Mar 20, 2024 - Politics

Colorado Democrats push litany of gun control legislation again this year

Illustration of a giant hand in a suit holding a tiny AR-15.

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Democratic lawmakers are advancing a far-reaching package of new rules on firearms, drafted and backed by national advocates, to make it harder to obtain and carry guns in Colorado.

Why it matters: The nine bills are moving independently and drawing less attention than more concerted efforts in recent years to tighten regulations on firearms, but collectively, they would amount to some of the most significant new restrictions since the 2013 Aurora theater shooting.

Driving the news: The legislation being considered includes a ban on assault-style weapons, an 11% tax on gun and ammunition sales, mandatory secure firearm storage in vehicles and new standards for carrying a concealed weapon.

The intrigue: More than a fifth of the entire General Assembly is sponsoring at least one bill to put new restrictions on guns.

The latest: The ban on certain semi-automatic rifles won initial approval in a House committee just after midnight after a contentious all-day hearing.

  • The concealed carry training measure already passed the House along party lines while the Senate approved a bill to boost investigations of illegal firearms.
  • Three other bills are scheduled for action later this week.

What they're saying: Colorado residents shouldn't have to "live their lives with the omnipresent and very real palpable threat of gun violence permeating our every step," state Rep. Elisabeth Epps (D-Denver) said at a hearing Tuesday on her bill prohibiting "certain weapons used in mass shootings."

  • Dozens of opponents objected, including Republican lawmakers who pointed to the dozen gun-related restrictions approved in recent years amid the rise in crime rates.

The big picture: Colorado's dark history of mass shootings and gun violence at schools is informing the push. Democratic lawmakers are moving confidently this election year despite facing political blowback on the issue a decade ago, signaling a public shift in attitudes on guns.

Yes, but: It's not clear whether the most ambitious measures, such as the 11% tax or assault weapons ban will make it to the finish line. A similar bill died a year ago and is opposed by Gov. Jared Polis.

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