Colorado Session Enters Final Stretch With Multiple Threats to Gun Owners

Townhall Media

Colorado legislators have one week left in this year's session, and while a number of gun control bills have already cleared both the House and Senate, anti-gun lawmakers appear to be struggling to get the support they need for their biggest and boldest infringement on our Second Amendment rights; a sweeping semi-auto ban that would prohibit the manufacture, sale, and in many cases, the transfer of many semi-automatic rifles, shotguns, and pistols. 

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On today's Bearing Arms Cam & Co, FASTER Colorado's Laura Carno says her sources at the state capitol are telling her there's a better than 50% chance that the bill will get to Gov. Jared Polis, though HB 1292 has been bottled up for nearly two weeks in the Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs committee. Democrat Sen. Tom Sullivan, whose son Alex was murdered in the 2012 Aurora theater shooting, is one of the co-chairs on the committee, and as we've previously reported, he's been vocally skeptical about a state-level gun ban despite his support for a wide variety of gun control measures. 

Federal, absolutely, he responded. State? No: It would inflame gun-rights supporters, was unlikely to be enforced and would not curb the vast majority of shootings.

“Banning? That doesn’t end well for us,” Sullivan said later that morning in his office. “And I’m speaking as the father of a son who was murdered by an assault weapon.”

With their biggest majority in 60 years, Colorado Democrats returned to the Capitol in January vowing to take on gun violence in a state scarred by mass killings — Columbine, the Aurora theater, the Boulder supermarket, Club Q. On April 28, activists and lawmakers celebrated as Gov. Jared Polis (D) signed four gun-control bills some hailed as the most significant ever. 

But missing was a proposal that divided gun-control proponents and highlighted the evolving political landscape of a blue state with a deep Western hunting and agricultural ethos: A ban on the sale or transfer of assault weapons had been defeated a week prior in a House committee on which Democrats hold nine of 13 seats. The view of Sullivan, one of the legislature's leading gun-control champions, helps explain why. 

“This isn’t transportation. This isn’t education. This is guns. We haven’t been comfortable talking about guns in the state of Colorado — ever,” Sullivan said. “Why don’t we try to strategically move forward, instead of blowing up the house?”

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Most of the Democrats in the House dismissed Sullivan's arguments when HB 1292 reached the floor two weeks ago. Nine Democrats joined every Republican in opposition, but thanks to the near supermajority the Democrats hold in the House the bill was still adopted on a 35-27 vote. 

Sullivan is no doubt being lobbied by both colleagues and gun control organizations to allow HB 1292 to clear his committee and hit the Senate floor despite his concerns, and he may very well end up deciding to be a good team player and go along with the demands of his fellow Democrats. After all, they've already adopted his bill mandating the use of merchant category codes in gun shops, sending it to Polis for his signature, so why wouldn't he do them a solid and at least allow an up-or-down vote on the gun ban bill? 

Amidst the Californication of Colorado's gun laws, there's at least one tiny bright spot. Carno says that a bill that would have obliterated the ability for school districts to have trained and vetted staff members carry firearms in defense of students was withdrawn by its chief sponsor when it became clear that there wasn't enough support, even among her fellow Democrats, to get it out of committee. Another bill, this one dealing with "sensitive places", prohibits most concealed carry holders from bringing their firearm onto campus, but it keeps the current policy in place for K-12 schools. It would, however, essentially repeal the campus carry law that's been in place for two decades, requiring colleges and universities to specifically authorize individuals to carry a firearm. 

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Carno says the push for gun control has divided the Democratic caucus in the state, to the point that some of the most vociferous gun grabbers like Rep Elisabeth Epps are facing primary challenges from more "moderate" Democrats. Carno's not predicting an avalanche of pro-Second Amendment sentiment from Democratic candidates this year, but she does believe that the anti-gunners are out of step with most Coloradans, and that could play a major role in the primaries. 

Be sure to check out the entire conversation with FASTER Colorado's Laura Carno in the video window below, and stay tuned. It's shaping up to be a wild week at the statehouse in Denver, and our Second Amendment rights are on the line.  


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