Ban on assault weapons clears Colorado House

by Bente Birkeland at

A bill to ban the sale of so-called assault weapons in Colorado cleared the Democratic controlled House on Sunday.

Under the legislation, businesses and individuals would no longer be able to sell or transfer these weapons, but current owners would be allowed to keep their guns.

“I ask us to commit, colleagues, to never forgetting, as begged by community members, family members, and children themselves over 25 years, and every year since,” said Democratic Rep. Tim Hernández of Denver on the House floor in reference to the Columbine shooting on April 20, 1999. He’s one of the bill’s main sponsors, and at age 26, the legislature’s youngest member.

House bill 1292 would define an assault weapon as a “semi-automatic rifle” that uses detachable magazines and has one of a number of features. Those include a pistol grip, a folding stock, a barrel shroud or a threaded barrel. The bill would also ban certain .50 caliber rifles, semi automatic pistols, shotguns with revolving cylinders and semi-automatic shotguns.

The bill passed the house 35 to 27, with three members absent. Democrats hold a supermajority in the chamber and could lose 13 votes, but they only lost eight. The bill now heads to the state Senate.

This is the first time an assault weapons bill has advanced this far. A similar proposal failed in the House Judiciary Committee last year and in years prior there wasn’t enough support from Democrats to even introduce a measure.

“The community I represent is [as] diverse as are the views of our caucus, and the views of Coloradans,” said Democratic House majority leader Monica Duran, who voted to support the bill. She holds a concealed carry permit and has been an advocate for responsible gun ownership.

“The outreach I have received from every corner of my district has been phenomenal and they support this bill, said Duran.”

Every Republican lawmaker opposed the bill, arguing that it is not only unconstitutional but poorly crafted, ineffective and would actually make Colorado less safe. Rep. Marc Catlin of Montrose said his heart goes out to the victims of mass shootings, but said painting a broad brush on a huge part of the state is not the answer.