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House Democrats deliver annual gun-bill rejections

Joey Bunch - Colorado Politics | Published on 4/23/2021

Democrats, as they do annually at the Colorado Capitol, sank a package of bills to advance gun rights supported by Republicans Wednesday.

Dying in the House State, Civic, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee Wednesday were:

House Bill 1082 would have provided an exemption for a background check if the applicant has a concealed carry permit, which required a background check. The bill was sponsored by House Republican leader Hugh McKean of Loveland.

House Bill 1070 would have repealed the ban on high-capacity ammunition magazines passed by the legislature in 2013. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Ron Hanks of Florence.

House Bill 1038 would have allowed concealed handguns on school grounds for anyone licensed to carry a weapon. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Patrick Neville of Castle Rock.

House Bill 1185 would have repealed the governor’s authority to restrict the sale of guns and ammunition during an emergency, and it would have allowed handgun training classes to be offered online or somewhere other than a classroom. This bill also was sponsored by Neville.

McKean said the background check for a gun sale is not as extensive as the one for the concealed carry permit, which requires a fingerprint that a sale doesn't. 

Tom Mauser, whose son, Daniel, was killed in the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, told the committee that Coloradans had worked hard to sew up loopholes on background checks. House Bill 1082 would create a loophole, since concealed carry permits are renewed only once every five years and requires that a sheriff who issued the concealed weapons permit know about any arrest in another jurisdiction.

"How is a gun seller going to know if a permit is legitimate or whether it's a forgery?" Mauser said, noting there is no database of concealed carry permits. "There is no standard for the look of permits."

Hanks said the high-capacity magazine ban only served to drive a magazine maker, Magpol, out of Colorado and increase demand for high-capacity magazines, as people feared bans in other states. 

"Whatever it may have solved is purely speculative," he said. 

Opponents cited statistics on mass shootings that involved high-capacity magazines.

Jane Dougherty of Littleton took a dim, personal view of the bill. Her sister, school psychologist Mary Sherlock, was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 by an assailant with high-capacity magazines. She recounted how many bullets he fired and when he reloaded, moving from place to place in the school, spraying classrooms with shots. Children escaped when he stopped to reload

"What we are buying in time is lives," she told the committee, noting the 26 people killed in minutes.

"I have heard there is concern that magazine limits offend law-abiding gun owners," Dougherty continued. "It is truly offensive that some place more value on dangerous gun accessories than lives. It is us, the family members, that accept the ultimate punishment, the loss of a family member to the use of a high-capacity magazine."

Robert Edmiston, representing the Firearms Coalition of Colorado, an affiliate of the National Rifle Association, said the bill allowing concealed weapons in schools would deter crime.

"This bill proposes to take the criminal-safe free firing zone out of the schoolhouse shooting equation," he said. "If this bill became law, the next would-be killer in a Colorado school could face one or more armed defenders who will not have to respond from miles away."

"I think this gives our students a chance," said Neville, who was a student at Columbine 22 years ago.