Election 2020 Hickenlooper
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Democratic president candidate and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper speaks at a town hall gathering at Keene State College, in Keene, N.H., in May.

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From a mass shooting in an Aurora movie theater to the assassination of his state prisons chief, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper brought his experience to the gun reform legislation his presidential campaign released Wednesday.

Besides banning assault rifles, Hickenlooper would require gun owners to get a license based on eligibility requirements, including a background check, then renew that license every five years.

Gun owners born after 2001 would also have to show they’ve had professional training.

“Before you can drive a car, you have to get a license and demonstrate you can responsibly drive that vehicle,” Hickenlooper said in a statement. “I believe we should create that same right of passage for gun ownership.

“Under my plan, people born after 2001 would need to get a license and pass a test that demonstrates they can safely handle and store a gun before they can own one. Most hunters go through hunter safety classes to get a hunting license, so it reasons we should expand this practice across guns that are even more potentially dangerous than a hunting rifle.”

His presidential plan goes farther than any Colorado Democrats attempted in the Legislature during his two terms as governor.

In 2013 Hickenlooper signed Democrat-driven bills to require mandatory background checks and ban ammunition magazines that hold more than 15 rounds.

Gun rights supporters recalled then two high-profile Democrats senators, Senate President John Morse of Colorado Springs and Sen. Angela Giron of Pueblo, while a third senator, Evie Hudak of Arvada, resigned as a recall effort took shape.

Republican Colorado sheriffs sued in vain to block the laws.

The plan also includes funding community programs to “break the cycle of violence” in some urban areas. Hickenlooper’s proposal also would make the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms part of the FBI.

Hickenlooper’s proposal is similar to one offered by Cory Booker, the New Jersey senator, former mayor Newark and a rival in the Democratic presidential primary.

His campaign announced Wednesday that Hickenlooper will meet Saturday with families connected to the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

He has met with survivors from Columbine High School in Littleton, where 13 people were killed in 1999, and Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., where nine people were killed in an assault in 2015.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Contact Joey Bunch at joey.bunch@coloradopolitics.com.

Contact Joey Bunch at joey.bunch@coloradopolitics.com or follow him on Twitter @joeybunch.

Colorado Politics senior political reporter

Joey Bunch is the senior correspondent and deputy managing editor of Colorado Politics. His 32-year career includes the last 16 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and he is a two-time finalist.

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