Back in 2013, in response to the Aurora theater shooting, the Colorado legislature approved new gun control measures for the first time in decades, including a ban on “large capacity” magazines and a universal background check requirement for all gun transfers. Since then, as Democrats have solidified their control of the state legislature, they’ve added additional gun control laws like a “red flag” law, but none of the gun control measures have been able to prevent a rise in violent crime every single year since those first gun control measures took effect.
Given the ineffectiveness of the gun control laws to make communities safer, it’d be wise for the Democrats running the statehouse to opt for a different approach in the wake of the Boulder grocery store shooting, but instead the Left is doubling down on their failed anti-gun policies. Flanked by gun control activists, Colorado Democrats on Thursday announced three new bills slated to be introduced in the coming days.
The first bill, to be sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Sen. Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, will lift the state law that forbids local governments from enacting stricter gun laws than state law, known as pre-emption. His district includes the south Boulder King Soopers where 10 people were killed in a mass shooting in March.
Ten days before the shooting, a Boulder judge had dismissed a city ordinance that would have banned assault weapons in Boulder, although the shooter at the King Soopers reportedly used the pistol version of a Ruger AR-556 rifle, along with a high-capacity magazine that is already illegal to possess under Colorado law.
The suspect in the Boulder shooting didn’t live in Boulder, didn’t buy his gun in Boulder, and wouldn’t have stayed away from Boulder if the gun ban had been in effect. Given the fact that he also used a magazine that’s illegal to possess in Colorado, it’s clear that he wasn’t too concerned about following the state’s gun control laws as he violated the murder statutes on the books.
Another bill would create a state level Office of Gun Violence Prevention, while the third would require the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to clear every commercial firearms transfer, even though these sales already go through the federal NICS system. It would also impose a five-year ban on gun purchases for those convicted of some violent misdemeanor offenses, like simple assault.
Republicans in the legislature sounded cool to the proposals on Thursday, arguing that the focus of lawmakers should be on mental health instead.
Both Senate GOP spokesman Sage Naumann and House Minority Leader Hugh McKean said their caucuses haven’t seen the text of the new bills, but they believe the focus should be on mental health.
“We will review any legislation with an open mind, but we, on principle do not believe punishing law-abiding Coloradans is the way to solve this problem,” Naumann said.
McKean, a Loveland Republican, said many of the ideas introduced are ineffective and unenforceable, and don’t address what he sees as the root cause of the problem: mental health problems. GOP Rep. Dan Woog of Erie added that those who want to commit a crime will find a way to get a gun regardless of such laws.
I’m somewhat surprised that Democrats didn’t announce a ban on modern sporting rifles as well, but they may be holding that back until the next legislative session. And of course, if the state scraps the firearms preemption law, then there’d be nothing stopping localities like Boulder from imposing their own local bans, no matter how ineffective or unconstitutional they might be. Those new bans would certainly be challenged in court, but only after they took effect.
Something tells me that these new laws aren’t going to stem the rising tide of violence in Colorado any more than the state’s magazine ban, universal background checks, and red flag laws have made the state a safer place. Still, anti-gun lawmakers get to say they’re doing “something” about the issue… even if it’s not something that works.