Lawmakers to battle over four gun bills

Final votes on all measures could be as early as Monday

DENVER — It may not be as legendary as the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, but Republicans and Democrats in the Colorado House are expected to shoot it out most of today over a slew of gun-control bills.

The 65 legislators will fire volleys over four gun-related measures: HB1224 to limit how many bullets can be in high-capacity ammunition magazines, HB1226 to bar concealed-carry weapons on college campuses, HB1228 to require gun buyers to pay for their own background checks and HB1229 to require background checks on all gun purchases.

Although Democrats hold a 37-28 majority in the House, Republicans plan to do all they can to amend or kill those measures, which they say would do nothing to prevent the shooting deaths that occurred last year at an Aurora movie theater and a Connecticut elementary school.

They’ve already complained that the Democrats are ramming the measures through the Legislature at breakneck speed, saying they aren’t being given an opportunity to voice their concerns.

Rep. Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs, likened the Democrats control over the gun debate to Soviet-era Russia, saying he was denied the right to ask questions about one of the measures and that’s no way for a democracy to act.

“To trivialize what I am doing is to diminish me and it is to diminish this debate,” Gardner said. “And so Mr. Speaker and the members of the majority party, I ask you to consider that this debate is the debate of the people of Colorado and to curtail that debate ... is nothing less than to diminish the process.”

House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, said Republicans will be able to talk all they like about the measures, adding that he’s prepared to keep lawmakers in Denver over the weekend if GOP legislators want to stay that long.

As the House calendar is planned now, lawmakers are to cast a preliminary vote on the four measures today, and give final approval as early as Monday.

Meanwhile, Gov. John Hickenlooper said Thursday that he awaits whatever measures actually reach his desk.

He said he supports universal background checks on all purchases, but is unclear on what a good compromise would be on the magazines and in requiring gun buyers to pay for their own background checks.

Currently, the magazine bill is limited to 15 rounds, but Hickenlooper said he would accept a measure that extends that to 20 rounds.

The governor was less committed to the concealed-carry measure and a fifth bill that is to come from the Senate, but has not yet been introduced.

That bill, to be sponsored by Senate President John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, centers on limiting ownership of military-style assault weapons.


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