DENVER (CBS4)- Gov. John Hickenlooper called for a discussion about gun control in Colorado’s 2013 Legislature one day before 20 school children were gunned down in Newtown, Conn.
“When you are in the middle of it and you are with those families and talking to them, the level of pain that they are going through,” said Hickenlooper.
Hickenlooper knows about watching families struggle in the midst of overwhelming grief. It was just a few months ago when 12 people were killed and 58 others injured July 20 in the Cinemark Theater in Aurora during a midnight showing of “Batman: The Dark Knight Rises.”
Colorado continues to remember the 12 students and one teacher who were killed in a shooting at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999 by gunmen and fellow students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.
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On Friday morning, a man killed his mother at their home in Newtown, Conn. and then opened fire inside an elementary school, massacring 26 people, including 20 children. The gunman then killed himself.
The rampage, coming less than two weeks before Christmas, was the nation’s second-deadliest school shooting, exceeded only by the Virginia Tech massacre that claimed 33 lives in 2007.
Hickenlooper said that kind of pain warrants a discussion about gun control when the time is right.
“If you are going to have shootings so frequently, when are you going to have the time to have the discussion?” said Hickenlooper. “These are issues that are going to get discussed.”
He said gun control conversations will happen during next year’s State Legislature.
State Representative Beth McCann, a Democrat representing Denver, supports gun laws. She believes specific bills will be introduced during the session.
“I think we need to talk about the general issues of possession, sale of guns and the kinds of folks able to buy and use guns in Colorado,” said McCann.
Gun advocates believe this is the time for gun owners to become active and make their opinions known.
“They can’t sit back on the couch and expect politicians to avoid them. They’ve got to do something to defend their rights,” said Rocky Mountain Gun Owners spokesman Dudley Brown.
Hickenlooper believes making sure those who suffer from a mental illness do not have access to guns will be discussed as well as violence in our culture, including video games and media.
“We don’t have in orders of magnitude, different numbers of guns than they do in Canada. They have tons of shotguns, handguns and sport shooting, but they don’t have anywhere near the same level of gun violence that we do. Why is that?” asked Hickenlooper.