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Sen. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, speaking during the resolution joint session honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Friday, Jan. 13, 2023. 

Colorado’s epic crime wave literally hit home for a state lawmaker last week after an apparent drive-by shooting at her house in Aurora. As The Gazette reported, a bullet traveled through state Sen. Rhonda Fields’ window and china cabinet before lodging in her living room wall.

It could have been a lot worse had someone been home at the time. We are grateful and relieved no harm came to her — though of course the trauma of such a violent attack lingers.

“My faith in my security, of being, feeling safe at home, has been shattered,” Fields said.

Though many Coloradans need no reminder of the state’s spiraling crime rate, plenty of Fields’ colleagues in the legislature could use this wake-up call. For the past several years, her fellow Democrats in the majority have been watering down wide-ranging criminal penalties for violent and property crimes. On the fundamentally flawed premise that Colorado’s justice system is inherently racist and generally unjust, the legislature’s advocates for “justice reform” have made it ever harder to take repeat perpetrators of serious crimes off of Colorado’s streets.

Fields’ unnerving brush with potentially lethal violence comes as all the more of a blow given her family’s tragic history. In a well-known incident that shook our whole state, Fields’ own son and his fiancé were shot and killed in Aurora in 2005. Her son was targeted because he was preparing to testify against two men accused in a previous murder, according to authorities.

Fields is not one to back down, however, and she addressed the Aurora City Council at its regular meeting on Monday to raise awareness and call for action.

She urged council members to do what they can at the local level to address gun violence. As noted in The Gazette’s report, Fields also advocated for law enforcement to have the resources they need, and for teachers to be given adequate resources to deal with the trauma students face from exposure to gun violence.

Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman pledged the city will do all it can at the local level — but as The Gazette also reported, Coffman called out the legislature, as well.

Coffman said gun violence is “significant all over the Denver metropolitan area,” and he pointed out local governments can only do so much. He commended Fields’ work at the Capitol in helping to address the concern, but said he wants her colleagues to do more. 

Coffman said he is frustrated by a state legislature that has spent years creating an environment that is too lenient on criminals. Lowering the penalty for various crimes from a felony to a misdemeanor, for example, allowed more people to legally own firearms who should not, the mayor said.

Coffman also wants all car thefts to be charged as a felony, regardless of the vehicle’s monetary value — as proposed in a measure now pending before the legislature. Stolen cars are often used in the commission of more violent crimes, Coffman correctly pointed out, and he said he opposes allowing someone convicted of felony auto theft to possess a weapon.

Coffman joined Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers in a joint letter published in the media in January calling on the legislature to crack down on crime.

The Colorado General Assembly’s experiment with coddling criminals is a disaster. That should be obvious by now even to the lawmakers themselves.

It’s sad it took one of their own peers getting caught in harm’s way to make it plain as day.

Denver Gazette Editorial Board

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