They wore red to the Capitol.
A throng of students marched from East High School to the building where our elected officials debate the laws of the state. Most of the crowd wore red, their school color. It could as easily have been the color of spilled blood they came to protest against.
Luis Garcia, their classmate, succumbed Wednesday to the gunshot he suffered just over two weeks ago. He slipped away just before a planned gun safety summit organized by his classmates was scheduled to begin. They postponed that event to let people grieve, but they could not delay the anger and frustration that grew within them.
It is time that the people inside the Capitol take serious action. It is time to get the guns.
Between the day when Garcia was shot and the day he died, Democrats introduced a slate of new gun laws. The laws would institute a three-day waiting period between buying a gun and taking possession, make it easier to sue gun manufacturers and sellers, increase the age to own a gun to 21 (this rule already applies to handguns), and expand the state’s red flag law.
This is a good start. Allowing teachers, health care providers and district attorneys to initiate red flag proceedings broadens the potential scope of people looking out for the community. But it also relies on each recognizing the threat, believing a person has access to a firearm, and then following through.
And it does nothing about the weapons on our streets today.
The real threat that has gone unaddressed for too long across our country is the proliferation of guns and access to guns. Our country owns twice as many guns per capita as any other nation. We are fourth among the 40 largest countries in per capita deaths due to the use of firearms.
But this isn’t about the country as a whole. It is about Colorado.
This state is home to Columbine, the Aurora theater shooting, the Boulder supermarket attack and the murders at Club Q. And those are just some of the mass shootings that have taken place in our state.
That is how bad gun violence has been in Colorado. The incidents of mass killings cannot all be listed in a single column for the sake of brevity. Going through individual deaths is next to impossible.
That does not make Garcia’s death any less tragic. It does not make it any less worthy of our attention. That is exactly what those students marched to make us remember.
And now is the time to take bold action. After the 2022 election, Democrats own overwhelming majorities in both state houses and the governor’s office. And I do mean own.
As I have written, the Colorado Republican Party is dead. While I am sure the ghosts of 2013 recall elections still haunt some Democrats, the fear of the next child dead from a gunshot wound should scare them more. They are not going to lose their majorities in the next decade, if ever. They may even solidify them if they take even more direct action.
That means getting assault-style guns off the streets. It means cracking down hard on handguns. It means going after ghost guns and criminals who resort to violence.
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I happen to be a gun owner. But I have also run through a Las Vegas casino afraid of an active shooter, texted with my wife as she hid huddled inside a classroom as a gunman walked outside, and paid attention as an officer married to a high school friend has recovered after being shot in the neck by an assailant.
I would hand over my gun if the legislature took action.
The kids from East High School marched on the Capitol and wore red. But they spoke for all of us who want a safer world. It is time to get the guns.
Mario Nicolais is an attorney and columnist who writes on law enforcement, the legal system, health care and public policy. Follow him on Twitter: @MarioNicolaiEsq.
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