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Colorado has a gun problem. It is a state of endless beauty and one of the fastest growing economies in the U.S. — but it is also a state that has contributed to the nation’s growing gun crisis in a way that is troubling at best and debilitating at worst.
This past Saturday, gunfire broke out at the Motorcycle Expo in Denver. Four people were shot, and one was fatally wounded while the others remain in critical condition. Though there is a theory that the shooting resulted from a feud between two motorcycle gangs, investigators are still trying to gain a clear perspective on the event. There is still speculation on how many shooters were involved.
The event this past weekend is far down on the list of horrible instances of gun violence that have taken place in recent years. The problem that Colorado, and the entire nation has, is trivialized. Every shooting should be a shocking event, but we have become numb to them due to the severity of mass shootings. Gun violence, rather than arousing horror, has become yet another fact of American life to be sensationalized on the evening news before receding to the backgrounds of our national consciousness yet again.
In 2015, there were 13,286 homicides due to firearms in the U.S. — about 60 percent of all homicides committed that year. While mass shootings are not the highest contributors to these deaths, they seem to be the only events that still call an appropriate level of attention to gun violence. Since 2000, four mass shootings have taken place in Colorado, the most recent of which happened at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs last November.
There are some who point to these shootings as indisputable examples of the nation’s gun control problem, pushing to restrict Americans’ firearm freedoms. However, others claim such efforts are unconstitutional, and even go as far as to say our gun rights should be expanded.
The latter sentiment is evident in Colorado. Currently, there are three bills in the state’s legislature that aim to expand gun rights. One such bill would repeal 2013 legislation that limited the possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines. Another bill would extend the “Make My Day” law, which enables homeowners to use deadly force against an intruder on their property, to apply to business owners, managers and employees. The third proposed bill would allow any legal gun owner to carry a concealed weapon, whereas now a separate permit must be obtained in order to do so.
While the expansion of the “Make My Day” law may be justifiable depending on where you fall on the gun debate, the other two bills would only add to the gun problems this state already suffers from. If events like the ones in Denver, Colorado Springs, Columbine or in Aurora are to be avoided, precautionary laws that limit things like concealed carry and high-capacity weapons must be strengthened, not abolished. Instead of carrying custom rifles everywhere they go, gunowners may go to an indoor firing range instead for practice or target shooting. And for safekeeping purposes, you might want to consider getting fire safes for your guns and rifles.
The nation is at a crossroad when it comes to gun freedoms and gun violence. As a state where these issues hit too close to home, we must choose the path that fosters safety, rather than the one that will enable the past to repeat itself.