In a sign of what the nation might hope is the start of a continuing trend, Colorado became the first Western state to adopt tougher gun control laws with the recent signing of legislation.
The measure, which is similar to what Vermont legislators were asked to consider but decided not to tackle this year, bans magazines for automatic assault-style weapons that hold more than 15 rounds and requires background checks made online or through private parties (like gun shows).
Colorado is the first state beyond the East Coast to strengthen its gun laws since last year’s shootings in Aurora in a movie theater killed 12 people and left 60 wounded, and the more recent shootings in Newtown, Conn. In addition to the ban on magazines holding more than 15 rounds, the law bans magazines with a smaller capacity but which can be easily converted to hold more than 15 rounds.
In their tired response, Republican opponents criticized the legislation saying some criminals will find ways to skirt the laws and that the measure will hurt the state’s economy by eliminating jobs. Seriously. In their response, Republican opponents offered no recognition that this style of assault weapon has been used by mentally ill people to walk into public spaces and wreak senseless havoc, and yet could buy the assault weapons with no questioning about their background — including criminal records or mental stability.
The modest proposals being made to bring a little sanity to state and national gun control laws is yet another argument (same sex marriage and the notion that we can’t keep cutting taxes to the wealthiest few are two others) in which Republicans need to take an accurate measure of the public’s pulse (roughly 80 percent of Americans support increased background checks and stricter control of assault-style weapons) before they discover, once again, they are on the wrong side of history.
The issue here is not about preventing Americans from owning guns, in general, but rather limiting access to highly specific weapons whose primary intent is to kill people with rapid-fire precision. Surely we can get most Americans, and even the gun lobby, to support a commonsense approach. Kudos to Colorado for leading the West. Hopefully in Vermont, we will take much needed action next year.
Angelo S. Lynn