Updated: March 20, 2013 at 12:00 am
DENVER (AP) — Exactly eight months after dozens of people were shot in a suburban Denver movie theater, Gov. John Hickenlooper will sign new restrictions on firearms in Colorado, signaling a historic change for Democrats who traditionally shied away from taking on gun control in a state where owning a gun is as common as owning a care in some rural areas.
The Democratic governor plans to sign new limits on ammunition magazines and a landmark expansion of background checks on Wednesday in his office, surrounded by legislative sponsors and their guests. The signings will mark a significant moment in Colorado, a state with a moderate streak and a pioneer tradition of self-reliance.
Over the last month, Colorado has been viewed as a test for how far the nation is willing to go on new restrictions after the horror of shootings at a Connecticut elementary school and in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. There, eight months ago on July 20, a gunman dressed in body armor and carrying an arsenal of firearms killed 12 people and wounded dozens of others.
The shootings convinced Hickenlooper, a gun rights advocate, and other state Democrats to take on gun control.
The National Weather Service says we can expect a high of 53 degrees and partly sunny skies in Colorado Springs on Wednesday, the first day of spring. The forecast overnight low is 34.
3 people injured in Grand Junction home explosion
GRAND JUNCTION (AP) — Three people have been injured in a home explosion near a leak in a natural gas line in Grand Junction.
Xcel Energy says a construction crew unaffiliated with the utility had been working in the area.
Authorities say firefighters were at the leak site Tuesday afternoon when they spotted a fire at the home, which then exploded due to the gas inside. One person in the home is out of the hospital, but two others remain hospitalized.
The home and one next door were left to burn to use up leaking gas.
Grand Junction High School was evacuated but will be open Wednesday. Tope Elementary remains evacuated. About 75 homes also were evacuated through Tuesday night.
The incident temporarily left Colorado Mesa University without gas and 104 buildings without electricity.
Wildfire considered 95 percent contained
FORT COLLINS (AP) — A wildfire in the foothills west of Fort Collins is now 95 percent contained.
Larimer County sheriff's officials say the 1,300-acre Galena Fire was staying largely within containment lines Tuesday. Crews that had been fighting the fire from the air have been released, and more firefighters are expected to be sent home Wednesday, leaving about 60 people to fight the blaze.
The fire has damaged numerous pedestrian bridges in Lory State Park. That park and Horsetooth Mountain Park were closed due to the fire, but Horsetooth Mountain Park is scheduled to reopen Wednesday.
The fire prompted evacuations after it broke out Friday, but residents were allowed back home the next day. The fire is believed to have been human-caused.
Oil spill no threat to water, officials say
DENVER (AP) — The underground flow of an oil-like substance near a creek in western Colorado has slowed, and officials say they are confident local water sources are not at risk. But much remains unknown, like where the liquid is coming from, what's in it or when it started to ooze.
On March 8, workers from Williams, an energy company with a natural gas plant and several pipelines in Parachute, Colo., were evaluating the area in preparation for the installation of a new pipeline. In the process of excavating existing pipelines, workers encountered contaminated soil and immediately reported it to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, according to a spill report filed by Williams.
The commission responded by asking Williams for a plan to clean up the affected soil, according to Todd Hartman, a spokesman for the state Department of Natural Resources, which oversees the commission. But on March 13, Hartman said, Williams notified the agency that the contamination was liquid hydrocarbons, essentially a lighter form of oil. That raised the level of alarm, and by the end of the week, industry and state officials decided to announce the leak publicly.
"When additional liquid hydrocarbons were discovered, at that point our field people were in contact with COGCC directors, because they believed this was a serious event," Hartman said.
So far, operators have recovered 5,838 gallons of oil and 86,478 gallons of contaminated groundwater. The seepage covers a 200-by-170 foot area and is just 60 feet from Parachute Creek, which runs into the Colorado River.
TODAY IN HISTORY
In 1413, England’s King Henry IV died; he was succeeded by Henry V.
In 1727, physicist, mathematician and astronomer Sir Isaac Newton died in London.
In 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte returned to Paris after escaping his exile on Elba, beginning his “Hundred Days” rule.
In 1852, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s influential novel about slavery, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” was first published in book form after being serialized.
In 1922, the decommissioned USS Jupiter, converted into the first U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, was recommissioned as the USS Langley.
In 1952, the U.S. Senate ratified, 66-10, the Treaty of Peace with Japan.
In 1969, John Lennon married Yoko Ono in Gibraltar.
In 1977, voters in Paris chose former French Prime Minister Jacques Chirac to be the French capital’s first mayor in more than a century.
In 1985, Libby Riddles of Teller, Alaska, became the first woman to win the Iditarod Trail Dog Sled Race.
In 1988, 8-year-old DeAndra Anrig found herself airborne when the string of her kite was snagged by an airplane flying over Shoreline Park in Mountain View, Calif. (DeAndra was lifted 10 feet off the ground and carried about 100 feet until she let go; she was not seriously hurt.)
In 1995, in Tokyo, 12 people were killed and more than 5,500 others sickened when packages containing the poisonous gas sarin were leaked on five separate subway trains by Aum Shinrikyo cult members.
Ten years ago: On the first day of the Iraq War, a subdued Saddam Hussein appeared on state-run television after the initial American air strike on Baghdad, accusing the United States of a “shameful crime” and urging his people to “draw your sword” against the invaders. American combat units rumbled across the desert into Iraq from the south, and U.S. and British forces bombed limited targets in Baghdad. The start of war in Iraq triggered one of the heaviest days of anti-government protesting in years, leading to thousands of arrests across the United States and prompting pro-war counter-demonstrations.
Five years ago: In a setback for Democrat Hillary Clinton, a drive for a second Michigan presidential primary collapsed as the state Senate adjourned without taking up a measure calling for a do-over contest. (Michigan had held an early primary in January 2008 in violation of Democratic Party rules and was stripped of its delegates as a result.)
One year ago: Front-runner Mitt Romney won the Illinois Republican primary with ease, routing Rick Santorum for his third big-state win in a row.
-- CC Women’s Lacrosse vs. Plymouth State University, 2 p.m., Washburn Field, 44 W. Cache La Poudre St., Colorado College, free.
-- Pikes Peak Blues Community’s Blues Jam, 7 p.m,. Stargazers Theatre and Event Center, 10 S. Parkside Drive, $5 donation.
-- Brian Parton, 7 p.m.-midnight, Meadow Muffins, 2432 W. Colorado Ave., free cover.
-- Rawbert and I, 7:30-10:30 p.m., SouthSide Johnny’s, 528 S. Tejon St.