Sadly, Colorado is no stranger to gun violence. We’ve faced more than our fair share of devastating attacks throughout the years, the most recent being the horrific attack at Club Q in Colorado Springs.
These senseless tragedies cause irreparable harm to Colorado families and our communities. But in a country that too often settles for thoughts and prayers in the face of horrific gun violence, Colorado stands apart as a state that takes common-sense action to save lives and protect our communities.
We’ve been on the forefront of gun violence prevention policy in Colorado for more than a decade. We’ve both lost children to the epidemic of gun violence. We know firsthand how it feels to endure the pain of losing a loved one to a gun, which is why we’ve dedicated our lives to preventing other families from experiencing the same pain.
Over the past decade, we’ve listened to the voices of Coloradans, and we’ve delivered on our promises to make Colorado safer for everyone. After the Aurora theater shooting, we helped pass legislation to ban high-capacity magazines and closed the background check loophole for all private gun sales. Just two years ago, after the Boulder King Soopers shooting, we worked to establish the Office of Gun Violence Prevention in Colorado to collect data and coordinate our statewide response to these tragedies.
And just this week, Gov. Jared Polis signed Senate Bill 279, cracking down on the possession and sale of ghost guns. Ghost guns — essentially guns that can be 3-D-printed or ordered through the mail and assembled at home, and that do not have serial numbers — increasingly are being used to commit violent crimes around the country. This was a priority in the governor’s State of the State address, and we are glad to see this bill become law.
The signing caps off a remarkable year where policymakers increased the minimum age to purchase a firearm to 21, boosted the waiting period for all firearm purchases and transfers to three days, and strengthened Colorado’s nation-leading Extreme Risk Protection Order or “Red Flag” Law to include additional petitioners who can recognize danger signs and act to intervene before a shooting happens.
Together, these evidence-based policies exemplify the hard work of policymakers, survivors of gun violence, and allies who have led to Colorado pursuing one of the most aggressive gun violence prevention agendas in the nation over the past 10 years.
There are certainly folks who want us to pursue more extreme solutions, such as an executive order to ban all guns and instituting mandatory buyback programs. But those ideas are unconstitutional, and they diminish decades of work by policymakers and activists who have labored tirelessly to stop gun deaths and could undermine and demoralize those efforts going forward.
While the work of making Colorado safe from the scourge of gun violence is far from over, this misguided approach will do more harm than good, and create unrealistic expectations for a public hungry for meaningful reforms.
Every Coloradan deserves to feel safe and secure in their community, whether they’re at home, at school, or at the grocery store.
There is no single solution, it’s a collective. It’s going to take all of us working together at every level to make real progress to reduce gun violence.
Rhonda Fields is a state senator representing Aurora and served in the Colorado House of Representatives. State Sen. Tom Sullivan represents parts of Arapahoe and Douglas counties.