EDITORIAL: Don’t let shrill gun-rights lobbyists hold gun-control debate hostage at the Capitol

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Amidst the agony of victims and their families having to relive the horror of the July 20 Century 16 theater shootings, state legislators convene this week, many intent on preventing anything like this from happening again.

They need your help.

Aurora prosecutors on Jan, 9 were laying out details of their case against accused mass-murderer James Holmes, and how easily and legally he amassed the arsenal he unleashed on a packed movie theater. At the same time, pro-gun rights activists were marching on the state Capitol as legislators called the 2013 session to order.

For too many of these activists and lobbyists, the issue of gun restrictions is an all-or-none affair, and they demand “none.” It’s ludicrous.

As the details unfold of what Holmes did, and how he did it, it’s become increasingly clear that the state and the country, is awash in easily obtained weapons, technology and ammunition that is intended only for military and criminal use. Set aside the facts that repeatedly make clear that most societies with strict gun control and fewer guns owned by citizens have fewer gun-related murders and crimes. Our own country has moved dangerously beyond an unnerving handgun craze and now is encouraging people to arm themselves with weapons, ammunition and body armor that can only result in massacres like the ones here in Aurora, recently in an Oregon mall and horrifically, in an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.

This is where it must stop. No matter how you interpret the U.S. constitutional right to “bear arms,” we do not and can not allow arms to include nuclear weapons, bazookas, tanks or what is becoming the personal equivalent to that: The James Holmes Arsenal. It is unacceptable that we should be told by elected leaders and gun lobbyists that it is either too late to enact effective gun regulations, too hard, or that anything approved would be ineffective in stemming these heinous, public massacres. Such cynicism is as un-American as it gets.

The public needs to push back against these politically motivated cynics and obstructionists to allow for intelligent and thoughtful debate on what will or won’t be effective ways to stem public massacres.

Most likely, the debate will center on whether those outside of the police and military should have access to assault-style weapons, whether to monitor or limit the amount and type of ammunition sold to the public, whether to do more to identify people who are mentally unstable and prevent them from purchasing or obtaining weapons. The tactics used by pro-gun-rights lobbyists before now has been to silence public discussion before it starts, and to open an all-out assault against any effort to increase or expand any type of weapon regulation.

By contacting elected officials and telling them to stand firm against such tactics, we embolden and empower state lawmakers to give ideas a fair and critical hearing. As a statewide community, it’s time to move beyond the minority of shrill, paranoid obstructionists calling the shots for all of us and endangering public safety with their self-appointed veto power. But it will take courage, it will take perseverance and it will take action from those outside the gun lobby to follow through with making their voices heard above the din.

 

Go to www.leg.state.co.us or call 1-888-473-8136 to contact your state lawmaker and make clear you want the issue to be heard and not ignored.