Colorado Senate give final OK to gun control bills

By KRISTEN WYATT | March 11, 2013 | 4:30 PM EDT

Colorado State Senator Lucia Guzman, D-Denver, and her colleagues, vote yes on one of several gun control bills before the Colorado Legislature, at the State Capitol, in Denver, Monday March 11, 2013. Colorado Democrats are on the cusp of advancing gun-control proposals Friday in a state balancing a history of heartbreaking shootings with a Western heritage where gun ownership is treasured by many. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

DENVER (AP) — The Colorado Senate on Monday gave final approval to a series of gun restrictions including expanded background checks, as it tied gun control to mass shootings in the state and elsewhere.

The Democratic gun control package in Colorado is being watched nationally to see how a politically moderate state with a gun-loving past responds to the recent shootings in suburban Denver and in Newtown, Conn.

Democratic Senate Leader Morgan Carroll said lawmakers have no excuse after those mass shootings not to tighten gun rights. Her district includes the Aurora movie theater where 12 people were killed.

"If we fail to do a commonsense measure ... then shame on us," said Carroll, arguing for a bill to expand background checks to private and online gun sales.

Colorado senators were taking final votes Monday on five gun-control measures — including magazine ammunition limits and expanded background checks — that won initial approval Friday after more than 12 hours of debate. Three of the five bills had passed by midday.

Republicans tried in vain to stop the package, which also includes a gun ban for people accused of domestic violence crimes and a ban on online-only gun training for a concealed-carry permits.

Two proposals in the Democratic gun package were pulled last week because of lack of support. Those were a liability measure for gun owners and a concealed-weapons ban on college campuses.

Most of the bills now head to the House or return there because of Senate amendments. But the House is in Democratic hands, too, and already has signed off on the concepts behind most of the bills.

Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper has said he supports expanded background checks and magazine ammunition limits. But he hasn't indicated where he stands on the other measures.

Democratic Senate President John Morse said Monday he was proud that his caucus was promoting measures to reduce gun violence.

"We will make a difference and increase gun safety in Colorado and decrease gun violence," Morse said.

Republicans accused Democrats of jumping to restrict gun rights because all were horrified by the mass shootings.

"There is such a tragically strong desire, an ache, to do something," said Sen. Mark Scheffel, R-Parker.

However, Republicans seemed resigned to the remaining gun-control proposals heading to the governor's desk.

The only bill destined for the governor's desk Monday was a bill to revive fees for gun purchasers seeking background checks. Republicans opposed to the gun bills seemed doubtful they would derail any more than they already have.

"This arc is headed toward tyranny, and it is clear," warned Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud.


Kristen Wyatt can be reached at