On Monday, the Democrat-controlled Senate committees reviewing seven gun control measures approved each one along a party-line vote of 3-2, despite the hundreds of gun-rights activists who showed up at the Capitol to voice their displeasure with the proposed changes to the state’s gun laws.
The consideration of these new gun laws comes in the wake of the mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, which together reignited the national debate over gun control.
Local Colorado news affiliate KUSA-TV broke down the seven proposals:
– BACKGROUND CHECKS: House Bill 1229 would add a background-check requirement for many guns sold in private transactions. It passed a Senate committee in a 3-2 party-line vote. The Democratic-sponsored bill has already cleared the House.
– MAGAZINE LIMITS: House Bill 1224 limits gun ammunition magazines to 15 rounds. The Democratic-sponsored bill has cleared the House, and passed Senate Judiciary on a 3-2 party line vote.
– FIREARM BAN FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE OFFENDERS: Senate Bill 197 would expand a ban on gun ownership for people convicted of certain domestic-violence offenses. The bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on a party-line 3-2 vote Monday. One more committee vote awaits before the full Senate considers it.
– GUN LIABILITY: Senate Bill 196 adds legal liability for gun sellers and owners. The bill faced its first test Monday.
– GUNS ON CAMPUS: House Bill 1226 would end Colorado’s unusual law barring public college campuses from banning concealed weapons. The Democratic-sponsored bill has already cleared the House.
– ONLINE GUN TRAINING: Senate Bill 195 would require people seeking concealed carry permits to take gun training courses in person. The bill faced its first legislative review Monday.
– BACKGROUND CHECK FEES: House Bill 1228 would revive fees for gun purchasers who need background checks. It passed a Senate committee in a 3-2 party-line vote. The Democratic-sponsored bill has already cleared the House.
Each bill will now head to the Senate floor for full consideration, which could be as soon as this Friday. As noted above, four of the bills have already been approved by the House and if passed by the Senate would land on Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper’s desk in the coming weeks.
“I think they’ll all pass. I really do,” Democratic Senate President John Morse told the Associated Press. “And I think they all should pass. I think any of them failing doesn’t make Colorado as safe as we could make Colorado.”
With 20 Democrats in the Senate and only 15 Republicans, Morse’s assessment about the likelihood of each bill passing seems quite accurate. Republicans would need to steal three votes from Democrats in order to stop any of the bills from advancing.
At the committee hearings, there was compelling testimony from both sides. Retired astronaut Mark Kelly was there to support the legislative push for UBCs and the ban on ‘high’-capacity magazines.
Kelly spoke about his wife, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who was shot in the head at a political gathering near Tucson, Arizona, in 2011. The gunman had used a Glock with an extended magazine during the attack.
“Gabby’s gift for speech is a distant memory,” Kelly told the Judiciary committee. “She struggles to walk and is partially blind.”
Speaking up for gun rights was Adam Thompson, a survivor of the mass shooting at Columbine High School in 1999.
“I struggled 12 years dealing with survivor guilt and that I was put in a position where I was defenseless and so were the people around me that were supposed to keep me safe,” he said. “I never want to be defenseless again … I have become a firearms owner.”
EDIT TO ADD: Here is a direct link to the contact info for the Colorado Senate. Coloradans, if you haven’t already, now might be a good time to start calling/emailing/writing, etc. your senator.