DENVER – Democrats on a state House committee on Wednesday effectively killed three gun-related bills sponsored by Republicans in the first blow to a handful of pieces of legislation aiming to strip some limitations on gun ownership in the state.
The House State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee voted 6-3 in party-line votes to “postpone indefinitely” House Bills 1036, 1037 and 1097 – usually a death sentence in Colorado’s Legislature. The three bills were debated for more than eight hours.
Bill would have allowed concealed handguns on public campuses
House Bill 1036 would have completely stripped language from state statute that currently forbids people from carrying concealed handguns on public school grounds – even if the holder has a permit.
It was killed after more than four hours of testimony, including some from the father of a boy killed in the Columbine shooting and a woman whose sister was killed in Newtown. Support for the measure came from the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Patrick Neville, who was a Columbine graduate.
Parents, teachers and lawyers both opposed and in favor of the bill also testified.
“I believe teachers should focus on teaching and nurturing children, not act as armed security,” said one of the Democrats who killed the bill, Rep. Susan Lontine, during the hearing.
The end result drew Rep. Neville’s ire.
“Allowing teachers the ability to protect students in a deadly situation…[is a] common-sense solution to modern-day threats, and I am disappointed Democrats continue to rejects these bills,” Neville said in a statement.
The Douglas County Schools Board of Education on Tuesday said it supported 1036.
Bill allowing businesses to use deadly force against criminal intruders dies
House Bill 1037 would have expanded state law that allows people in their own homes to use deadly force against a person under certain circumstances to owners, managers and employees of a business as well.
Under the law, those business employees would have been allowed to use physical or deadly force against a person who is believed to have committed a crime while uninvited inside the business, or against a person who is believed to have posed a threat of physical violence.
The indefinite postponement means those conditions will likely only remain in effect for homeowners.
One of the committee members, Rep. Edie Hooton, D-Boulder, said the bill allowed “any excuse to kill a human being just because you feel slightly threatened.”
One of several bills repealing large-capacity magazine ban killed
The committee also killed House Bill 1097, which is essentially a mirror to Senate Bill 7 and would eliminate a section of state law that bars “large-capacity magazines.”
Statute written in 2013 banned any weapon magazine that could hold more than 15 rounds of ammunition, and in the case of shotguns, any magazine that could hold more than 28 inches of shells. It also banned any magazine that could hold more than eight shotgun shells when combined with a fixed magazine.
The statute also banned the possession, sale or transfer of any large-capacity magazines after July 1, 2013, and required any person in possession of or manufacturer who was making such magazines at the time to have a stamp or marking noting it was made after that date.
The bill would have eliminated both portions of statute.
Senate Bill 7, which contains nearly identical language, has passed committee and its second floor reading. It has been debated in the Senate floor over the past several days.
Rep. Jovan Melton, D-Aurora, helped killed 1097. He represents the area that butts up to the Aurora theatre where James Holmes killed 12 and wounded around 70 other people in 2012.
“Increasing the number and firepower of guns in our society is not the solution,” said the committee’s chairman, Rep. Mike Foote, a Lafayette Democrat.
But Rep. Justin Everett, who sponsored 1037, was less than pleased.
“Democrats still don’t understand that it’s our job in the legislature to protect people’s rights, not take them away,” he said in a statement that followed the votes. “From Pueblo, to Colorado Springs to suburban Denver, citizens spoke, two Senators were recalled and one was forced to resign over the Second Amendment. Clearly, Democrats still aren’t listening to citizens.”
A handful of mirror bills remain active in both houses, and other gun-related bills do as well, including one that would extend concealed-carry rights to legal gun owners in Colorado.