Gun Control in Colorado
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On April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, senior boys Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris killed twelve student, one teacher, and wounded 23 others before killing themselves. Klebold’s girlfriend bought three of the weapons that were used for the shooting after she turned 18 and the fourth weapon was bought directly from a gun owner that didn’t require a background check. The owner of the gun shop should have been suspicious of an 18 year old wanting to buy two shotguns and a rifle.These should have been red flags.
As a resident here in Colorado, I believe that we should stand as a community together and be able to talk about gun control without being scared or upset for the past events, like Columbine, that have happened. Events like Columbine should bring the community of Colorado together, not avoid the problems. Looking at what other states are doing to improve their gun control laws can be a way to get some guidance on what steps we need to take.
Many laws in Colorado have improved because of many other shooting events that have happened but there are still some laws that need some changes. And in order for events like these to never occur again, gun control laws in Colorado should be re-evaluated and revised into new laws that will be stricter and safer.
Restricting the sale of guns to people with prior criminal records can decrease the amount of crimes connected with guns. Background checks are used to see if the person applying for a weapon has had any felonies in the past or any criminal history. With people that have had any criminal history, consideration to grant the application for a weapon can be difficult but denying those applications can be for the best. According to Yablon, certain restrictions can be used to lower crime rates.“Gun restrictions on those who have received [restraining orders] are believed to be among the most effective reducers of domestic homicide” (Yablon).People that have restraining orders or protection orders should be the kind of people that a background check should look for because it may prevent a serious act to happen.
There are some states that don’t look at just what may hurt others, but may hurt yourself as well. “South Carolina, for example, denies the right to own a gun to anyone known to abuse alcohol, which the federal government does not track, despite being the substance known to be most associated with gun violence” (Yablon). For South Carolina, this law that they have isn’t tracked by the government which means that they go through the system of looking deeper into a person’s background check by themselves. But in the long run, has decreased their crime rate.
Another big issue that has been seen throughout gun related cases, is that abusive relationships makes up a big chunk of those cases. Yablon says, “Sixty percent of intimate partner homicides are committed with guns, and the risk of death grows five-fold if a women is in an abusive relationship with a man who has access to a gun” (Yablon). Due to the large percentage of homicides connected with relationships, Colorado passed a law in 2013 that would not allow anyone with a domestic abuse background to purchase a gun. By looking at other state’s laws, Colorado can move forward into making gun control laws more stable.
Law-makers in Colorado should also focus on improving laws that deal with the process of buying a firearm. Buying a firearm has a certain process and regulations, and every state is different. Colorado does not have an age requirement for someone to be able to purchase a weapon. And because there is no state law, the federal law takes its place, making it legal for someone to buy a shotgun if they are 18 years of age and 21 years of age to purchase a handgun. This law made it easy for the shooters of Columbine High School to receive access to weapons. One of the shooter’s mom, Sue Klebold, felt like it was too easy for his son and friend to buy guns. “I still cannot help but believe that Dylan and Eric would not have been able to take the lives of so many if they had not had such easy access to guns” (Klebold). Although that school shooting was in 1999, there haven’t been many changes made to decrease the amount of deaths or shootings in Colorado. According to a Colorado state law summary, “In 2013, Colorado ranked 25th in the number of gun deaths per capita among the states. 619 people died from firearms injuries in Colorado in that year” (“Search”). This is almost two deaths per day in Colorado for the year of 2013. A way to decrease so many firearm accidents is to limit the amount of weapons someone can purchase in a certain time period. “Virginia’s one-gun-a-month law significantly reduced the number of crime guns traced to Virginia dealers” (Search). By limiting the amount of weapons that a person can purchase, crimes can be reduced and even prevented. If there were a law that limited the amount of weapons bought in one month, the devastating event of Columbine shooting could have been prevented. Stricter laws should be something that Colorado lawmakers consider.
The state of Colorado also does not have any law that specifies the amount of waiting time a person has to go through for them to be able to own the weapon purchased. The law center to prevent gun violence says that, “Waiting periods give law enforcement officials sufficient time to perform background checks and provide a ‘cooling off’ period to help guard against impulsive acts of violence” (“Because”). Not only do waiting period give time to fully do the background check, it also allows them to see if there are any people that might use those weapons for violence. Connecting this back with the incident of Columbine, if there would have been a waiting time for Klebold’s girlfriend, who was the person that gave Klebold and Harris the guns, to receive the guns, there might have been a different outcome of how the situation ended. Many states require waiting periods before a purchase of a firearm. “Eleven states and the District of Columbia currently have waiting periods that apply to the purchase of some or all firearms” (Because). Since 2013, there have been eleven states in total that have made a law that requires a certain waiting period before purchasing a weapon and if Colorado had a new like that to practice, crime rates would go down.
Some people see weapons as something that can’t be kept away from everyone, and that’s true. Jones, summarized a bit of what Obama had to say about gun control, “Obama assures us that he can control who will be allowed to own a machine that is capable of killing indiscriminately” (Jones). However, the problem with this statement is that now people are required to take a background check before purchasing a gun. And to make this even better, a waiting time period could help see if someone will use that weapon for violence. In an american politics website, author Lexington writes, “Gun fans have also said, as they always do, that the root cause of gun massacres is mental illness, not guns” (Lexington). Lexington is trying to use sarcasm to show that background checks don’t work because the majority of the people that do massacre attacks are people that are mentally ill. There is a certain truth to this but everyone needs to know that it isn’t just the background check itself but the way the background check is processed and the different criteria that the background checks have. While guns can’t be kept away from anyone, stricter gun laws will help reduce guns being in the wrong hands.
Background checks are tests that do research everything about a person and many people complain that is an invasion of their privacy. When a person tries to purchase a gun, they have to take a background check first. According to a pro and con website, “Gun control laws such as background checks and micro-stamping are an invasion of privacy” (“Gun”). Background checks do look into a person’s personal life but it’s for the good of many people. When one person purchases a gun, it is crucial to know what that person’s criminal background is like but some people see that as an issue as well. Another con from ProCon was, “Background checks would require government databases that keep personal individual information on gun owners, including name, addresses, mental health history, criminal records, and more” (“Gun”). All of this information shouldn’t be something to hide if everything is ok and clean. Like I had mentioned earlier, having gun restrictions towards people that have had some sort of domestic violence crime, can lower domestic homicides. By looking into a person’s life, you may be able to save another. Although it may invade some people’s privacy, people should want to take these background checks to lower crime rates related with guns and if someone isn’t hiding anything, there shouldn’t be a problem
As I considered the ways gun control could stop future school shootings, I decided to interview First Sergeant Todd Blanton on April 7, 2016. He was a great candidate for this interview because he has was in the US army for 24 years and he has had a lot of experience with guns. I wanted to see if he was a gun owner and sure enough, he was. I asked him if he believed that by taking guns away from people, gun violence would decrease and he explained that, “By having no guns, there is no family security. Criminals will be entering homes that have no weapons to defend themselves” (Blanton). In that situation, anyone would wish that they had a weapon to defend themselves and their family. Going back to taking all guns away, First Sergeant Blanton connected guns with drugs. “Cocaine is illegal in the United States, but someone can still manage to get their hands on them. If the government takes all guns away completely, the wrong people will be the ones getting their hands on them illegally” (Blanton). As a First Sergeant, he explained all the types of guns that he has dealt with and he has knowledge of many weapons. When I asked him if he believed that there should be restrictions on certain kind of firearms, he responded with, “Absolutely! There should be no reason why someone owns a bazooka. Certain guns are made for a certain job which means that people need certain training to be able to use that certain gun. They shouldn’t just be able enter a store and buy it” (Blanton). The only problem that he saw with this was the people that call themselves “collectors”. A collector is someone that buys guns to have them for display, they don’t necessarily use them. And the problem that First Sergeant saw with this was, “Trying to identify the collectors in Colorado would be very difficult for the government because some of these collectors don’t even take a background check when they buy a gun, usually at auctions or gun shows. Although gun shows are kinda sketchy” (Blanton). Todd Blanton saw ways to find a solution for problems but with those solutions, there was also new problems that arose. I definitely agreed with many of the things that he had to say about his ideas with guns and gun control especially because of his background experience.
Through everything that Colorado has gone through, stricter gun control laws need to be brought into the state to make it a safer place. As a community, we need to stand together and be able to talk about this because it’s a problem that needs to be talked about. Since 1999 with the Columbine High School shooting, to last year in 2015 when there was a shooting at the Planned Parenthood Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado has gone through rough times but it’s time to stop this and be able to move forward on a positive note. As a community, we need to be informed on what the current presidential candidates are proposing to do with gun control laws. The effect that this will have is a more united community and a more informed community. Not only will this affect the people that will vote but also the future generation because they are the ones that will have to grow up with the decisions that ones makes. Let’s make guntrol something that isn’t scary to talk about and be something that people can join ideas with and become informed. There are laws that need to be improved and there are also laws that other states have that might be a good idea to add into our own Colorado laws. Colorado needs to unite and bring the safest laws to the gun control topic. We need stricter gun control laws here in Colorado! We wouldn’t want another Columbine shooting, right?