Colorado took a major step…toward enacting some of the toughest new gun measures that have been introduced since the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut touched off a national debate about gun control.
After more than 12 hours of emotional and bitterly divided debate, the Democratic-controlled State Senate gave preliminary approval to a package of gun bills. At its heart are measures that would require universal background checks for private gun sales and limit ammunition magazines to 15 rounds.
Other measures would create a fee for background checks; require those convicted of domestic abuse to surrender their firearms; and require residents applying for permits to carry concealed weapons to take in-person training classes, outlawing the handful of online-only courses now offered in the state.
If the bills win final approval…they would be Colorado’s first new firearms restrictions in more than a decade. Their passage in a state with a deep history and culture of hunting, sport shooting and gun ownership would also represent a significant victory for gun control advocates.
To Democrats, who now control both chambers of the Statehouse as well as the governor’s office, the measures are moderate solutions intended to stem a tide of gun violence and mass shootings, like the massacres at Columbine High School in 1999 and at an Aurora movie theater in July. Some Democrats spoke of being gun owners and hunters and said the new restrictions would not ban weapons or amount to the “gun grab” opponents warn of.
Unlike lawmakers in New York, Democrats here did not pursue a ban on assault-style rifles. And on Friday, they withdrew two bills that faced wavering support from fellow Democrats and unified opposition from Republicans. Those would have banned concealed weapons from college campuses and would have made some gun makers and dealers liable for deaths and injuries involving their firearms.
Colorado holds a leading position in Western politics. Local and state elections, congressional and presidential elections move to the Left and Right ahead of generalized sentiments in the region. The religious right – intolerant of most politics this side of the 19th Century – are as strong in Colorado as in Arizona but state legislators aren’t always as craven. More willing to act independently of both backwards locals and floundering national politicians in Washington.