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The tragic loss of 10 lives in Boulder last week has had and will have many impacts on all of us. One of them will be to ensure that gun control will now become a huge and controversial issue for the …
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The tragic loss of 10 lives in Boulder last week has had and will have many impacts on all of us. One of them will be to ensure that gun control will now become a huge and controversial issue for the rest of this year’s session of the Colorado General Assembly.
It’s not as if gun issues were not already on the table. Several Republican-sponsored bills had been introduced to remove restrictions that are currently in place. None of them has any chance of success in the Democratic-controlled legislature.
Two gun-control bills sponsored by Democrats are in the process and had been subject to long and emotional debates. One requires safe storage of guns. Supporters argue that safe storage will protect people from gun accidents in their homes and make it more difficult for criminals to steal guns. Opponents argue that requirements to lock guns away make their owners defenseless if their homes are invaded or makes people who keep guns out of their storage containers into criminals.
The other requires people whose guns are lost or stolen to report it to law enforcement. Proponents believe reporting requirements will make it less likely those weapons will be used in crimes, while opponents say the bill would make people who are victims of crimes criminals themselves if they don’t report the theft.
While those two bills have been controversial, in the scheme of things, they are relatively minor proposals. We are now likely to see proposals to prohibit ownership or use of assault weapons, remove the state’s preemption on local gun control laws and establish a waiting period between when people purchase guns and obtain them.
Any of these proposals will be legislative holy wars that would bring the legislature’s work to a snail’s pace and could make it difficult for the legislature to work on anything else. We’re also assured to see a renewed conversation about mental health in general and what limitations on gun ownership are appropriate for people suffering with mental-health problems.
Every time there is a mass shooting, discussions about what we should do are reenergized. We’ve had more than our share of these events in Colorado. After Columbine, Colorado voters passed universal background checks. Gun-control bills that passed in 2013 led to two Democratic senators being recalled and Republicans taking control of the State Senate after the 2014 elections. After what happened in Boulder last week, it will be interesting to see if either the legislature or voters make other significant changes to gun laws in our state.
Greg Romberg is president of Romberg and Associates. He lives in Evergreen with his wife, Laurie.
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