After dominating last year’s legislative session, state lawmakers are once again beginning to debate the issue of guns. Republicans are taking the lead this time around, trying to repeal many Democratic bills including stepped up background checks.
The background check law was part of a larger package of gun control bills Democrats passed in the wake of the Aurora Theater shooting and shooting in Newtown Connecticut. Republicans say Democrats overreached.
"I think this is an opportunity to take a step back, look at these issues,” said Representative Mark Waller (R-Colorado Springs). “Don’t just shove them through the legislature without any due consideration and we can actually work to a reasonable solution.”
Republicans also want to roll back a ban on high capacity magazines of more than 15 rounds, and the fees paid for background checks.
“Obviously last year turned out to be such a major fiasco for them, especially with the recalls of Giron and Morse” said Waller.
He’s referring to former Senate President John Morse and Senator Angela Giron. Both were recalled from office over their support for tougher gun legislation. A third senator resigned her seat. Democrats say it’s not productive to relive the whole gun debate.
“We’re not going to pass bad policy,” Speaker of the House Mark Ferrandino. “Our focus is moving forward and not rehashing the fights of the past and getting into this Washington style dysfunction. You know all of these bills that are proposed will have a fair hearing and they’ll live or die in committee on their merits,” said Ferrandino.
Most are likely to be defeated – since Republicans are in the minority in both chambers. Senator and gubernatorial candidate Greg Brophy of Wray says the GOP still wants the public to know that they’re trying to defend 2nd amendment rights.
“And one thing has changed. We now have three new members of the Colorado state senate and we lost some of these votes last year by one vote so we arguably have the votes to repeal,” said Brophy.
The first Republican bill to repeal universal background checks for gun purchases is about to get its initial hearing at the Capitol. Representative Rhonda Fields (D-Aurora) sponsored the measure. She says all the gun bills are working and there’s no need to repeal existing law.
“Why would someone want to take away a tool that takes guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals that just boggles me,” said Fields. “I think they need to be forward thinking instead of looking at stuff that’s already been signed into law. “
Lawmakers in both parties acknowledge the gun debate this year will be much less intense. They say it’s likely to play out more in November at the ballot box.