Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Colorado Senate clears gun control package

MEGAN SCHRADER Updated: March 11, 2013 at 12:00 am

DENVER • Five gun control measures passed the Senate on Monday, but none was as close as the single-vote margin that passed a ban on ammunition magazines that hold more than 15 rounds.

The other four bills that passed, after multiple hours of debate: mandate background checks for all gun sales, including between private individuals; charge gun buyers a fee for all background checks; prohibit completely online training for concealed carry permits; and revoke weapons from individuals convicted of domestic abuse.

Only the bill requiring the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to recoup costs for background checks is headed to the governor. The other bills either originated in the Senate and must go through the House or were amended and must go back to the House for approval.

Democrats are applauding the “comprehensive package” as a major step in decreasing gun-related crime in Colorado.

The final vote on HB 229 was 18-17. The bill bans the possession, sale and transfer of high-capacity magazines — those that hold more than 15 rounds of ammunition — and makes violation of the law a misdemeanor. Current owners of magazines exceeding the limit are granted an exemption and may retain their magazines. Manufacturers are required to date-stamp their products under the bill.

Sen. Cheri Jahn, of Wheat Ridge, was one of two Democrats voting against it.

“I just see it as completely unenforceable,” Jahn said. “I do not believe that this bill would have stopped any one of the horrific things that happened. I really don’t.”

Democrats who supported magazine limits say it will help reduce the number of casualties at mass shootings by making assailants reload more often. Sen. Mike Johnston, D-Denver, said a witness at the Sandy Hook massacre in December testified 11 children ran out of the room while the shooter reloaded. In the 2011 shooting in Tucson, Ariz., Johnston said the time it took to reload was enough for two men to tackle the armed assailant.

“If we just one time, give someone in this chamber, in a theater enough time to be a hero … they’ll fight for us and keep us safe,” Johnston said. “We’re not asking for it all. We’re just asking for 11 seconds to keep them safe.”

The bill now heads back to the House, where it already has passed, because of an amendment that changes the limit on shotgun shells from eight to a limit on the length of the tube holding the cartridges.

Senate President Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs, called it an “oops” amendment — a correction of a major oversight that would have made most shotguns illegal because an eight-cartridge tube can hold more than eight smaller shells.

“This bill criminalizes legal products in Colorado,” Cadman said. “There won’t be any way to distinguish whether they are pre-ban or post-ban … casting a shadow of illegality on hundreds of thousands of people who have these magazines already.”

Two other gun-related measures — one to hold the sellers, buyers and manufacturers of assault-style weapons liable for damages caused by the guns and one prohibiting concealed carry on Colorado college campuses — were withdrawn by Democratic authors Friday night, lacking enough support for the bills to pass.

Contact Megan Schrader

719-286-0644

Twitter: @CapitolSchrader

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