Massacre-hardened Colorado a gun control test case
Assam shot him with her 9 mm Beretta. An autopsy found he shot himself.
By then, Democrats had won back control of the statehouse and governor’s mansion. They did not pursue new gun control initiatives. A lot of Coloradans thought, ‘‘well, we've taken care of that,’’ gun control activist Ted Pascoe said.
And then, early on July 20, state Rep. Rhonda Fields was called by a constituent who worked near the Century Aurora 16 movie theater. The caller said there was a new massacre in her district — 12 people dead at a midnight screening of ‘‘The Dark Knight Returns.’’
Fields had joined the Legislature after her son, Javad Marshall-Fields, and his fiance were shot to death in 2005 to stop him from testifying at a murder trial.
Long a lonely voice for gun restrictions at the capitol, Fields was shocked that, even after the Aurora shooting, few joined her. Hickenlooper said he didn’t know if restrictions on guns would have stopped the massacre.
‘‘It does surprise me, and it saddens me as well,’’ Fields said. ‘‘I'm sick and tired of this. I think enough is enough.’’
Four months later, Obama won Colorado by more than five points and Democrats recaptured the lower house of the Legislature. On Dec. 12, Hickenlooper said enough time had passed since Aurora that he'd now be open to discussing gun control measures.
Two days later, 24-year-old Adam Lanza went on his rampage, killing his mother and then killing 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
On Dec. 22, Fields and Aurora’s state senator held an emotional news conference at the state capitol, flanked by tearful survivors of the theater shooting.
Theresa Hoover, whose 18-year-old son AJ Boik was among those killed, urged lawmakers to limit guns. She said it was a conversation Colorado ‘‘should've started years ago, and it’s shame on us for letting it get this far.’’
If the state had done something earlier, Hoover said, sobbing, ‘‘You guys wouldn’t even know who I was. And I would rather have it be that way.’’
Follow Nicholas Riccardi at http://www.twitter.com/nickriccardi and Ivan Moreno at http://www.twitter.com/ivanjourno . Associated Press writer Dan Elliott also contributed to this report.