Legislature OKs scrutiny of all gun sales

DENVER — A measure to require universal background checks on all gun sales cleared its final legislative hurdle Friday, receiving a final vote in the Colorado House and Senate and being sent to the governor’s desk.

Earlier this week, the measure was rerouted to a special conference committee to iron out issues Republicans had raised with it, which primarily dealt with giving firearms to family members and the temporary transfer of guns within family corporations, gun clubs and other organizations.

Despite changes clarifying how those transfers would occur, Republicans said there still were huge holes in HB1229.

“This bill does nothing to help prevent gun violence,” said Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling. “All you have done is make 4-H kids, stepchildren and in-laws criminals.”

Rep. Bob Rankin, R-Glenwood Springs, said the changes did fix problems hunters may face with using guns owned by family or friends, but the bill still creates enough confusion to cause problems.

As a result, that confusion will cause jobs to be lost because it will drive hunters to other states.

“Background checks are not that unpopular if they’re done right, but this bill has so much uncertainty,” Rankin told fellow House members. “I’m going to make you a promise that when I come down here with a bill to either repeal or clarify this (next year), I’m going to bring with me a report on how many jobs were lost because of this bill.”

Supporters, however, argued that all those issues were addressed, and public safety will be enhanced.

They said the measure closes a major loophole in the background check law, saying that 40 percent of all gun transfers in the state are done privately.

“I truly believe that background checks save lives,” said Rep. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora. “It has already done so. We already have it in place for new gun sales, we have it in place for gun shows. This background check project is already in existence. It’s proven to work.”

The bill marks the third measure sent to Gov. John Hickenlooper. Earlier this week, the Legislature approved a bill to limit gun magazines to no more than 15 rounds, and one requiring gun buyers to pay for their own background checks.

House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, said he expects the governor to sign the measures in a bill-signing ceremony later this month.

Legislators are still debating two other gun-related measures: SB195 that mandates that not all concealed-carry training courses can be conducted online, and SB197 barring domestic violence offenders from possessing weapons.

Both await hearings in the House Judiciary Committee.



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