Guv: Check history of all gun buyers
DENVER — Gov. John Hickenlooper called on state legislators to enact a law for universal background checks in all gun sales in the state.
In his State-of-the-State address to a joint session of the Colorado Legislature on Thursday, the Democrat reissued his call to lawmakers to find new ways to ensure that guns are kept out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them, suggesting that was one idea they could start with.
He said after the 1999 shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, voters approved a new law to require background checks at gun shows.
In light of the recent shootings in Aurora and Connecticut, it’s time to expand those background checks to include all gun sales, including private ones, he said.
“We have shown in Colorado that we can learn from tragedy and make changes,” the Democrat said. “Surely, Second Amendment advocates and gun-control supporters can find common ground in support of this proposition: Let’s examine our laws and make the changes needed to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.”
The governor’s idea irked several GOP lawmakers, including Sen. Steve King.
The Grand Junction Republican said “of course” people want to keep firearms out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them.
The real question is, how do you do that without infringing on the rights of law-abiding citizens?
“It’s easy to get a standing ovation when you talk in such broad terms,” King said. “Show me the legislation and then I will either stand and clap, or stand and debate. I can think of so many reasons why I’m not going to stand and clap to that.”
Other Republicans were more adamant against the idea, saying expanding background checks will do little to deter bad people from doing bad things.
“Criminals don’t care about background checks,” said Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs. “Criminals are going to find a way to get them, regardless.”
Hickenlooper touched on numerous other issues in his 40-minute address, the third he’s given to the Legislature since becoming governor.
He also called for:
■ An overhaul of he state’s mental health system that would better identify violent offenders earlier in life.
A more comprehensive state water resource plan that pushes for more water conservation.
■ Passing a bill creating civil unions for same-sex couples.
■ Lowering college tuition rates for the children of illegal immigrants.
■ Continuing to focus on measures to boost jobs and the economy, including a bill to aid advanced-science industries.
The governor also touched on energy development, saying he plans to continue to push for such things as renewable energy and compressed natural gas vehicles.
Hickenlooper, however, fired a warning shot across the bow of some in the environmental community who he’s battled with over hydraulic fracturing issues.
“As we regulate this industry, or any industry, in Colorado, let’s make sure that our focus is fair, rational and based on science,” he said.
“We can work through these issues in partnership with local government, and to do that we need strong relationships with local officials,” the governor said.
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is suing Longmont over new laws limiting drilling activities and the use of fracking fluid.
The governor also called on the Legislature to approve King’s too-stoned-to-drive measure, saying it’s needed now that Colorado voters approved Amendment 64, which legalized the recreational use of marijuana.
King said he appreciated that support, saying he expects getting that measure through the Legislature may prove more difficult than he initially thought.
“The new argument (from opponents) is that they are empowered in the fact that the state of Colorado and the state of Washington has legalized marijuana, so they don’t see a need (for the DUI bill),” King said. “I just end up shaking my head, or banging it against the wall.”
It doesn’t matter to the opponents that Washington’s marijuana legalization law included a DUID provision similar to King’s bill, which has not yet been introduced.