AURORA – On Tuesday night in an interview on CNN, filmmaker Michael Moore chastised President Obama for shying away from a call for stricter gun control laws in the aftermath of the theater shooting here last Friday that killed 12 and wounded 58 others.
“What if it were them?” Moore said, referencing Obama’s two children. “What if it were them last Thursday night? Would you stand at the microphone and say ‘I feel your pain’ and ‘the existing gun laws are enough’?”
In the case of state Rep. Rhonda Fields, it was her child — not in the movie theater massacre that’s rocker the community she now represents, but back in 1995, when Javad Marshall-Fields, who was set to testify in a murder trial, was gunned down along with his girlfriend, Vivian Wolfe.
And now, Fields, a Democrat, is echoing Moore’s call for elected officials to lead a new call for stronger gun control laws.
“I think we need bold leadership in both parties to stand up and address gun violence,” Fields told FOX31 Denver. “If we don’t, we’re going to get more of the same.”
Last Friday’s shooting spree has highlighted for many that a 10-year federal ban on assault weapons ran out in 2004.
Fields, like Colorado Congressman Ed Perlmutter, D-Aurora, and Congresswoman Diana DeGette, is among those now calling for that ban to be renewed.
“Just to purchase an AR-15 assault rifle that has this capacity clip that can give out 50-60 rounds of bullets, it just doesn’t seem that that’s right,” Fields said. “We need to ban that.
“As a government, we cannot allow people to have assault weapons. I think when we do that, we put our community at risk, we put police officers at risk.”
Gun proponents, none of them more strident than Dudley Brown, who leads Rocky Mountain Gun Owners in Windsor, argue that mass shootings shouldn’t be blamed on the weapons themselves or used to advance a gun control agenda.
“There are a great number of Americans, especially out here in the west, who own firearms, including AR-15s, and don’t commit any crimes, of course,” Brown told FOX31 Denver. “What we think would have stopped Columbine and would have stopped this theater shooting are more citizens carrying concealed weapons.”
Colorado is one of 10 states where gun deaths outnumber automobile fatalities, according to the Violence Policy Center; and gun deaths are actually on the rise from about 440 in 2000 to about 550 in 2010, according to data from the Colorado Health Information Dataset, while auto fatalities have been in steady decline over the last decade.
In Fields’ view, the uptick in gun violence is costing the state.
“The cost of having assault weapons in our community is huge. It’s a public safety issue, it is a public health issue,” Fields said.
“When I think about the cost of the massacre that we just had in our community, with the expense on our criminal justice system, the expense of health care — some of our victims do not have healthcare, they’re under-insured; there’s a patient already, their bill is already a million dollars. So we are paying for this ability to have access to this kind of assault weapon.
“We have controls on all kinds of things, and I think that we can have better control as it relates to guns, and I think we just have to step up to it.”