Apr 29, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Colorado lawmakers push gun limits in response to Boulder shooting

Armed police officers are seen outside a King Soopers on Table Mesa Drive in Boulder after reports of shots fired on March 22, 2021.
Armed police officers seen outside a King Soopers on Table Mesa Drive in Boulder after reports of shots fired on March 22. Photo by Matthew Jonas/Boulder Daily Camera via Getty Images

Colorado lawmakers unveiled a package of legislation on Thursday in response to last month's mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado, saying "we are transforming the country."

The big picture: The legislation aims to strengthen background checks and prohibit certain individuals from accessing firearms.

  • If passed, a person convicted of a violent misdemeanor would be banned from purchasing a gun for five years.
  • The so-called Charleston loophole would be eliminated to prevent a person from obtaining a firearm before a background check is completed.

In addition, the measure would overturn a court decision that prohibits local governments from approving tougher gun restrictions than those at the state level.

  • If approved, Colorado would also create an Office of Gun Violence Prevention to study additional measures to limit gun-related deaths.

Yes, but: The legislative package does not include an assault weapons ban, as lawmakers initially proposed, nor any additional resources to address mental health.

What they're saying: State Sen. Steve Fenberg (D-Boulder) said the bills are the "most effective steps Colorado needs to take to save the most lives."

  • "There's no single policy we can pass that will guarantee no more lives will be taken from us," Fenberg said on Thursday. "We also know that we must continue to demand federal action on gun violence prevention. But this cannot be an excuse for inaction."
  • Democratic Gov. Jared Polis, who didn't attend the an announcement of the legislation, issued a statement to Axios calling the legislation "common sense strategies ... to keep Coloradans safer and reduce violent crime."

Catch up quick: A shooting at a Boulder grocery store on March 22 that killed 10, including a police officer, is the latest in a deadly streak of mass shootings in Colorado.

  • The alleged shooter, 22-year-old Al Aliwi Alissa, faces more than 50 criminal charges, including 10 counts of first-degree murder.
  • Alissa's attorneys say he suffered from mental health issues, and in 2017, he pleaded guilty to third-degree assault, a misdemeanor.

The other side: Gun rights advocates in Colorado suggested the legislation to tighten background checks is not needed and called a patchwork of local restriction unworkable.

  • "Honoring others by denying God-given rights to law-abiding citizens is never a good idea," said Taylor Rhodes, executive director of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, a Second Amendment advocacy organization.
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