Yesterday, we spoke with Representative Rhonda Fields about the THC driving bill she's co-sponsoring; the measure received a favorable report from the House Appropriations Committee and should reach the floor this week.
But during our conversation, we also touched on several other topics, including moves to boycott Colorado over gun laws she supported, charges against a man accused of harassing her, and the Denver visit of President Barack Obama tomorrow.
As we've reported, Fields, whose son, Javad Marshall-Fields, and his fiancee, Vivian Wolfe, were murdered in 2005 by Sir Mario Owens, currently on death row, was a driving force behind gun-control laws introduced this legislative session.
"People are sick and tired of the bloodshed," she told us in January. "I really praise the president for taking a stand on gun violence.... It's a huge validation, and it causes me to be very optimistic. I might have a good chance of passing legislation."
She was right: Governor John Hickenlooper signed several measures into law on March 20. But in the run-up to this action, Fields became a target of attacks, including e-mails and phone calls from Franklin Sain, who paired racist and sexist language with a reference to the shooting of Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
Sain was subsequently charged with attempting to influence a public servant and harassment involving ethnic intimidation, a felony and a misdemeanor, respectively. Afterward, Sain's attorney argued that his e-mails were protected free speech, and other critics wondered if criminal charges were appropriate. But Fields has no doubts.
"I'm extremely proud and pleased with the work of the Denver Police Department and the Colorado State Patrol" on the case, Fields says. "They were able to ID the person, and he was brought up on charges -- and they wouldn't have done that if they hadn't considered these serious, legitimate threats."
Since then, however, "the e-mail traffic from pro-gun folks that had dominated the Capitol has subsided," Fields reveals. "We're not seeing that type of effort regarding the topic. It's quieted down a lot, and that's allowed us at the Statehouse to move on to other measures, like school finances."
That's not to say those who dislike the legislation have changed their minds. As Patricia Calhoun reported yesterday, a Boycott Colorado movement has popped up, with angry hunters advising others like them to spend their hard-earned money elsewhere.
Such efforts seem off-base to Fields, who believes the legislation will actually encourage more people to visit Colorado.
Rhonda Fields flanked by Governor John Hickenlooper and Lieutenant Governor Joe Garcia.
"We should be doing everything we can to promote our state," she says, "and I think what we've done gives the impression that Colorado is a safe place to be. We've passed common-sense regulations that relate to gun control -- and none of the legislation interferes with people who hunt and fish in Colorado. We welcome hunters and fishers who want to come to Colorado, and they should. It's a beautiful state."
Thus far, she adds, "I haven't seen any negative impact" from a boycott. "As far as I've been told, we still have waiting lists for people who want to participate in some of the outdoor activities we have in the State of Colorado, and we haven't seen any drop in tourism -- no trend of any negative impact due to the passage."
In contrast, she says, the feedback she's gotten in Colorado and beyond about the firearms legislation has been "overwhelmingly positive. Everywhere I go, and I'm out in the community a lot, I get a lot of positive support about what the leadership of the state has ushered in as it relates to gun safety."
President Obama has certainly noticed what's been happening in Colorado on the gun-control front -- hence his visit to Denver tomorrow, with an appearance at the Denver Police Academy scheduled at around 2:30 p.m. according to this post from the NRA encouraging members to oppose his "anti-gun agenda."
Will Fields be there? As of yesterday afternoon, she hadn't received word -- but, she says, "I'm hoping to be on the list of legislators and elected officials" who'll be on hand.
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More from our Politics archive circa January: "Gun bill to require background checks: 'Enough is enough,' says Rhonda Fields."