Colorado has turned into ground zero in the fight to change America's gun culture, as the state lawmakers here are passing gun-safety bills similar to the ones under consideration by Democrats in Washington.
Democratic lawmakers in Colorado are in the home stretch of passing a set of gun safety bills, including a measure to require background checks on all private gun purchases and another proposed law limiting ammunition cartridges to 15 rounds.
This new legislation wouldn't take a single gun away from a real-life law-abiding person.
Yet, by the reaction of some elected Repbublicans, you'd think the government was on the verge of confiscating every firearm in Colorado -- where a mass shooting in a movie theater last summer ignited a debate about gun laws that was fueled further by the Sandy Hook massacre.
During one debate at the Colorado Capitol, for example, a state legislator compared banning some ammunition magazines to putting Japanese-Americans in internment camps during WWII.
State Rep. Kevin Priola, a Republican, equated the "freedom" you lose when a wave of bigotry lands you in jail to the "freedom" lost when concerns about gun safety spawn legislation banning large-capacity magazines.
Forget the fact that Priola would still have his small-capacity magazines plus his guns, not to mention his actual freedom.
At at Denver University debate in January, State Sen. Randy Baumgardner tried to push the misinformation that "hammers and bats" killed more people in America last year than guns did, even though a thinking person would require only a minute to know that's false. (See video at 24:23.)
Another Colorado lawmaker, Rep. Kevin Lundberg, said on the radio that in Colorado, it's getting "so close" to the point where he'll be having his gun pried away from his "cold, dead hands."
Gun proponents even flew a plane over the state Capitol with a banner carrying a message for Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper: "Hick, do not take our guns."
Again, taking guns away isn't on the table at the Colorado Capitol, and that's what Hickenlooper told Denver's local NBC-TV affiliate: "'There's a plane flying around that's saying, 'Hick, don't take our guns.' Well, here's the answer: we're not taking any guns,' said the governor."
Rather than leave it there, with rhetoric flying that Colorado's gun-safety legislation is intended to take guns away from citizens, local NBC-TV news reporter Brandon Rittiman added a factual clarification that most reporters covering the gun debate in Colorado did not include in their coverage: He added the simple phrase that "nobody would have to give up a gun they currently own under the proposals."
This is the kind of reporting we need when gun safety legislation hits Congress.
If Colorado's gun bills turn out to be a model, as expected, for federal legislation, then we'll see not only the expected extremism from gun-safety fringe groups in Washington, D.C., but also from elected Republicans in Congress.
They'll claim that any gun-safety measure is about confiscating guns from law-abiding citizens.
If so, let's hope reporters counter the wild rhetoric of gun proponents, especially if they are elected officials, with the facts about what gun-safety bills would actually do.
A version of this post was first distributed via OtherWords (OtherWords.org).