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DENVER — Fighting to gain traction in the GOP’s gubernatorial primary field, state Sen. Greg Brophy is taking aim at the current front-runner, Tom Tancredo, over the former congressman’s record on gun control.

Brophy attacked Tancredo Monday over a 1999 vote by the former congressman who supported legislation to restrict the sale, transfer, importation and possession of assault rifles and magazines with higher than a 10-round capacity, a measure that is, at least generally, comparable to the ban approved by Colorado Democrats last year that outlaws magazines of more than 15 rounds.

“To a lot of people, this is the seminal issue,” Brophy told FOX31 Denver. “Tancredo’s record on gun control is actually worse than John Hickenlooper’s.”

Brophy is highlighting Tancredo’s support for House Resolution 2122 back on June 18, 1999, just two months after the horrific shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, in Tancredo’s congressional district and just blocks from the lawmaker’s home.

In a New York Times article published three days after the vote, Tancredo explained why he supported the legislation, making him the only member of Congress from Colorado to do so (the legislation died, with Republicans arguing that the restrictions went too far and Democrats that they didn’t go far enough).

In response to a question from reporter James Brooke, who asked “what made the difference?”, Tancredo replied:

”Twelve dead children, one dead adult, 24 injured kids and a community that has had its heart broken — that made the difference.”

In the same article, Tancredo acknowledged the difference between representing a community still reeling from what was the country’s first major school shooting and more rural parts of the state.

“Life in El Paso County, life on the Western Slope, life in Eastern Colorado, is a lot different than life in Littleton, Colo.,” Tancredo told the Times.

FOX31 Denver has been unable to reach Tancredo for a reaction Monday morning. We’ll update this post when we connect with him.

Brophy, a farmer from Wray known for his strong pro-gun stance and for hosting an annual watermelon shoot, is fighting hard to gain traction in a primary field that includes Tancredo, a well-known conservative stalwart who twice ran for president on a hard-line immigration platform and has a long national donor list.

“I know it’s hard to say no to gun control after a tragedy like Newtown or Columbine, but I did it,” Brophy said. “Every other Republican in the Colorado House and Senate did it.  When the pressure was on, Tom Tancredo wouldn’t support the Second Amendment.”

Secretary of State Scott Gessler and former Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp are also among the more viable contenders for the GOP’s nomination with less than two months until the party assemblies that will likely narrow the primary field.

Brophy believes the gun issue could cause some Republican primary voters to think twice about supporting Tancredo, who has polled well ahead of the field to date and even touted an endorsement from rock and roll musician and famed bow hunter Ted Nugent.

In a fundraising pitch to Tancredo supporters, Nugent described Tancredo as someone who “made waves in Washington by vehemently opposing…insane infringements to our Second Amendment rights.”

“Someone should be asking Ted Nugent if he knew that Tancredo and Gov. Hickenlooper were so similar in their stance on guns,” Brophy said. “He’s got more in common with Evie Hudak and Hickenlooper than with Ted Nugent.”

Hudak is one of three senate Democrats who lost their seats last year after the tougher gun laws sparked a recall movement targeting some of the lawmakers who supported the legislation (former senators John Morse and Angela Giron were recalled in September, while Hudak resigned in late November to avoid a likely recall election and ensure that her seat, and the senate itself, remained in Democratic control).