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Colorado Embodies Nation’s Divide Over Gun Control

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Colorado Embodies Nation’s Divide Over Gun Control


By Kurtis Lee, Los Angeles Times (TNS)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — In this slice of the Rocky Mountains, bloodshed has arrived yet again, renewing passionate debate over whether gun control makes a community safer or places it more at risk.

While mass shootings have become more common all across the country, in Colorado, home to Columbine High School, the Aurora movie theater and, now, a Planned Parenthood clinic, the events resonate with profound power. And in a state neatly divided among Democrats, Republicans and unaffiliated voters, no one side in the gun debate prevails for long.

Time and again in the wake of these shootings, Democrats demand tougher gun laws, while Republicans call reforms unnecessary and unlikely to stop violence.

“There’s no reason this should continue to happen,” Tom Sullivan said of Friday’s violence that left a police officer, Garrett Swasey, and two civilians dead after a gunman opened fire in a Planned Parenthood office here. Sullivan’s son, Alex, was killed three years ago in the theater shooting on what was his 27th birthday. “People who should not have guns walking around with guns shooting people. Why? Because they’re mad?”

Sullivan works with groups including Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Everytown for Gun Safety in calling for stricter gun laws nationwide.

In the months after the theater shooting, he helped Colorado lawmakers, mostly Democrats, push for new laws to impose 15-round limits on ammunition magazines and universal background checks on all gun sales and transfers.

At the time, the debate over the gun bills was so contentious that legislative committee rooms were often filled to capacity. Added security was provided to lawmakers in and around the Capitol.

The legislation became law, but in yet another sign of Colorado’s divided nature over guns, it also led to the ouster of two lawmakers that year, state Sens. John Morse of Colorado Springs and Angela Giron of Pueblo, in recall elections. A third state lawmaker chose to resign rather than face a recall election. All three are Democrats.

Laura Carno, a conservative activist from Colorado Springs who led the charge to recall Morse, wants to see a repeal of the state’s new gun laws.

“They don’t make anyone safer,” said Carno, citing the Planned Parenthood attack and a separate incident last month where a man shot and killed three people in Colorado Springs’ downtown corridor.

“These gun laws don’t keep guns out of the hands of criminals, because they’re criminals. … All they do is keep me from being able to buy the firearm of my choice,” she said.

On Saturday, law enforcement officials were still in search of a motive behind the rampage at Planned Parenthood, noting it could take several weeks before the investigation is complete. The Associated Press, quoting an unnamed official Saturday night, reported that Robert Lewis Dear, who surrendered to police, said “no more baby parts” after his arrest.

Police said Dear, 57, had carried a rifle but would not provide further details or say whether the weapon would have been illegal under the state’s new gun laws.

President Barack Obama, in what’s become a refrain after a shooting, called for more gun-control laws.

“This is not normal,” Obama said in a statement Saturday. “We can’t let it become normal. If we truly care about this … we have to do something about the easy accessibility of weapons of war on our streets.”

While Colorado lawmakers for the most part avoided blunt talk about gun control, Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper and Republican Mayor John Suthers of Colorado Springs did stand side by side at a news conference Saturday, vowing not to utter the suspected gunman’s name in public.

But in the past the two men have split over the issue of gun control. Hickenlooper was a staunch supporter of the new gun laws, while Suthers, who recently ended an eight-year term as state attorney general, opposed the measures.

When asked Saturday how he continues to deal with shootings in his state, Hickenlooper said the key is to persevere — and that discussions about preventing more bloodshed can come later.

“We will continue,” he said. “This is going to be our entire country, trying to figure out, how do we address issues around violence in our community. And the key here is, I don’t think this is the time to have that discussion.”

In 1999, Columbine High School, in a sleepy suburb of Denver, opened America’s eyes to the horrors of a mass shooting when 12 students and one educator were killed. And three years ago, in Aurora, a suburb less than 20 miles from the high school, movie-goers watched as a dozen people were slaughtered at a midnight premiere of a Batman film.

Each of those events brought added pressure to law enforcement and for their family members, including Donovan Ford.

Ford’s father, John Ford, is a 25-year veteran of the Colorado Springs Police Department and was one of five officers injured in the Planned Parenthood siege.

Donovan Ford, like many in the state, chose to focus on the victims of Friday’s shooting and the officers who rushed to the scene knowing a gunman was loose. He recently joined the Minneapolis Police Department and said he received a phone call Friday that he’s always dreaded.

“When you have a parent in law enforcement, you never know if they’re going to come home,” he said. “I’m lucky my dad will be OK. It’s just all-around terrible.”

(c)2015 Los Angeles Times. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Ambulances wait on a road leading to a Planned Parenthood center after reports of an active shooter in Colorado Springs, November 27, 2015. REUTERS/Isaiah J. Downing



  1. Whatmeworry November 29, 2015

    Guns should only be in the hands of law enforcement and nobody else

    1. RED November 30, 2015

      Hey, I’m all for gun control but I’m not sure law enforcement should be carrying guns, after all no one, NO ONE I’m this country murders more innocent people and destroys more lives that the thugs in blue!

      1. yabbed November 30, 2015

        Instead of sending our police department training officers to Israel to learn how to treat US citizens like Palestinians, we should send our cops to England to learn how to police without killing anyone.

      2. Eleanore Whitaker November 30, 2015

        How many cops slaughter 11 kids in a classroom? How many shoot dozens in a mall or a theater?

        If the situation with cops has gotten out of hand, how about we cut the number of guns gun manufacturers are allowed to manufacturer for public sale? No country needs 2 million guns a year manufactured for public use.

        1. RED November 30, 2015

          Eleanor, somehow you often manage to mis-interpret my comments and forget who I am. It must be because my initials happen to be R.E.D. I’m not defending the gun nuts or saying that we don’t need better gun regulations. I was responding to the comment about only police having guns and reminding them that police are some of the most prolific murderers we have in this country, no other group kills more people.

    2. FireBaron November 30, 2015

      They tried that and it never worked.

  2. Insinnergy November 29, 2015

    Closer to The Hunger Games every year.

  3. bcarreiro November 30, 2015

    The 1st amendment should never resort to the second…don’t allow hate to consume the heart but truth is many do and where (their) is a will there is a way.

  4. yabbed November 30, 2015

    There is no legitimate reason for any civilian to own a handgun or a semi automatic assault weapon. A bolt action rifle or a shotgun is sufficient for hunting or home protection. We cannot continue to tolerate people walking around in public with guns. We cannot continue to tolerate warfare worthy guns in our public lives. Hunters can hunt, homeowners can protect themselves. No civilian needs a handgun or a semi automatic assault weapon.

    1. FireBaron November 30, 2015

      Why the problem with a handgun? Here’s a story for you.

      Back in the 70s, a friend of mine was deer hunting. He had his .243 Winchester Model 70 – a really well-made bolt-action rifle perfect for Whitetail. He was also wearing his .44 on his hip. This was in upstate NY woods where any shot over 50 yards is considered long distance, thus the .243.. Next thing he knows, he is rounding a boulder and encounters a bear.

      Now the bear being slightly upset, he reared up in his anger, then dropped down and attempted to chase my buddy. Being of sound mind and relatively decent shape, he did what most of us would have done – he turned around and ran. Dumb move on his part – an adult Black Bear can outrun pretty much everyone slower than Usain Bolt.

      While running, he realized he was still holding his Model 70. Figuring two things – 1) it was weighing him down and 2) he could come back later and retrieve it, he dropped the gun and kept running. So far, so good. Then he tripped. Oh, did I mention, he was a deputy sheriff, trained in the use of his handgun? So, as he fell, he turned, drew his revolver and let loose with all six shots. As he was alive to relate what happened to me, you can guess the outcome. He had the taxidermist leave the bullet holes, too!

      While my personal protection piece of preference is a Remington 870 or a Winchester Model 12, sometimes you need something not as long, say a Ruger .357 – also one of my preferred pieces.

    2. David November 30, 2015

      Sorry, but the 2nd Amendment ain’t about duck hunting. You would prefer us to be unarmed serfs rather than free men? Molon labe

  5. johninPCFL November 30, 2015

    I’m sure he was just exercising his second amendment right to impose his religious views on everyone else.

  6. rednekokie November 30, 2015

    The current interpretation of the second amendment is one of the most absurd ideas ever to come down the pike. The idea that anyone can carry a death-dealing instrument anywhere one wants is ludicrous.
    No one ever needs a firearm save to hunt game for food.

    No one save the military on duty needs a military weapon – for any reason.
    Until this is resolved, with ALL military weapons confiscated, we will continue to have ignorant nut jobs who listen to the bigots and believe that legitimate clinics are peddling “baby parts”, whatever that is, and should be shot down.
    God help us if we don’t straighten this out —

    1. David November 30, 2015

      Well, the “current interpretation of the 2nd Amendment has been the same for about two hundred years. Guess what? The 2nd Amendment ain’t about duck hunting. Molon labe

  7. Eleanore Whitaker November 30, 2015

    Some very big mouth, rabble rousing middle aged bully men in the US are desperate to take over our streets. Most of them are low lifes like this guy in CO. They want nothing more than to BE the only mouths you hear. As sick as these morons are, the sound of gun fire is music to their ears. Snuffing out innocent lives is just a sick game to them.

    Everyone of the last dozen mass murders were committed by BULLY WHITE males. Who raised these thugs?


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