Colorado Republicans gain fleeting victory vs. gun control
Feb. 03, 2015
DENVER (AP) — Colorado Republicans notched their biggest victory yet against gun-control measures they have tried in vain to block for the last two years.
The GOP took advantage of its new Senate majority to push through a repeal of expanded background-check requirements on private and online gun sales.
But the victory likely will be fleeting. The repeal, which cleared its first committee Monday and appears headed toward approval by the full Senate, faces certain death in the House. Democrats control that chamber.
The GOP effort comes as the death penalty trial against the man accused in the suburban Denver theater shooting rampage, which touched off the fight over gun laws, gets underway.
Lawmakers have wrestled over gun control in Congress and in state legislatures across the U.S. since President Barack Obama and other Democratic leaders led the call for new restrictions after the 2012 theater shooting and another mass shooting months later at a Connecticut elementary school. Dozens were killed and wounded in the attacks.
Colorado, with Democrats in control of both chambers of state government and the governor's office, was one of the only states to pass changes, including a measure limiting the size of ammunition magazines and another that expanded background-check requirements. But it came at great political cost. Two Democratic state senators were recalled over their support for the restrictions, and a third resigned as a campaign to oust her was mounting.
The minor victory Monday for repealing the expanded background checks gave Republicans a chance to flex some muscle against a 2013 law they have always hated.
"This is a very dysfunctional" law, said Republican Sen. Kent Lambert, the bill's sponsor.
The GOP committee also approved another Republican gun effort: allowing anyone over 21 who can legally possess a gun to carry a concealed firearm without a permit, except on school grounds.
On the same day those two Republican bills advanced, a Democratic committee axed five other GOP gun bills. Republicans said before the session started that they hoped Democrats would reconsider the 2013 gun controls.
Democrats in the House didn't talk much during a marathon hearing that ran late into the night. They simply voted down all five proposals, including a bill almost identical to Lambert's background-check repeal. Another bill rejected by Democrats would have repealed a 15-round ammunition limit.
Even if the repeals did pass, Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper would be likely to veto them.
The testimony ran long Monday, but echoed the emotions that have previous gun debates in Colorado so raw. Lawmakers heard from relatives of people killed the 2012 theater shooting, as well as other victims of mass shootings.
Jane Dougherty, whose sister was killed in the attack at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, was among those who spoke in favor of the expanded background checks, saying they would help stop "the senseless slaughter of a family member."
Associated Press writer Ivan Moreno contributed to this report.