MAYORS COFFMAN, SUTHERS and HANCOCK: Addressing ghost guns, weapons charges and detention shortages are common sense

A 9mm pistol build kit with a commercial slide and barrel with a polymer frame is displayed before President Joe Biden and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco speak in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Monday, April 11, 2022, to announces a final version of its ghost gun rule, which comes with the White House and the Justice Department under growing pressure to crack down on gun deaths.. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

 

Crime remains a serious issue in Colorado and we, as mayors of Colorado’s three largest cities, are committed to working with the state legislature and Governor on this issue in the upcoming legislative session. Here are some commonsense bipartisan suggestions.

Update the penalties for motor vehicle theft and help the police solve a greater number of cases.

Colorado currently is in the unenviable position of having the highest car theft rate in the country. Stolen cars are often used in the commission of other serious offenses, including robberies, burglaries, and drug dealing. Colorado statutes predicate the level of the offense based on aggravating factors and the value of the stolen car. As a result, stealing a car worth less than $2,000 is often a misdemeanor, regardless of how devastating and costly the theft is to the owner. This value-based approach is inequitable and unfair to victims who own older or less expensive cars. All car thefts, other than joy riding, should be felonies.

We also need to substantially improve the solution rate for car theft. One effective way to do that is the use of technology, like license plate readers. Such technology identifies stolen cars and helps police apprehend the thieves. State assistance to help communities purchase such technology would be a great help.

Reinstate the crime of possession of a weapon by a previous offender for car thieves and drug dealers.

We should be deterring unlawful weapon possession by prior felons. Someone convicted of felony car theft or drug dealing can’t legally pass a background check, so they should be sanctioned for possessing a weapon. Further, all possession of a weapon by previous offender crimes should be a class four felony.

Deter the use of ghost guns and personally manufactured weapons that are untraceable.

We are seeing a rise in the use of ghost guns in violent cases. Despite some stricter local regulations, Colorado’s state laws do not address the problem of people circumventing background checks by purchasing non-serialized firearms or unassembled parts. Currently, these guns can be obtained by those under restraining orders or even extreme risk protection orders. Our state laws should eliminate these gaps and provide a helpful backdrop for stricter local laws.

Raise the cap for juvenile detention beds in Colorado.

Detention beds for juveniles have been drastically reduced since 2003 (when there were 479). There are now only 215 detention beds for juveniles in the entire state. The result is that juveniles who commit violent offenses or who are a danger to themselves are often discharged into an unsafe situation that seriously jeopardizes their safety and public safety. The bed cap should be raised to at least 350 and the standard for detention should give judges more discretion to hold juveniles who pose a serious public safety risk, particularly those with repeat offenses.

These are just a few ideas. There are other issues that should also be addressed, and we look forward to working with our state counterparts to address Colorado’s crime rates in a meaningful way.

Mike Coffman, Mayor of Aurora

Michael Hancock, Mayor of Denver

John Suthers, Mayor of Colorado Springs

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Don Black
Don Black
14 days ago

Challenge the police reform bill that is seriously flawed and has affected the ability of law enforcement to do the job. Quit ignoring the most important issue in dealing with crime. Quit being afraid of the race industry pushing such radical measures.

Jeff Ryan
Jeff Ryan
14 days ago
Reply to  Don Black

How much carnage is enough for you?

Good Citizen
Good Citizen
13 days ago
Reply to  Don Black

“Welfare Don” speaks his mind. It’s like asking someone begging on the street to give you their opinion on the latest economic news.

Jeff Brown
Jeff Brown
14 days ago

I agree with 99% of this letter and only question whether 350 juvenile beds are enough with the obvious spike in legitimate need.