Our 2013 legislative session was the most productive in a long while. We modernized the way we fund schools and conduct elections. We raised renewable-energy standards and allowed undocumented Colorado high school graduates to get in-state tuition to attend college. We passed laws to regulate and tax recreational marijuana after voters legalized the drug in a 2012 ballot measure. And we extended equal rights for all couples by allowing civil unions. I find it helpful to remind people that 95 percent of the legislation we passed had bipartisan support.
A wide range of special interests that have never been concerned about efforts to curb gun violence were more than happy to let the national gun lobby take the lead in the campaign to remove us from office. The industrialist Koch brothers were also heavily involved in the recalls, which probably owed more to our efforts to limit harmful carbon emissions than our efforts to limit gun violence.
Legislators fearful of speaking their conscience should remember that various supporters came to our aid as well. While the news media seemed to care only about contributions from Michael Bloomberg, equally robust support came from organizations supporting workers, conservation groups, women’s groups and thousands of individual donors, to say nothing of the efforts of groups such as Colorado Ceasefire, Americans for Responsible Solutions and Moms Demand Action.
I didn’t seek elected office with an agenda to address gun safety. I entered the state Senate intent on advocating for women, children and communities of color. Their demand for safe gun laws is not going away, and neither am I.
Our story is not the cautionary tale the gun lobby would have you believe it is. Beneath the disappointment of not starting the 2014 legislative session with our colleagues, I feel a sense of peace and pride. There is now a counterbalance to the national gun lobby and a growing base of outspoken supporters. Politicians who have the courage to do the right thing and stand up to the gun lobby will from now on have the support of organizations willing to stand with the majority of Americans who want common-sense gun laws.
As Robert F. Kennedy said, “It is the essence of responsibility to put the public good ahead of personal gain.” Today, Colorado is safer because of the laws we passed. I have no regrets about that. One day Washington, D.C., and states that lack sensible gun laws may be safer as well.
Read more from Outlook, friend us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.