We Asked Coloradans How Lawmakers Should Respond To The Boulder Shooting. Their Ideas Are Diverse
State lawmakers from Boulder are vowing to pursue "aggressive" and "meaningful" legislation in response to last month’s shooting that left 10 people dead. But their early calls for an assault weapons ban — and waiting periods for gun purchases — are stirring up a lot of emotions around the state.
A gun-owning Democrat who leads horseback adventures in San Miguel County is torn over the idea of an assault weapons ban.
A former corrections officer living in Cortez says lawmakers should focus on strengthening laws already on the books.
A librarian in Telluride says Colorado should do more to prevent gun violence.
As the political response brews at the Capitol, Rocky Mountain Community Radio state government reporter Scott Franz asked a network of public radio stations around Colorado to ask residents what they think lawmakers should do next.
Here are their stories.
A Boulder resident who heard gunshots at the King Soopers from the parking lot
Do you think lawmakers should pass any new legislation in response to the mass shooting in Boulder? What should they focus on this session?
Oh, yes, for sure, I think there at least needs to be a conversation that happens between lawmakers and government officials all across the country, especially about, you know, to what extent is buying a like a semi-automatic gun really a need? And, to what extent is buying these mass killing weapons that we have seen consistently used in multiple shootings like the Atlanta shooting, the Boulder shooting, Stoneman Douglas shooting, Sandy Hook and to what extent, you know, the Aurora shooting? Why do people actually need this? Why is it a necessity to our country? Why does it need to be protected? And why can't there be a ban?
Some lawmakers from Boulder are calling for a statewide ban on assault weapons. Do you support such a proposal?
Yes, yes, I do. Because people don't need them, it's really not a big — you don't need an assault weapon at all I think.
A gun-owning rancher in San Miguel County
Following the shooting in Boulder, some lawmakers have called for a statewide ban on assault weapons. Do you think that that is a good proposal?
Here's the thing. You know, my friends, children go in that (King Soopers) store and I've been in that store. My friends in Boulder County go in that store. You know, my personal choice has always been recently is that I'm not going anywhere anymore without my pistol still stuck in my belt. But as far as assault weapons go....I can rationalize and be on both sides of the question.
They're right that guns don't kill people. But what we need to do is make sure people that are mentally unbalanced aren't getting them. But assault weapons to me, I have no use for them, and they're designed to shoot people. And so while I'm kind of on both sides of the question, I would not, you know, rail against it.
Do you think that there are any kind of gun-related measures that lawmakers or the state should support?
You know, I'm not afraid of background checks...I don't know that background checks are effective. And, again, the background checks, they have seemed to be inadequate...But I guess I would say I would prefer to do something rather than nothing. And yet there are so many ways around all these things. I mean, the 3D printer, there's an awful lot of weapons in this country.
A librarian in Telluride
We are still in the aftermath of the shooting in Boulder and there have been some lawmakers who have suggested or asked for an assault weapons ban following that. How do you feel about that notion — do you think it's a good idea or not?
Of course, I do think it's a good idea. It seems to me that with every shooting, the assault weapon, the AR-15, I believe, is the culprit. And if you do the research and if you talk to people, there's no reason why that gun is even available. So why is it necessary? Is it just for fun? It's a difficult thing, but I think we should ban it. I think it should be gone. It's just not necessary. It's not necessary to hunt with. I have family members that hunt and they don't take the AR-15 with them to go hunt. So what else do you need it for? That's my mindset.
I'm so tired of people dying and people getting shot and I'm so tired of it being pushed under the carpet and there's so many issues. It's mental health. It's when are we going to say enough is enough and we keep on running into roadblocks that it's just not. And you can't take the guns away, and no one's saying take the guns away. Just let's make it a little bit harder to get to. Let's verify. Let's work it out. There's a system. There's clearly a system that works. Why can't it apply to this?
Do you think like as a state, Colorado is doing enough to prevent gun violence?
I think we're number one or number one in the country for gun violence actions at this point for mass shootings. I think we're number one. So my guess is, no, we're not doing enough. I mean, I'm so proud of our state for so many other things. But why does this keep happening here?
What do you think the legislature or the state should be doing?
More screenings. Making it more difficult (to get guns). Making a longer wait time. If there's anything on your record, then you should not be allowed to have one. I mean, ultimately, it's got to stop something. We haven't done enough. We haven't because it keeps on happening. So we have to do something. We have to try. If we don't try, then how would we know?
A painting contractor in Mt. Crested Butte
Some lawmakers from Boulder are calling for a statewide ban on assault weapons. Do you support such a proposal? Why or why not?
I don't support such a proposal, mostly because a lot of the weapons that they call assault weapons are actually weapons that could be used for hunting. And I think they look dangerous. But whether or not they're actually any more dangerous than other firearms is debatable.
Are there any gun measures you think lawmakers should consider?
Nothing that comes to mind right away. I mean, I believe that for the most part, the laws are in place. I guess it's debatable whether they're working at this point due to the large number of shootings that we're having.
Is Colorado doing enough to regulate firearms with the goal of preventing gun violence?
I'm not exactly sure what more they could do. Perhaps some sort of law should be in place that people who are found to be or mentally unstable should not be allowed to have or at least temporarily have firearms. Other than that, I think they're doing enough.
A former corrections officer living in Cortez
Some lawmakers in Boulder are calling for full ban of assault rifles or assault-style weapons. What do you think about such a ban?
It's always intent, you know, you should never punish good people and it's nobody's business what I choose to own with the money that I earn. That's that's the meat of the issue along with the Second Amendment, of course. But that is really the meat of the issue. That would be like me going to Boulder and saying, well, you know what? Nobody can own green shoes anymore. Well, why not? Well, because I don't like green shoes. You're not allowed to have those. Just because you don't understand how something works or you have fear, that's not a reason to take something away from law-abiding people.
Does there need to be changes? Absolutely. But it needs to be in the upholding of laws that we already have. It needs to be in harsher sentencing for criminals that break those laws to begin with.
Reporters conducting the interviews for this project included: Adam Rayes (KUNC, Greeley), Julia Caulfield (KOTO, Telluride), Christopher Biddle, (KBUT, Crested Butte) and Lucas Brady Woods (KSJD, Cortez)
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