Colorado's proposed "assault weapons" ban struggling to find support

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

It’s a near certainty that the Democratic majority in Colorado’s state legislature is going to approve some gun control bills this year, none of which are likely to make the state a safer place. The imposition of “universal” background checks, red-flag laws, and a ban on “large capacity” magazines hasn’t stopped violent crime from steadily rising over the past ten years; not surprising given that legal gun owners aren’t the primary drivers of crime in the first place.


What is throwing more cold watersurprising is the troubles that a proposed ban on so-called assault weapons has seen in the state. A draft version of the bill that was leaked weeks ago finally emerged from the shadows last Friday afternoon; quietly introduced without fanfare or the vocal support of Colorado Gov. Jared Polis. Now Democratic leaders in the state Senate are on the proposed ban, even as they tout their support for a number of other infringements on the right to keep and bear arms.

While they didn’t offer an official position on how they would vote, Senate President Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, and Senate Majority Leader Dominick Moreno, D-Adams County, noted just how contentious the last time legislators tackled similar proposals.

Fenberg hinted the “hesitation” toward the “assault weapons,” and how some people, even if supportive of the idea, view it as a potential distraction.

Fenberg said there is a lot of “hesitation” on the bill within the Senate. It’s not that people don’t support the concept, but they don’t feel it’s the right policy at the right time, he said, adding it could also serve as a distraction and not the most effective way to save lives.

“These other bills have gone through a very strenuous process” and will continue to be amended as they move through the legislature, he said. People are thinking hard about what’s the right policy, what’s defensible and can be enforced, and what will be effective, he added.

On the other hand, the discussion around the “assault weapons” ban bill has been more political, he said, and, as a result, people may not have as much confidence that it will be a policy that delivers the results it promises.


None of the gun control measures that the state’s Democratic majority have imposed over the past decade have delivered any measurable results, at least in terms of reducing violent crime. Take a look at these stats, courtesy of KDVR in Denver.

Colorado’s ban on “large capacity” magazines (defined by lawmakers as anything over 15-rounds) and “universal” background checks were approved in 2013. The presence of those laws didn’t reduce firearm-related crimes in 2014, and failed to prevent firearm-related crimes from rising almost every year since. In fact, while violent crimes involving all kinds of weapons have increased since then, the share of firearms-related offenses is growing at more rapid pace than crimes involving other weapons.

For gun control activists and anti-gun politicians, these figures are all the more reason to pass even more gun control legislation. But if insanity is doing the same thing while expecting different results, then it’s downright crazy to think that continuing to place more restrictions on peaceable gun owners is going to impact violent criminals.

Yet here we are. The “assault weapons” ban introduced in the House may not have the legs to make it Gov. Polis’s desk (though I wouldn’t take anything for granted), but both House and Senate Democrats are likely to approve waiting period legislation, bans on gun sales to adults younger than 21, restrictions on shooting on rural private property, and several other measures that are unquestionably aimed at legal gun owners. Hopefully Fenberg is right about the prospects of the proposed “assault weapons” ban in the Senate, but even if that bill fails there are plenty of reasons for Coloradans to be concerned about the erosion of one of their most fundamental rights.


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