Gun bills hurt rights, help nothing
By state Rep. Timothy Dore
Evil exists. It is a kind of darkness which can take on many forms: a terrorist bent on killing hundreds, a psychotically disturbed man who will kill another man for no rational reason, or a mentally disturbed individual who takes a gun to a school with the intent to harm the most innocent among us.
Our response to evil is to focus on being the light in these situations, working against evil to change a culture that too often is fixated on death and violence, and loses sight of life. We need a cultural change, one that refocuses on good, and this must be done in our state Legislature and with the people of Colorado.
Recently we were presented with four bills that were supposed to address violence in our society. The state House debated these bills for 17 hours over the course of two days, and I opposed each of them.
My opposition was not because I do not want to see a safer Colorado or guns in the hands of the wrong people; in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. If I thought any of the pieces of legislation could cure our cultural ills I would sponsor such legislation. Contrary to belief, these proposals universally do nothing to protect law-abiding citizens. Instead, the four measures debated infringe on Second Amendment rights and add hurdles for law-abiding citizens to exercise their constitutional right and liberties.
Specifically, House Bills 1224, 1226, 1228 and 1229 are misguided attempts to create solutions without addressing the real problems. House Bill 1224, which purports to protect people by limiting the size of a magazine to 15 rounds of ammunition, is not authentic. What this legislation really does is destroys jobs and money from tourism. It is reported that as many as 1,000 jobs, from two gun magazines producers, will leave Colorado, as they have said they would have to do if this legislation becomes law.
Additionally, many out-of-state sports enthusiasts are likely to have second thoughts about visiting Colorado. Many who come to our beautiful state to enjoy one of our many recreational activities will no longer come and we will see a direct economic impact as a result. This is not what the voters asked for last November; they asked for more jobs to come to Colorado, more tourists to have incentive to visit our state, and HB 1224 could do the exact opposite.
House Bills 1228 and 1229 deal with background checks on all gun transfers, including private transfers (HB 1229) and paying for background checks (HB 1228). I support background checks, as we have had them in this country since 1993; in many cases they have stopped persons with ill intent from having a gun.
These new measures go beyond what Coloradans understand background checks to do; they are not common sense and not good for Colorado. These bills will require a background check and allow “Big Brother government” to judge the relationships you have with friends and extended relatives in transferring your gun. In addition, House Bill 1228 requires working men and women of Colorado who want to exercise their Second Amendment rights to do so at the costs of $10, which is in effect a tax. These measures are designed to end all private gun transactions — create a paper trail and in so doing, expand government's knowledge of the whereabouts of the guns in our state.
The last piece of legislation (HB 1226) deals with disallowing college students, 21 and older, from carrying concealed guns on public college campuses. This piece of legislation is unnecessary, and in fact, since allowing students to carry on campuses, the numbers of crimes on campuses have decreased.
Instead, this measure weakens students' ability to defend themselves, especially female students, and likely empowers criminals already intending on doing harm. In my opinion, by eliminating gun-free zones and promoting greater public safety, we can stay away from legislation like this, which does nothing to protect our safety or liberties by their enactment.
The days spent on those bills, days filled with heated debate and occasional inaccuracies, demonstrate a deep divide in our state on such policy issues. Democrats, with the exception of Reps. Ed Vigil and LeRoy Garcia, demonstrated their willingness to toe a liberal, bigger government line, even at the cost of losing jobs, hurting our state's economy and violating longstanding rights, liberties and safety.
This will not be the last debate around guns and violence, but until we recognize our inability to address this issue through legislation, and instead begin to fight off the darkness and replace it with light, by saying no to a culture of death and yes to a culture of life, we will not see change, no matter how many pieces of law we enact or pretend to legislate.
State Rep. Timothy Dore serves House District 64, which includes Elbert County.