Earlier this year, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed several gun control bills into law stating that these actions were necessary to help insure the safety of the citizens of Colorado.
It didn’t matter to Hickenlooper that the new laws violated the Second Amendment rights of the people in his state. It didn’t even matter to him that the passage of the bills would cause some businesses to leave the state and for others to boycott Colorado. The only thing that was important to Hickenlooper, besides taking New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s money, was the safety of his constituents.
If that was truly the case, then why would he grant an indefinite stay of execution to a man who brutally murdered four employees at a Chuck E. Cheese’s restaurant?
In 1993, 19 year old Nathan Dunlap had been fired from the Chuck E. Cheese’s restaurant. He didn’t take it too well and in act of revenge and wanting fame, he returned to the restaurant and starting shooting the staff. In the end, 4 were dead and one was wounded. Dunlap was tried and convicted of 4 counts of first degree murder and given the death sentence.
Seventeen years later, Dunlap has used up all of his appeals. He was slated to be executed this August, which would have been the first execution in Colorado since 1997. When the orders for Dunlap’s execution crossed the desk of Gov. Hickenlooper, he could not bring himself to sign them, even though he says that he respects the rule of law and the court and jury who tried and sentenced Dunlap to death.
Being governor of a state requires a person to make some tough decisions, like the ones that Hickenlooper made when he signed all of the gun control bills into law. When he ran for office, Hickenlooper told the people that he was in favor of the death penalty. However, this governor who claims to stand for the safety of his citizens chickened out of making the tough decision concerning Dunlap.
Instead of signing the order for the execution and not wanting to commute the sentence, he issued a temporary stay of execution for as long as he is governor. The temporary stay can be changed and rescinded by any future governor, but Hickenlooper was too cowardice to make the decision himself.
George Brauchler, District Attorney for Arapahoe County commented about Hickenlooper’s actions, basically calling him a coward to do the right thing:
“[Hickenloper’s decision] does not feel like an act of courage and it sure isn’t leadership.”
“I’m confused. I’m frustrated. Disappointed isn’t strong enough.”
Dan May, District Attorney for El Paso County also commented about Hickenlooper’s actions, saying:
“He made a choice to be judge and jury in this case. This case did not need that.”
So Nathan Dunlap will continue to sit on death row indefinitely, costing the taxpayers 15% more a year to house than other prisoners, until Colorado can elect a governor with the guts and fortitude to make the tough decisions. Hopefully, that will be the next election.