Colorado Democrats Set to Consider Multiple Gun Control Bills This Week

AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File

Even though Colorado lawmakers are expected to spend the bulk of their time this week on budget issues, the Democrat-controlled House could still consider a bill banning so-called assault weapons in the coming days, while more anti-gun bills are scheduled for hearings and votes in committees. 

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The gun ban bill has already cleared the House Judiciary Committee on a party-line vote (albeit with some minor changes), and it's expected that several other gun control measures will be heading to the House floor later this week. 

On Wednesday, the House Business Affairs and Labor Committee will consider two bills concerning firearm sales in the state. HB24-1353 would require firearms dealers to obtain a state license to do business overlapping with federal licensing. SB24-066, which already passed the Senate, would require companies that process payments to create specific category codes for firearms and ammunition sales.

The House on Monday held a formal vote on HB24-1348, which would set requirements for safe gun storage in vehicles. It passed 41-22 and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

A proposal to ban the purchase and transfer of so-called assault weapons, HB24-1292, was also scheduled for debate, but it was pushed as the chamber juggles its calendar. That bill may come up later this week.

Mandating that FFLs obtain a state license is just an attempt to smother gun store owners in red tape, while the Senate bill mandating the use of merchant category codes for firearms and ammunition sales could create a back-door gun and ammunition registry, at least for those customers who use credit cards instead of cash to pay for their purchases. 

The storage mandate for guns in vehicles that the House approved on Monday prohibits "knowingly leaving a firearm in an unattended vehicle unless the firearm is stored in a locked hard-sided container that is not left in plain view or that is in the locked trunk of the vehicle."  A violation of the proposed law would be a civil infraction, punishable by a maximum $500 fine.

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Colorado Democrats have struggled this session to reconcile their anti-gun animosity and desire for new gun control laws with their opposition to putting lawbreakers in prison, choosing instead in many cases to punish violators with stiff financial penalties instead of jail time. The "assault weapon" ban that could be heard on the House floor this week originally came with fines of $250,000 or more, for instance, but the bill was amended in committee to instead make violations a "petty offense", which under Colorado law comes with a fine up to $500 and the possibility of a six-month jail sentence.  

Either way, those penalties aren't going to do much to stop violent criminals, but they will have a chilling effect on some gun owners... at least in the portions of the state where that ban is likely to be enforced. 

Legislative correspondents have been hinting that the gun ban proposal could run into bipartisan opposition once it hits the floor, and Colorado gun owners shouldn't assume that the bill is guaranteed to pass. Apathy is the enemy, and Second Amendment advocates still need to reach out to their state representatives, even if they're Democrats, to urge them to reject this gun ban. No matter how much it might get watered down, prohibiting the sale, purchase, and possession of some of the most commonly owned firearms in the country is an egregious violation of our Second Amendment rights. 

Now, that argument might not sway too many Democrats, but I also expect that the harm is most likely to fall on the residents of deep-blue locations like Denver, Aurora, and Boulder; with many rural law enforcement agencies refusing to enforce the statute if it's enacted into law. 

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Instead of creating new and largely toothless possessory crimes, Democrats need to get serious about addressing violent offenders in the state. For a decade now, Colorado lefties in the legislature have adopted a string of gun control measures, none of which have made the state a safer place. The gun control bills up for consideration this week just continue the trend of targeting lawful gun owners instead of violent criminals. If they pass their biggest impact may very well be the number of Coloradans who decide it's time to move someplace where their Second Amendment rights are respected.  

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