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State bills to loosen restrictions on gun owners shot down

By: JOHN SCHROYER
March 5, 2012
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A pair of bills to loosen restrictions on gun owners were shot down Monday afternoon by state Senate Democrats who said the measures were too extreme.

The first bill would have prohibited law enforcement officers from confiscating guns from citizens during a declared state of emergency, and was backed by House Majority Leader Amy Stephens, R-Monument, and Sen. Steve King, R-Grand Junction.

The second, informally known as the “Make My Day Better” bill, would have allowed business owners without a concealed weapon permit to shoot intruders. It would have expanded the so-called “Make My Day” law, which allows home owners to shoot anyone breaking into their home. It was backed by Sen. Kevin Grantham, R-Canon City.

They got gunned down in the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee. They were killed on 3-2 party line votes.

George Hughes, police chief for the Colorado School of Mines, said the bills “go too far,” and would endanger more officers by allowing broader use of firearms. Gun advocates, including Joe Neville of the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners Association, painted the bills as reasonable measures to protect Coloradans.

Democrats sided with Hughes.

“This dramatically changes self defense. It goes way, way, way beyond what I would consider responsible,” said Sen. Rollie Heath, D-Boulder.

Grantham told Heath, “Nobody is given a license to kill. Nobody. This is about basic protection.”

While Grantham seemed resigned to his bill losing, King was infuriated that the bill blocking police seizure of weapons during an emergency was voted down.

“I’ve never been more disappointed in our chiefs of police than I am right now,” he said. King is a former police officer and sheriff’s deputy in Mesa County.

Stephens and Grantham lamented the losses, and said both measures would be brought back next year.

“This says that the Democrats in the Senate don’t believe that citizens should have their guns in times of emergency,” said Stephens.

Stephens said she doesn’t even own a gun. But she’s shopping for one.

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