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Opinion Columns

Crisanta Duran: “Never again” must be more than just words

Our Colorado communities know all too well the deep pain caused by gun violence. From the Columbine shooting in 1999 to the May shooting at the STEM school of Highlands Ranch, gun violence has made a lasting impact on our communities. 

The shootings of the past couple of weeks in Dayton, Ohio, and Chicago, Illinois, and those by white supremacist terrorists in Gilroy, California, and El Paso, Texas, serve as reminders of the incredible pain gun violence has wrought on our country.

Crisanta Duran

We cannot afford to watch any more of our fellow Americans be shot down because Congress is unwilling to take a bold stand against the NRA. I have a record as a leader in the fight against gun violence from my time in the Colorado State House, and will bring the lessons I have learned on this issue with me to Washington D.C. to make real change happen in Congress.

After the Arapahoe shooting, I was optimistic that through collaboration with then-Senate Republican Leader Mark Scheffel, we could craft real legislation through our newly-formed, bipartisan School Safety and Youth in Crisis Committee.

We succeeded in uniting a divided legislature behind passing the landmark HB16-1063 bill, signed by then-Gov. John Hickenlooper, which gave mental health professionals the authority to disclose information to law enforcement about clients who have expressed threats to schools.

We also helped usher through the passage of SB16-193, which expanded Safe2Tell violence-prevention resources in schools and other organizations serving young people.  

I took on the gun lobby and the NRA and fought for solutions to keep guns out of the wrong hands during my time in the legislature.

Unfortunately, the aggressive lobbying of the NRA and the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners often turned unifying projects into hyper-partisan fights. Despite this, I am proud of what we accomplished, and I’m proud that we successfully passed increased school safety funding, universal background checks on gun purchases, a ban on high-capacity magazines and other important measures.

When I was the Speaker of the House in Colorado, we even laid the policy groundwork for the eventual passage in 2019 of the “red flag law” that Gov. Jared Polis recently signed. 

READ: Colorado Sun opinion columnists.

Even with a rise in deceptive influence campaigns attempting to block policy at the state and national levels, I believe that leaders can and should come together across party lines to holistically mitigate the sources of our gun violence crisis in our communities. As this month has shown, we cannot keep kicking the can on this issue any longer. 

If I am elected to Congress, I will advocate for common-sense federal reforms, including: universal background checks, extreme risk protection laws, tighter oversight for gun dealers to ensure weapons don’t end up in the wrong hands and holding gun manufacturers liable for harm caused through a federal right of action. 

In the pursuit of taking gun violence head on, we must recognize that our country has a serious white nationalist terrorism problem that has been ignored for far too long.

I will support efforts to identify and preempt the dangerous ideological spread of white supremacist terrorism online and in our communities, including by standing up to the current president who espouses these views. 

Making these important changes that our communities so desperately need will not be easy, and I am ready and willing to do the hard work to make change happen.

I will hold tough and inclusive conversations with all my colleagues and constituents. I will meet with all interested parties, from responsible gun owners to law enforcement officials to mothers who lost children to gun violence, to make sure we are centering our shared humanity and American values in gun violence prevention policy going forward. 

After the Columbine shooting, we said “never again.” After Aurora, we said “never again.” After Arapahoe, we said “never again.” After Highlands Ranch, we said “never again.”

Now after Dayton, Gilroy and El Paso, we must act to make sure “never again” is more than just words. I believe it needs to be a rallying call for all of us — Democrats and Republicans — to do better and get something done to address this crisis afflicting our communities. 

Former Colorado House Speaker Crisanta Duran is seeking to be the Democratic candidate in the state’s 1st Congressional District.

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