Briefline

More gun reform needed, Rep. Crow says on eve of Aurora shooting anniversary

By: - July 19, 2022 4:03 pm

Rep. Jason Crow speaks during a virtual press event commemorating the anniversary of the Aurora theater shooting. (Screenshot via Zoom)

On the eve of the 10th anniversary of the Aurora movie theater shooting that claimed 12 lives and injured dozens more, Rep. Jason Crow said a recently passed firearm safety bill is only the start of what he wants to see done in Congress. 

“It will save lives, but it’s not the last step. It’s the first step, and there’s much more to be done,” the Aurora Democrat said during a Tuesday press conference, referring to the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act.

That legislation, passed in response to the Uvalde shooting in May, increases background checks for gun buyers under the age of 21, provides funding for states to implement red flag laws and provides funding for school security and mental health.

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Crow said that while the House of Representatives will likely pass an assault weapons ban soon, it will take the removal of the Senate filibuster to ever get that legislation to the president’s desk.

“I wouldn’t have taken a deer hunting rifle with me to Iraq or Afghanistan. And I wouldn’t have taken my assault weapon with me to go deer hunting, because they are different weapons designed to do different things,” Crow, a former Army ranger, said. “That is why the assault weapons ban absolutely needs to be reinstituted.”

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State Rep. Tom Sullivan, whose son was killed in the Aurora shooting, said he plans to bring forward legislation to raise the minimum age of purchase for assault weapons in Colorado from 18 to 21. The Centennial Democrat was not able to introduce that bill this past legislative session.

“I would suggest anybody hearing this to call your governor right now and let him know that when Senator Sullivan brings this forward next year to get behind it and vote with it,” Sullivan said. 

Along with Sullivan, Crow was joined by survivor Jenalise Long and Jayla Hemphill, who represents Colorado and Pennsylvania in the gun reform organization Students Demand Action.

Long recounted her last-minute decision to attend the premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises” at the Aurora Century movie theater on July 20, 2012. She noticed the shooter coming through the emergency exit dressed in tactical gear, and then the smell of tear gas, which she recognized from her Air Force basic training. She dropped on the floor in front of her fifth-row seat and made it out of the theater as she listened to gunfire. 

“These shootings happen because guns are in the wrong hands,” she said. 

She applauded the federal gun reform bill as evidence that lawmakers are working on the issue and said she hopes it will close the loopholes that make it “too easy” for an armed person to act on impulse.

“I have regained some sense of hope that there will be far fewer mass shootings due to this bill and that we will have more gun reform in the future,” she said. 

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Sara Wilson
Sara Wilson

Sara Wilson covers state government, Colorado's congressional delegation, energy and other stories for Newsline. She formerly was a reporter for The Pueblo Chieftain, where she covered politics and government in southern Colorado. Wilson earned a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University, and as a student she reported on Congress and other federal beats in Washington, D.C.

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