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Colorado gun control: Can state with pro-gun past enact new restrictions?

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Underscoring the importance of the Colorado outcome, Vice President Joe Biden has called some state lawmakers personally, while National Rifle Association head David Keene met privately with Governor Hickenlooper.  

“There’s a lot at stake, and it’s been an incredible battle,” says Floyd Ciruli, a Colorado pollster and political analyst. “There’s a sense among the proponents [of the bills] that what comes out of Colorado may then have some influence on Washington thinking, and could definitely go into other states.”

What had grown into a package of seven bills has now shrunk to five. The bills still being considered include the following:

• A universal background check bill that would close some loopholes, including for private sales. The bill has passed both houses, and headed back to the House for another vote after passing the state Senate on Monday.

• A bill limiting magazine capacity to 15 rounds. Opponents had hoped they might have won over enough Democrats to kill it, but the bill passed the Senate Monday by one vote. Two Republican lawmakers said they will disobey it if it becomes law.

• A bill to keep guns out of the hands of those convicted of domestic violence offenses or under protection orders.

• A bill requiring in-person, rather than online, training for concealed carry permits.

• A bill requiring gun purchasers to pay for their own background check.

The background-check and magazine-limit bills have been among the most controversial – and, say proponents, could have the most effect.

“I think clearly Colorado is sending a message to the rest of the nation,” says Tom Mauser, a gun-control advocate since 1999, when his son, Daniel, was killed in the Columbine shooting. “It’s traditionally been a pro-gun state. I think the message is that you can be pro-gun and respect gun rights and still say that you’ve got to have some limits on things.”

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