DENVER– The Senate will vote Monday on the final passage of five gun-control bills – If passed, three will soon arrive on the desk of Governor John Hickenlooper to be signed into law.
Hickenlooper has already indicated his support for universal background gun checks, fees or taxes for background checks, and ammunition magazine limits.
Bills regarding limitations to online concealed carry permit training and weapon restrictions in domestic violence cases, if approved in the Senate, would go to the House for consideration. At the end of nearly 13 hours of debate Friday, two other gun-control measures were withdrawn.
Senate Bill 196 to make weapon sellers and manufacturers liable for negligence and House Bill 1226 to ban concealed carry weapons on college campuses were pulled by sponsors Senate President John Morse and state Sen. Rollie Heath, respectively.
Withdrawing those two bills is “a victory for common sense and liberty across Colorado,” declared Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman (R-Colorado Springs).
Before shelving the HB 1226, Heath railed, “Some say this bill will create rape havens. Men should never feel any time or place is a rape haven. The fact that (the bill) has been massaged to say that it allows rape on our campuses is reprehensible.”
“We heard from young women who had tragic situations on campus where they felt a gun was needed for self defense,” said Heath. “And (from) those who experienced that same trauma at the hands of a concealed carry gun owner.”
Salazar said women might think they’re going to be raped or attacked when they’re not – and then mistakenly shoot a round at someone.
Testifying against the bill before a Senate committee last week, Amanda Collins recalled being defenseless against a violent rapist who put a pistol to her head on a college campus. Collins had a permit to carry a concealed weapon, but she had left it at home to obey the “gun free” campus law.
Hudak told Collins that statistics show the attacker would have seized the young woman’s gun and possibly have killed her. Later, Hudak’s data was proven to be groundless.
Drowning in a whirlpool of bad national press, Democrat leadership reportedly lobbied Heath to withdraw the bill.
Added to that Democrat state Sens. Lois Tochtrop of Thornton, Cheri Jahn of Wheat Ridge and Angela Giron of Pueblo- intimated they opposed the bill. Three Democrat votes would have been the magic bullet for Republicans to kill the bill.
The bill’s sponsors, Heath and state Rep. Claire Levy, both Boulder Democrats, claimed college campuses are safe, but also that guns should not be in the hands of students because of the high suicide rate, drunken binges and resulting fights.
The bill’s opponents argued against disarming women against attackers. They noted that conceal carry permits are only issued to those age 21 and older, and after they’ve completed training and a background check.
Heath said he plans to work with both Republicans and Democrats to reintroduce the bill next year to incorporate concerns about suicides and sexual assaults.
“This was a victory for public safety and the rights of law abiding citizens,” said Cadman. “Criminals do not respect gun free zones and this bill would have only worked against public safety.”
Cadman also lauded the demise of SB 196, a “radical bill (that) tried to hold law-abiding gun makers, sellers and users responsible for the illegal acts of others.”
Morse yanked the bill, but not without complaining bitterly about the clout of gun rights backers.
“During the last three months we’ve experienced hatred and vitriol that I haven’t seen since I was on the street as a police officer,” asserted Morse. “It’s included wishing rape, torture and death on legislators and their families.”
“They’ve argued that the mental health system is broken and needs to be fixed, but they’ve not introduced a single piece of legislation either here or across the country,” he said.
Actually, when Morse announced his package of gun-control bills last month he said there would be a measure to address mental health issues such as stricter reporting requirements and upgrading the database of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
The Democrats have yet to introduce the mental health bill.
In defense of SB 196, Morse said, “Gun dealers and manufacturers are immune from liability even when they’re negligent… This immunity is a direct result of a powerful lobbying effort that ironically is subsidized by our own government and taxpayers through the military and police.”
Morse said that the passage of the remaining five gun-control laws will “save lives… stop bullets from piercing children’s bodies… stop criminals from getting guns… stop domestic abusers from killing their partners… stop massacres.”
“The fact is that these types of firearms are enjoyed by responsible, law-abiding gun owners across Colorado and this backdoor attempt to ban them would do nothing to improve public safety,” said state Sen. Mark Scheffel (R-Parker).
Bills slated for a final vote in the Senate include:
House Bill 1224 limits gun ammunition magazines to 15 rounds. Democrats say the bill will prevent mass killings such as theAuroratheater shooting in July. Republicans argue the bill will negatively impact the state’s economy through loss of businesses, jobs and tourism.
House Bill 1228 requires gun buyers to pay a fee for background checks by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Democrats believe it’s a fee for service. Republicans argue it’s like a poll tax and is unconstitutional, and the fees could skyrocket to deter Coloradans from purchasing guns.
House Bill 1229 requires a background check by the CBI for all weapon purchases. Proponents argue this will deny guns to people with criminal and mental illness histories. Opponents said it creates a new source of state revenue, doubles CBI background employees, will lead to a gun registry and will not solve the problem of gun violence.
Senate Bill 195 requires certified hands-on training for concealed carry permits, but allows limited online courses that cover basic issues and laws. The bill received bi-partisan support Friday, and is expected to pass the Senate and move to the House for consideration.
Senate Bill 197 instructs judges on the removal of weapons in domestic violence cases and protection orders. Proponents argue the bill will save lives. Opponents say it usurps the power of judges to use discretion and it puts victims at greater risk of being shot or killed. If passed by the Senate, the bill moves to the House.