a regular guy like me, to 15 rounds to save my family in the middle of the night, I will violate that law every single day of the week, and come and get me! Come and get me! Because I am not going to let John Hickenlooper tell me I’m only allowed 15 rounds to save my family. I mean it’s just not practical. It is not practical to expect an average person like me to be able to do what they have to do in that situation with 15 rounds!

BRAUCHLER:  Dan, not only do I agree with you, but I think it’s even more enhanced for families like yours who aren’t in a suburban or urban setting where you can expect the fantastic Greenwood Village Police Department or Cherry Hills Village Police Department to show up within minutes.

CAPLIS:  Right. Right.

BRAUCHLER:  You look at places in my jurisdiction like Lincoln or Elbert County. Cops are far away! And you can’t say, “I’m sorry, you have a limited capacity to protect you and your family, and you’re just going to have to cross your fingers and hope against hope that law enforcement gets there on time.”  That can’t be what we stand for!

CAPLIS:  No, and it is so personally offensive. And it just shows how little these Democrats really care about us. But George, I really appreciate the time. Keep up the great work and [I] look forward to the next conversation.

BRAUCHLER:  Thanks for having me on, sir! Anytime.

CAPLIS:  Thank you, my friend. That is George Brauchler, DA, doing a great job out there in Arapahoe County, and a candidate for Governor. And you can see why I enjoyed working with George so much. We practiced law together. We are friends and I’m proud to say that, and I work very hard to be fair to all the candidates from both sides. But you can see why I’m so impressed with the guy. And [it is] great to have his perspective on the heels of Vegas, because is that who this evil coward, Stephen Paddock, is? Is he  another evil coward like Holmes, who was out to make himself famous by killing more than the next evil coward? Or was he a jihadi? Was he radicalized? Or was it something else?  We all want those answers.