Last week, at YouTube headquarters in San Francisco, a woman shot and wounded three individuals before taking her own life. This comes on the heels of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 students and educators were shot and killed. That tragedy, which made national headlines and started a survivor-led movement for increased gun safety, was just one of 17 school shootings in America so far in 2018.
Despite these repeated shootings and countless appeals to “thoughts and prayers,” many politicians continue to promote special interests, including the National Rifle Association (NRA), ahead of the safety of Americans. However, Colorado’s state legislature can take action to update its gun laws in response to this pattern of gun violence. If I become a state senator, I will advocate that Colorado take concrete, straightforward, common-sense steps to limit gun violence. This includes:
Enforcing our background check laws:
I believe anyone that purchases a gun should have to undergo an extensive background check. In 2013, Colorado passed a law requiring background checks for all gun purchases. Somehow, that law hasn’t been widely enforced, and guns have continued to change hands without background checks.
The state of Washington faced a similar compliance problem with its background check law. However, gun safety advocates collaborated with law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges to determine the best way to enforce the law, and now background checks for gun sales in Washington are widespread.
We need to increase our efforts to enforce existing background check laws here in Colorado. Those laws can resolve long-standing issues, including the gun show loophole. Our first step in strengthening gun safety must be to enforce existing laws in order to make sure guns don’t end up in the hands of known violent criminals.
Developing a better picture of the problem:
We should study the effects of gun violence in detail. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is positioned to fund studies on how best to prevent gun violence. Unfortunately, the federal government does not allow for the CDC to study gun violence.
I’ve always believed the best policies result from rigorous, evidence-based, scientific research. Therefore in the absence of federal funding, Colorado should lead the way on studying gun violence prevention. This research would allow Colorado to craft policies and strategies tailored to its communities, and could eventually provide a model for other states on effective, yet constitutional, gun-control measures.
Passing a Colorado red-flag law:
I support laws that allow family members, health-care providers, and law enforcement officials to seek court orders to temporarily remove guns from people who are at risk of harming themselves or others. Passing a ‘red flag law’ in Colorado would give our families and our communities a practical and accessible tool to reduce gun violence.
Banning assault rifles:
Colorado’s legislature should introduce and pass new legislation to ban the sale of assault weapons in Colorado. These weapons were designed for warfare, and their primary purpose is to kill other people. They have no place in our streets and schools.
The solution to gun violence in Colorado, and the United States, is not to ignore the constitution or ban all guns. Effective and practical gun control legislation should have no effect on responsible gun owners. My goals for gun control focus on restricting the most dangerous guns, and keeping guns away from the most dangerous people.
Enforcing Colorado’s existing background check laws, increasing funding for rigorous gun control research, and banning the sale of new assault weapons would provide a starting point for gun control in Colorado. These four effective, constitutional, and attainable goals aren’t the only initiatives that Colorado’s legislature should explore. For example, I would also explore the possibility of banning bump stocks and restricting gun possession for domestic abusers.
However, by focusing on these initiatives, we can bring about quick and effective changes to make our schools and streets safer.