Massacre certain to stir debate over guns
DENVER —A day after Gov. John Hickenlooper declared that enough time had passed since the July shootings at an Aurora movie theater to start a conversation about gun-control measures in Colorado, another shooting occurred.
As a result, the governor was reluctant to say Friday just what kind of gun-control measures the Colorado Legislature should consider when it convenes next month.
“When I say begin a conversation, what I’m really saying is, ‘Begin to collect the facts to make sure we’re all playing from the same deck,’” the governor said at a gathering of Capitol press and legislative leaders. “One thing I’ve learned again and again around gun issues the last couple of months, not everybody has the same factual basis. People are unaware of some of the most basic facts around the issue.”
But while Hickenlooper and other Democrats in the Colorado statehouse don’t all agree on what legislation should be considered when lawmakers gather in January, Republicans agree on the matter: It should be nothing at all.
Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs, said new gun-control laws aren’t going to stop these types of shootings.
“The real bottom line here is, there are 300 million people in this country, so someone somewhere is planning to do harm to somebody on any given day,” Cadman said at the same gathering. “All the laws in the world aren’t going to stop criminals from doing criminal acts.”
That prompted an immediate response from the incoming president of the Colorado Senate, Sen. John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, who said it’s folly to say there’s nothing lawmakers can do to address the issue.
Morse said gun enthusiasts shouldn’t overreact and fear that all firearms will be banned.
Still, some will be targeted, such as the AR-15 assault rifle used in the Aurora shootings, he said.
“It’s not designed to hunt elk, it’s not designed to hunt deer,” Morse said. “Those guns are designed to be used in battle. There ought to be high-capacity magazines on the battlefield. There ought to be semi-automatic weapons on the battlefield. But we don’t need those weapons in the city streets to be used for exactly what happened in Aurora.”
Whatever bills come forward, Hickenlooper said he expects the discussion to cover the full gamut, from banning some weapons to allowing even more.
He said there’s never a good time to start such discussions, but the Aurora and Connecticut shootings, at least, show it’s time to have the courage to talk about it openly.
“I guarantee someone’s going to come forward and say, ‘If there were guards in the schools and people had guns everywhere, there would be greater protection,’ ” the governor said. “You’re going to hear every color of the spectrum over the next few months. But we can’t postpone the discussion on a national level every time there’s a shooting. They are too often.”