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Gun Safety

Guns are big topic at the Capitol this year.  A variety of proposals have been introduced thus far, and more are expected.  Several have already been defeated.  On February 5, 2013, the leaders of the Democratic caucuses in the House and Senate held a press conference to announce their plans for gun safety legislation.  This post outlines the various gun bills the legislature is expected to face this session.

As of the date of this post, 14 bills about firearms have been introduced.  Here’s a quick list of those bills and where they are in the process (if no Status is indicated then no action has yet been taken on the bill):

  • HB 1043 by Rep. Mike Foote.  Modifies definition of “deadly weapon” in criminal code.
  • HB 1048 by Rep. Justin Everett & Sen. Kevin Grantham.  Expands the “Make My Day Law” to apply at businesses (current law only applies to homes).  Status: defeated in committee
  • HB 1085 by Rep. Perry Buck & Sen. Scott Renfroe.  Creates exceptions to restrictions on firearms possession by previous offenders with certain criminal convictions.
  • HB 1162 by Rep. Chris Holbert & Sen. Owen Hill.  Allows concealed weapons to be carried without a permit.
  • HB 1169 by Rep. Stephen Humphrey & Sen. Greg Brophy.  Allows concealed weapon permits holders to be exempt from background check requirements for subsequent gun purchases.
  • HB 1170 by Rep. Stephen Humphrey & Sen. Owen Hill.  Allows concealed weapons to be carried in public schools.
  • HB 1187 by Rep. Lois Landgraf & Sen. Kevin Lundberg.  Attempts to prevent new federal laws restricting firearms from applying within the State of Colorado.
  • SB 9 by Sens. Scott Renfroe and Ted Harvey & Rep. Lori Saine.  Allows concealed weapons to be carried in public schools.  Status: defeated in committee
  • SB 62 by Sen. Kent Lambert & Rep. Lori Saine.  Requires businesses that do not allow concealed weapons to be carried on their premises to hire private security.  Status:  defeated in committee
  • SB 140 by Sen. Vicki Marble & Rep. Lori Saine.  Attempts to prevent new federal laws restricting firearms from applying within the State of Colorado.

The package of gun safety legislation has not yet been heard in committee, and some of the expected bill have not been introduced.  The announced package includes:

  • HB 1224 by Rep. Rhonda Fields & Sen. Mary Hodge.  Bans sale and possession of high-capacity magazines (more than 10 rounds).
  • HB 1226 by Rep. Claire Levy & Sen. Rollie Heath.  Closes loophole allowing concealed weapons in buildings on college campuses (in response to recent ruling from Colorado Supreme Court).
  • HB 1228 by Rep. Lois Court & Sen. Rollie Heath.  Imposes a fee on the criminal background checks required for gun purchases at firearms dealers and gun shows.   CBI initial estimates put the fee at $10 to $12 per transaction.
  • HB 1229 by Reps. Rhonda Fields and Beth McCann & Sen. Morgan Carroll.  Background check modernization act expands the requirement to private sales and improves data and process for conducting checks.
  • (not yet introduced) by Sen. Lois Tochtrop & Rep. Jenise May.  Clarifies that required training courses for concealed weapon permits must be conducted in person and that online courses are not acceptable. 
  • (not yet introduced) by Sen. Evie Hudak & Rep. Beth McCann.  Clarifies domestic violence convictions and protection orders that prevent firearms transfers and improves method tracking this data for background check purposes.
  • (not yet introduced) by Sen. John Morse & Rep. Beth McCann.  Imposes strict liability standard on owners, possessors, manufacturers and dealers of certain types of firearms, excluding handguns, bolt-action rifles and shotguns.
  • (not yet introduced) by Rep. Beth McCann.  Requires mental health professionals to report patients who pose a danger of serious physical harm to themselves or others and improves method of tracking data on mental health for background check purposes.

Most of these bills are more detailed and complicated than the one sentence explanations I’ve listed above, and as with most pieces of legislation, the Devil is often in the details.  I’m particularly interested in studying Rep. McCann’s mental health bill once it is introduced.  Issues raised by this proposal are going to be tricky to navigate, as sensitive mental health information is being reported. 

As member of the Joint Budget Committee I am most interested in HB 1228 and am very supportive of this legislation to require persons buying guns to pay for their own background checks and not have this service provided at taxpayer expense.  I know gun collectors that make many purchases a year, but under current law taxpayers are subsidizing their hobby.  Those general fund tax dollars could be put to better use.

The debate on these bills is just beginning to heat up and the temperature will continue to rise.  Protest rallies for and against one side of the issue or another are happening more frequently and are likely to intensify.  Our phones are ringing and the volume of email messages from all sides of the debate is quite heavy.  In Senate District 31 I am hearing more from those wanting greater restrictions on firearms and their sales, but there are a lot of messages in support of 2nd Amendment rights as well.  And I’m getting calls and emails from people all over the state.

I am not sponsoring any gun legislation this year as I already have a full load from my role chairing the Joint Budget Committee and my continued work on Civil Unions, criminal justice reforms and other issues.  This doesn’t mean I won’t be taking part in the debate and advocating for or against the various proposals, but legislators like Rep. Beth McCann and Rep. Rhonda Fields are out in front of these issues and I appreciate the difficulty of the controversy they are taking on.

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