OVER-CRIMINALIZATION: Just Firing a Gun to Be a Crime Now?

It would be if Democratic freshman Representative Tom Foote from Boulder had his way.  His new bill, HB1043, would change the language of current Colorado state law to say that firing a firearm is use of a deadly weapon no matter what the intent.

Ahhh, to be a freshman legislator and so blissfully unaware of unintended consequences.  Foote says that the language change is necessary because it forces prosecutors to prove that a criminal had the intention of using a gun as a deadly weapon.  But, Republican legislator from Wray, Greg Brophy, expressed concern that the way the bill currently reads is that just firing a gun would be use of a deadly weapon.  The example that Brophy offered the Denver Post:

“[Brophy] said people who are firing at a nearby gun range could be breaking the law if neighbors complain.

‘If you’re firing a gun that scares somebody and you don’t even know they’re around, that could be menacing,’ Brophy said. ‘I just don’t think he (Foote) understands the secondary stage consequences of changing this definition.’”

Unfortunately, intent is a key element in any criminal trial, and if it is too much trouble for prosecutors to also prove intent in crimes, then there might be a larger problem with the case.

Remember when swinging at pitches in batting cages also meant brandishing a deadly weapon?  Yeah, we don’t either.  Democratic legislators would do well to bench this ridiculous legislation.

 
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