In the wake of the shooting at a STEM school in Highlands Ranch earlier this month, Colorado Democrats are considering legislation to tighten the state’s laws around gun storage and child access, as the Colorado Sun reports:
“The end goal is that someone who shouldn’t have access to a firearm can’t access it,” said Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, who revealed conversations about the potential policies at The Colorado Sun’s legislative forum last week. “Usually that would be a minor, but theoretically would include someone who just isn’t allowed to have a firearm.”…
…There are reports that the shooters in the STEM School attack, which left one student dead and eight more wounded, obtained their weapons by breaking into a gun safe belonging to one of their parents. The suspects are 18 and 16 years old, too young to legally purchase handguns, which authorities say were used in the attack.
About a dozen U.S. states have laws stipulating how guns are stored and how to prevent children from accessing them. Colorado is not among them, though it does have a law against providing a handgun to a juvenile. The older suspect in the STEM attack, 18-year-old Devon Erickson, is accused of committing that crime, according to online court records.
Republican lawmakers are not enthusiastic about this idea. Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert dismissed the proposal in an interview with the Sun, as did Sen. John Cooke (R-Greeley), who reverted to a particularly stupid argument about the fallibility of laws in general:
“We have laws against murder. It doesn’t stop people from murdering. If you’re not storing your gun responsibly, a law is not going to change that.”
Why have laws at all?
The per-capita rate of deaths from gun violence in Colorado is at its highest level in more than 30 years, so what are Colorado Republicans going to do about the problem? They’re not going to do anything, as we’ve seen time and time again, but if backed into a corner the GOP solution continues to be to put more guns in public places.
Over the weekend, firearm enthusiasts gathered by the dozens at the State Capitol for a “Rally For Our Rights” event billed as a protest against a so-called “red flag” bill that passed through the state legislature this Spring. House Bill 1177, signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis in April, allows Colorado families and law enforcement officials to petition a court for an “Extreme Risk Protection Order” (ERPO) to temporarily remove firearms from the hands of individuals who deemed to be a risk to themselves or others. Many Republican lawmakers opposed the “red flag” bill, including Sens. Holbert and Cooke. Perhaps the most vocal opponent was House Minority Leader Patrick Neville, who has been openly advocating for recall elections against Democrats who supported the legislation (including Democratic Rep. Tom Sullivan, a co-sponsor of HB-1177 and the father of a victim of the 2012 Aurora Theater shooting) .
Neville’s “solution” to gun violence has been the same since he first joined the State House in 2105; he is a leader of the movement to get more guns in the hands of teachers. This is a sentiment shared by others in the “Rally For Our Rights” circle. Among the organizations on hand for Saturday’s “more guns” rally was a Colorado-based group called “Bullets Both Ways” that believes that “Bullets Both Ways are better in our nation’s schools than bullets one way coming from an unchallenged perpetrator.” This is asinine.
What Neville and groups like “Bullets Both Ways” don’t mention, of course, is that the “more bullets” approach to gun violence actually creates…more danger for innocent people. As the Denver Post reported last week:
The district attorney for Teller and El Paso counties will review whether a security guard accused of firing at deputies responding to the shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch should face criminal charges.
The source said a deputy has told authorities that the security guard, who has not been publicly identified, fired a shot at him or her while sheriff’s responders were arriving at the school. [Pols emphasis]
Investigators also are trying to determine whether the trajectory of the bullet indicates the guard may have struck and injured a student, the source said. Eight students were injured in Tuesday’s shooting, which also claimed the life of 18-year-old Kendrick Castillo.
According to an attorney for the security guard, the armed man spent four years in the Marine Corps, which means he was probably plenty experienced with firearms. Yet he still may have mistakenly fired his weapon at students and law enforcement officers responding to the scene of the shooting. It’s ludicrous to expect that anyone other than the most highly-trained law enforcement officers would be able to safely handle a weapon in the midst of a school shooting, but if Neville and other gun advocates had their way, inexperienced shooters would be firing weapons in every direction at the first sign of a threat.
We need real solutions to our gun violence epidemic, not silly fantasies of promoting “a good guy with a gun.”