Gun control laws still a hot topic in Colorado
January 23, 2014
Lori Saine isn't about to let last year's gun control laws take a back seat to new legislation in 2014.
The Republican state representative from Firestone said last year's laws passed by the Democratic majority in the House and Senate limiting magazine capacity to 15 rounds and requiring background checks for sales and transfers of firearms are not only violating Second Amendment rights, but have also taken away jobs from her district.
Magpul, a firearms and accessories designer and manufacturer based in Erie, recently announced that it's leaving Colorado because of the magazine limitations.
"I'll be sponsoring the repeal of the magazine ban. Magpul is in my district and they're moving to Texas and Wyoming," Saine said. "No limits on our Second Amendment rights. Two hundred jobs just in my district are exiting. It has a huge impact."
As for Democrats sponsoring new gun control bills in the 2014 legislative session, it looks like they'll be focusing instead on flood recovery, education and the economy.
Two Democrats — Senate President John Morse (Colorado Springs/Manitou Springs) and Sen. Angela Giron (Pueblo) — made national news when they were recalled last September for their push on gun control. State Sen. Evie Hudak, D-Westminster, resigned her seat in late November before gun-rights activists could recall her.
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HOUSE SPEAKER OPEN TO IDEAS
Colorado House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, said in a telephone interview before the new legislative session began on Jan. 8 that he's open to looking at past legislation regarding gun laws.
"I never say no. I'm always open to ideas that could make the bills better," Ferrandino said. "If there are tweaks, I'm always open to hearing ideas as long as they continue an effort of public safety."
Ferrandino said the law on background checks is working.
"We've already seen what the background checks do," Ferrandino said. "Over 70 people have been stopped in the first couple months of purchasing a firearm that they otherwise wouldn't have if they didn't go through the background checks, so we're seeing it work."
John Straayer, a Colorado political analyst and political science professor at Colorado State University, said he would be surprised if the Democrats sponsored any new gun control legislation in 2014. But never say never.
"It's always possible because any one of those 100 members can put in any bill they want whether their leadership and the rest of their party wants it or not," Straayer said. "If any of the members wanted to do so, they'd probably be discouraged by the leadership because there was a backlash against it. Unless you've got a member who just absolutely insists on pushing something, I don't think you're going to see it."
He added. "The Democrats got a good deal of what they wanted to do last year, and it is an election year. The timing just doesn't seem right for more."
COLORADO HOT SPOT
A recent story in USA Today said that groups on both sides of the gun law debate will be spending millions of dollars on candidates who agree with their positions and try to change or keep the current gun laws.
Colorado, Illinois and Washington were named as hot spots for these campaigns.
Straayer said it makes sense that people are looking at Colorado.
"I suppose we would attract more attention than many of the other states simply because it was a hot issue last year and you have the two recalls plus a resignation that were at least in part related to the gun laws," Straayer said. "The gun groups had some involvement in the recalls."
Catherine Mortensen, spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association based out of Fairfax, Va., said in a telephone interview Friday that Colorado is definitely on its radar.
"It is an important state. Right now the NRA's efforts in Colorado are fully focused on the 2014 legislative session," Mortensen said. "Last year's session was the most egregious and rights-infringing session in the history of Colorado, and the NRA is working tirelessly right now to not only repeal the draconian and politically motivated bills that are now law that were passed last year, but we're also working to advance the opportunities for law-abiding gun owners across the state."
She added, "Between now and May, we're going to be focused on what the lawmakers are doing there in Denver. It's going to take a tremendous amount of focus and work."
Mortensen said the NRA anticipates that it will endorse some candidates in the fall and devote financial resources toward candidates at the local, state and national levels.
"The NRA will consider all candidates who are pro-Second Amendment," Mortensen said.
STOPPING NEW LEGISLATION
Dudley Brown, executive vice president for the National Association for Gun Rights based out of Windsor, said the organization wants to stop any new gun control legislation in Colorado.
"Our top 2014 legislative priority is to stop any further gun controls the Democrats may be foolish enough to pursue," Brown said in an email interview Thursday.
As for attempting to repeal the magazine limit of 15 rounds and the background checks passed last session, Brown said: "We'll run the legislation, but Democrat leadership has already indicated it is DOA."
Brown, who is also the founder and executive director of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, said the Democrats are running scared because of the recalls.
"There's no question they are scared," Brown said. "Sen. Hudak resigning her seat to avoid a recall election is proof. Gun owners in Colorado aren't going to forget how politicians stripped them of their Second Amendment rights in 2013. And we'll remind them many, many times."
ATTENTION ON CANDIDATES
Brown said attention will be focused on certain political candidates.
"Our PAC has already begun to target the senators and representatives who passed the 2013 gun controls," Brown said. "And we'll give extra attention to its sponsors, like we did with former Sen. John Morse. In some cases, our PAC has already maxed out its contributions. For instance, former Sen. Tim Neville in Jefferson County is running for the top target seat in the Senate, and we've maxed to him."
Weld County Sheriff John Cooke, a gun rights advocate and Republican who is running for the District 13 state Senate seat against Democrat Joe Perez, said he doesn't see the Democrats introducing any more gun control bills in 2014.
"Those two recalls and when Hudak resigned I think sent shock waves through the entire country, not just Colorado," said Cooke, who led a group of Colorado sheriffs in suing the state last year saying the gun control laws violate Coloradans' constitutional rights. That lawsuit is still pending.
"That's why I think Republicans are going to put in bills to overturn them or to weaken them so that way we could get the Democrats on record and see how they vote on it this year."
Cooke said the backlash from the 2013 gun laws will continue.
"I think gun owners and hunters have a long memory, and they don't forget things," Cooke said. "Any of the races where a Democrat voted for the gun controls is going to be a hot topic."