Lawmakers in Colorado this week wrangled over a slate of bills aimed at rolling back restrictions on gun ownership and the sale of firearms. While the arguments remain familiar, the legislative battles are taking place in the shadow of high-profile mass shootings that have occurred around the nation in recent years.
Colorado policymakers debated seven bills over gun control this week, with narrow defeats for four proposals in the Democrat-controlled House. Republicans, who won a slim majority in the Senate during last November’s elections, advanced two Senate bills -- one repealing a requirement for background checks for anyone transferring possession of a firearm, and another authorizing concealed carry for anyone authorized to carry a handgun. The measures are expected to fail in the House or be vetoed by the Democratic governor, however. Republican lawmakers in Colorado told the New York Times they were committed to the ideology of gun ownership championed by the party.
Families of victims of mass shootings appeared before state lawmakers earlier in the week to detail accounts of the shattering effect gun violence has had on their lives. Relatives of those who had died in the 1999 Columbine High School shooting, the 2012 Aurora theater shooting and the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary shooting testified before the congressional committees to persuade them not to relax restrictions on gun ownership.
All five Republican-sponsored bills debated by the House were defeated, including one that would have repealed a ban on owning high-capacity ammunition magazines. The bills were all aimed at repealing gun control measures that had been instated in 2013.
The bills attracted nationwide attention particularly in light of the mass shootings that have dominated headlines in recent years. Meanwhile, jury selection is underway for the trial of James Holmes, who perpetrated the Aurora theater shooting in Colorado that resulted in 12 deaths.