Colorado House Passes Package of Gun Control Bills

On Feb. 18, Colorado lawmakers approved several gun control measures that include a ban on concealed carry at college campuses, a limit to magazine capacity, a mandate for universal background checks and a background check fee for all gun sales.

All the measures passed by a relatively slim margin and came after intense debate on the House floor.

House Bill 1229, the universal background check bill, would require background checks on all gun purchases, even those transactions made between private buyers and sellers.

There is an exception for immediate family, which has been defined exclusively as spouses, children, siblings, grandparents and grandchildren.  Clearly omitted, as the Denver Post reported, are in-laws, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins.

HB 1229 passed a vote of 36-29, with all but one Democrat supporting it.

House Bill 1228, which would require gun buyers to pay a background check fee between $5 and $12 for each purchase, passed by the narrowest of margins: 33-32.

Critics of the HB 1228 argued that it’s nothing more than a money-making scheme targeting law-abiding gun owners.

“This bill has absolutely nothing, zero, to do with public safety,” Rep. Brian DelGrosso (R-Loveland) told the Denver Post.

“This bill is taking advantage of a tragedy that’s out there to demonize law-abiding citizens who are exercising their Second Amendment rights and using it as a way to generate $4 million to $5 million in increased taxes on these people.”

Meanwhile, proponents contend that the fee is nothing new, but a renewal of a similar state fee that expired in 1999 because it surpassed the revenue limits under Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

House Bill 1226 would finally put an end to the ongoing debate about campus carry in the Centennial State.  By a vote of 34-31, the House would ban concealed carry on college campuses.

“There are a lot of students who simply are not ready to be in the presence of firearms,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Claire Levy (D-Boulder). “It’s a dangerous mix.”

Clearly, that’s at odds with what many gun owners and pro-Second Amendment politicians believe about ‘gun-free’ zones, personal safety and the right to keep and bear arms for self-defense outside the home.

As Rep. Lois Landgraf said, “A rapist entering a women’s dorm will not be stopped by a whistle or a call box.”

Finally, House Bill 1224 would put limits on magazine capacity: eight rounds for shotguns and 15 rounds for all other firearms.

This measure passed by 34-31, with three democrats voting against it.

As reported on Sunday, the passage of HB 1224 would have major repercussions for the Colorado-based magazine manufacturer Magpul, which has vowed to relocate if HB 1224 is signed into law.

Colorado Senate Composition

Colorado Senate Composition

While HB 1224 includes an amendment that would allow for Magpul to continue to produce ‘larger-round’ magazines for out-of-state sale, the CEO has said that they “could not, in good conscience, continue to manufacture our products in a state where law-abiding citizens are prohibited from purchasing and owning them.”

House Minority Leader Mark Waller (R-Colorado Springs), who voted against the measure, also picked up on this vexing inconsistency in a policy that is supposed to “save lives.”

“Apparently, they (high-capacity magazines) are not instruments of destruction when they’re purchased outside the borders of Colorado,” Waller said.

All four of these measures will now head to the Democratic-controlled Senate for consideration (see chart).  Given the Senate’s composition, there a decent chance that all these measures become law.

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