Sen. Cory Gardner and Rep. Mike Coffman lead a new legislative crusade to reduce or eliminate the senseless killing of law enforcement officers.

The lifestyles Americans enjoy depend entirely on civility, rule of law, public order, and the strength to uphold them. These factors distinguish the United States from cultures that base social order on race, religion, gender, wealth, and who has the biggest weapon and a sinister will to use it for personal gain.

Just as the military protects us from foreign aggression, law enforcement officers — working for cities, counties, states and a variety of government agencies — uphold the rules of civility defined in the Bill of Rights and the rest of the Constitution. On that foundation rest all other laws enacted to create a fair and just playing field in which anyone may enjoy life, liberty and pursuits of happiness.

Civility and the American way of life take a hit each time a criminal suspect murders a police officer.

The dreaded radio call “officer down” has been too common in Colorado and throughout the country. Our state began the year with the ambush killing of Douglas County Sheriff’s Deputy Zackari Parrish on Dec. 31. A suspect shot and killed Adams County Sheriff’s Deputy Heath Gumm less than a month later, on Jan. 24. Another suspect shot and killed El Paso County Deputy Micah Flick just 12 days later, on Feb. 5 in Colorado Springs.

We can only imagine the stress and anxiety endured by any living officer’s spouse and children during routine shifts.

The public should support all reasonable efforts to make first responders less vulnerable to those with so little respect for law they will murder anyone trying to uphold it.

The bills offered by Colorado Republicans Gardner and Coffman would help provide every law enforcement officer in the country with armor sufficient to protect against shots from high-powered rifles. Lower-grade vests, commonly worn, protect only from bullets fired from handguns with considerably less velocity than the rifles often used in massacres and shootings of officers.

Gardner’s bill instructs the Boulder-based National Institute of Standards and Technology to research the full capabilities of a variety of advanced armor options. Governments would use the information to determine which products would provide officers the most protection.

“Our law enforcement officers put their lives on the line every day to protect and serve our communities,” Gardner said in a statement. “They are always there to help others and deserve nothing less than our gratitude and thanks. Unfortunately, Colorado and departments across the country have seen too many officer-involved deaths and we must do more to protect those who protect us. Our officers should not be put in harm’s way without the absolute best equipment and that is why I am introducing legislation, which will make it easier for every officer in the country to purchase body armor that can withstand rifle bullets.”

The bill has a long way to go before becoming law, and will likely change forms in committees. The public should support putting a version on the president’s desk that ensures no law enforcement officers lose their lives because taxpayers skimped on equipment.

Our lives, our incomes, our homes, our families, and all else we value depend on the men and women who uphold the law and defend our lives. Let’s support Gardner and Coffman in placing the safety of first responders among our highest priorities.

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