Colorado House begins debate on 'assault weapons' ban bill

'Assault weapons' ban is one of several gun control proposals lawmakers are considering
colorado capitol
Posted at 4:10 PM, Apr 12, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-12 19:34:29-04

DENVER — The Colorado House of Representatives began debating a bill on Friday that would ban so-called assault weapons.

HB24-1292, which is sponsored by State Reps. Elisabeth Epps and Tim Hernandez, would define “assault weapon” and ban the manufacture, import, sale, or purchase of such weapons in Colorado.

The bill would also ban the possession of rapid-fire trigger activators, which are devices that can be attached to a gun to increase the speed at which it fires.

The bill passed the House Judiciary Committee last month in a party-line vote of 7-3.

Hernandez said his background as a teacher and as the first Colorado state lawmaker from Gen Z (the generation born between 1997 and 2012) provides him with a perspective on guns that differs from most of his colleagues.

“We have been living with mass shootings for my entire life. We have been doing active shooter drills for my entire life. We have been waiting to die in schools because adults would not be bold enough on guns,” said Hernandez. “Then I finally became a teacher, and I sat with my students who were still afraid to die in schools because adults would still not be bold enough on guns.”

Hernandez said Friday marked the first time that an assault weapons proposal had made it to the House floor for debate.

“I'm not waiting anymore. Assault weapons must be banned in the state of Colorado,” Hernandez said.

Republican lawmakers like State Rep. Matt Soper said the bill violates the Second Amendment rights of Coloradans.

“I can tell you from rural Colorado, the one thing that people hold most dear would be their property and firearms are right there with it,” Soper said. “Firearms are very symbolic of our way of life, of who we are.”

State Rep. Richard Holtorf, a Republican who’s also running for Congress in the Fourth Congressional District, said he doesn’t believe many sheriffs in Colorado will enforce the legislation, should it become law.

“You need to understand that in the 64 counties, I would opine that about 47 of them will never, ever because of those to the Constitution enforce this statute,” said Holtorf.

The County Sheriffs of Colorado opposes the bill.

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Denver7 360 | Your Opinion

Perspectives on Colorado's proposed bill to ban 'assault weapons'

Jeff Anastasio
5:22 PM, Mar 20, 2024

Gun rights groups including the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners also oppose the bill and its executive director Taylor Rhodes threatened to file a lawsuit if it becomes law.

More than 500 people signed up to testify on the bill, which is one of several pieces of gun control legislation lawmakers are considering this year.

The bill is expected to easily pass the House, where Democrats hold a super majority.

Its future in the Senate, where more moderate Democrats serve, is unclear. It’s also not clear whether Gov. Jared Polis would sign the bill were it to make it to his desk.

The bill is supported by several progressive groups, including Everytown, Giffords, and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. The City of Denver and Denver Public Schools also support the bill, according to lobbyist records from the Colorado Secretary of State's Office.

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