Colorado passes gun curbs
on 12/03/2013 07:26:46
The Colorado package is being watched nationally to see how a politically moderate state with a gun-loving past responds to the recent mass shootings in suburban Denver and in Connecticut.
One Democrat after another rose last night to talk about restricting gun rights after last July's shooting at a cinema in Aurora. The vote came on the eve of an expected plea by the alleged gunman, James Holmes, who is accused of killing 12 people and injuring dozens more.
The measures approved by the senate included a limit on the kinds of high-capacity ammunition magazines Holmes is accused of using in the theatre shooting. Other measures included expanded background checks on private gun sales and a new ban on gun ownership for people facing domestic violence charges.
On the national level, President Barack Obama has proposed expanded background checks for gun purchases and a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines in response to the December mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, that killed 20 children and six adults. The measures are now being considered in the US Senate.
Republicans argued in vain that the gun controls would not have prevented the cinema shooting or the Connecticut school massacre. Some cited the 1999 Columbine High School shootings outside Denver.
But Democrats stood firm. "We can't get back the kids we lost, but can refuse to send them more," Senator Mike Johnston said.
Only one of the five bills heads to Democratic governor John Hickenlooper to be signed into law. The remaining four must return to the state house of representatives for more debate, including the ammunition magazine limit and the domestic violence bill. The lower house is under Democratic control and will probably approve the measures.
Mr Hickenlooper has said he supports the one bill awaiting his signature, a revived fee for people seeking background checks by gun buyers. He has also called for expanded background checks and has said he will sign the magazine limit if politicians get it to him.
Republicans argued longest against the magazine ammunition limit.
"It's not going to work, and I hate to say that," said Senator Mark Scheffel. "What it will do is infringe on the rights of law-abiding citizens."
But Republicans succeeded only in picking off two of the three Democratic defectors they needed to defeat the ammunition limit. They warned that the gun controls were feel-good measures that would not make Colorado safer.
"Which of these bills we've voted on today would have prevented these tragedies?" said Republican senator Owen Hill.
Democrats insisted that politicians had no excuse after the recent mass shootings not to tighten gun restrictions.
"If we fail to do a common sense measure…then shame on us," said senate Democratic leader Morgan Carroll, whose district includes the Aurora cinema.
Democratic senate president John Morse said he was proud that his caucus was promoting measures to reduce gun violence.
"We will make a difference and increase gun safety in Colorado and decrease gun violence," he said.
The remaining gun bill headed to the house requires increased training for a concealed-weapons permit, which has had support from both parties.