Gun bill to require background checks: "Enough is enough," says Rhonda Fields
With President Obama unveiling sweeping gun control proposals and New York swiftly passing the nation's toughest gun laws, it's time for Colorado to push forward with its own legislation to curb violence. At least that's the thinking of Representative Rhonda Fields, who next week will introduce a bill that requiring background checks for all private gun sales. And she says she is more optimistic than ever that it could pass.
"People are sick and tired of the bloodshed," says Fields, a Democrat who represents Aurora. "I really praise the president for taking a stand on gun violence.... It's a huge validation and it causes me to be very optimistic. I might have a good chance of passing legislation."
Fields is one of several local lawmakers in Colorado who are backing gun-related legislation in the wake of the elementary school shooting in Connecticut last month that left twenty children and six adults dead. But even before that tragedy, Colorado was poised to have a contentious gun debate this legislative session, in part because Governor John Hickenlooper signaled that the time was right for such a debate nearly six months after July's Aurora theater shooting.
Sam Levin Rep. Rhonda Fields, right, at a recent press conference about the Aurora theater shooting.
Since the legislative session began last week, there have already been several new developments on this subject. Hickenlooper, in his State of the State address, supported universal background checks -- and at the same time, Republican lawmakers are promoting a controversial bill allowing permitted employees to bring guns into schools.
Fields has been planning to introduce some sort of gun control legislation since the Aurora theater shooting. The topic is personal for her: She lost her son to gun violence in 2005.
"Because I'm a crime victim, I'm constantly reminded of my past and my own experience," she says. "And as a crime victim, it's very reassuring to hear the President of the United States say that he wants to do something to address gun violence. It felt reassuring."
Fields is drafting a bill that would make it mandatory for individuals buying guns to go through background checks. Currently, she explains, Colorado law doesn't require that buyers pass these checks if the sale is done privately.
If her bill passed, it would mean that individuals couldn't simply buy guns online through Craigslist or other websites, thereby avoiding background checks.
"Everyone who wants to have a gun is eligible for it," she says of her proposal. "They are not a felon. They are not someone who is a violent domestic abuser...or someone who is dangerous."
Continue for more of our interview with Representative Rhonda Fields.