Colorado Gun Laws Unable to Stop Spike in Denver, Pueblo Homicides

Pueblo Police Department via AP

Colorado Democrats have put their gun control efforts into overdrive this year, but the fact is that the state has seen a steady erosion of Second Amendment rights for over a decade. After the Aurora theater murders in 2012, legislators approved bans on "large capacity" magazines and imposed universal background checks, and since then they've tacked on several other new gun laws including a "red flag" statute and repeal of the state's preemption statute. 

Despite (or maybe because of) all the new restrictions on lawful gun owners, crime has soared across the state over the past decade. Though several cities reported modest decreases in 2023, the numbers are once again heading in the wrong direction in many locales. Denver homicides are up almost 20 percent compared to this time last year. Through March 31st, Aurora's homicide rate is 47 percent higher than it was in 2023, while Pueblo officials have announced new efforts to crack down on violent crime with homicides there up an incredible 86 percent compared to last year. 

City officials and the FBI held a press conference Tuesday to draw attention to rising crime and homicides in Pueblo.

During the Tuesday morning conference, the FBI announced a major joint summer operation to counter gangs in Pueblo, while city officials discussed local efforts to counter gang and gun violence.

Mayor Heather Graham expressed concern about rising crime in Pueblo and called on parents to keep tabs on their children and teenagers.

"As a citizen of Pueblo myself, I too am frustrated by the gun violence and the overall crime rate in our city," she said. "And I want to be part of the solution to improve the quality of life for all Puebloans."

Both Graham and the city's police chief have acknowledged staffing issues with the Pueblo PD, but Police Chief Chris Noeller also criticized the state legislature for taking a soft-on-crime approach in recent years. 

He noted challenges from the state legislature have impacted the department's ability to reduce crime in Pueblo. Noeller particularly cited House Bill 22-1131, otherwise known as the "Raise the Floor Act," which raised the minimum age that juveniles can be prosecuted criminally from 10 to 12 except in homicide cases.

Noeller also noted a lack of capacity for juvenile offenders at Pueblo Youth Corrections, with only nine beds available to house juveniles who commit violent offenses. Noeller stated that very often, juvenile and gang crime are one and the same, with many recent violent juvenile offenses connected to gang activity.

In other words, it's not folks with concealed carry permits who are responsible for all the mayhem. We're talking about kids who aren't even old enough to legally possess a firearm. They're not going to be impacted in the slightest by things like universal background checks or red flag laws, much less the liability insurance mandates, concealed carry restrictions, and gun bans that have been proposed by Democrats in the state capitol this year. 

Overall, juvenile crime has declined across the state since 2010, but violent crimes have been on the rise, including an incredible and awful 210 percent increase in juveniles accused of homicide. This should be the top public safety priority of lawmakers, but Democrats have been loathe to take any steps that would lead to young offenders being placed behind bars. The result? A chronic shortage of space in juvenile detention facilities, and the swift release for those accused of serious offenses, including attempted murder

The mother of an 11-year-old Colorado Springs boy stabbed in the back and left for dead is questioning why her son’s alleged 13-year-old attacker was allowed out on the streets to cross paths with her son -- despite previous attempted murder charges for another alleged stabbing attack.

Our 11 News investigation team has tracked this case for months now, after Colorado Springs police originally arrested the wrong 10-year-old boy. Now, our exclusive reporting continues with another mother’s frustrations over the juvenile justice system in this state, a system she says has so far failed to protect her family.

“I could not wrap my mind around something that horrible happening.”

This is what happens when the dominant political party believes that the legal consequences for committing a crime are worse than the crime itself. Colorado's 12-year experiment in infringing on the Second Amendment rights of residents and visitors has done nothing to make the state a safer place, and the kid-glove treatment that criminals receive from the Democratic majority in the legislature is only making it worse. The courts may very well step in and strike down some or all of the abusive gun control laws that have been adopted since 2012, but ultimately it's the voters who are going to have to step up and vote out those lawmakers who are turning a blind eye towards violent criminals and choosing instead to focus their attention on lawful gun owners.