Three bills to expand gun rights hit the 2016 Colorado legislature

Republican Sen. Tim Neville, who is running for U.S. Senate this year, is a sponsor on the three gun measures

Three bills to expand gun rights hit the 2016 Colorado legislature
Colorado has a long history of wrangling over gun rights. This legislative session will be no exception.

 

Lawmakers in Colorado, including one state Senator who’s running for the U.S. Senate, have introduced at least three measures to expand gun rights so far this legislative session.

One of the bills, unsurprisingly, is aimed at rolling back a 2013 package of legislation that limited to 15 the amount of bullets a gun magazine could hold in Colorado. One of the Senate sponsors is Tim Neville of Jefferson County who is running in the crowded GOP primary field for U.S. Senate this year. The bill is pretty simple: It repeals the 2013 law, and “declares that this act is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, and safety.”

Another bill, also sponsored by Neville and others, would extend to the workplace the state’s ‘Make My Day’ law, which allows Coloradans to use deadly force against intruders in their own homes under certain circumstances. This new law would allow the same ability to “owners, managers, and employees of businesses.”

A third measure would scrap the permitting requirements for carrying a concealed weapon in Colorado. Currently, lawful handgun owners must apply for a concealed weapons permit through their county sheriff who has the discretion to issue, deny, or revoke them.

Here’s more on that bill:

A person who carries a concealed handgun under the authority created in the bill has the same carrying rights and is subject to the same limitations that apply to a person who holds a permit to carry a concealed handgun under current law, including the prohibition on the carrying of a concealed handgun on the grounds of a public elementary, middle, junior high, or high school.

Following a the 2012 gun massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, states across the nation actually expanded gun rights, “embracing,” as The Associated Press reported, “the National Rifle Association’s axiom that more ‘good guys with guns’ are needed to deter mass shootings.”

Some of that expansion came with bipartisan support from lawmakers in at least one red state during the 2014 election cycle.

In South Carolina, for instance, the Democratic nominee for governor joined with the House Democratic Minority Leader in a Republican-controlled legislature to pass new laws that stripped a mandatory eight-hour permitting requirement for carrying a concealed weapon, and also allowed permit holders to carry their weapons into bars and restaurants, as long as they didn’t drink and there was no sign prohibiting them from packing. One lawmaker said the law passed so quickly because of the “national conversation” about firearms and a push from Washington, D.C. to restrict gun rights.

Here in Colorado, the opposite happened after Sandy Hook. Lawmakers in a legislature controlled by Democrats passed laws that banned high-capacity gun magazines, and required universal background checks for all gun sales and transfers inside the state’s borders, which went further than federal law.

That year, a majority of county sheriffs in Colorado joined with gun shop owners and shooting range operators to sue Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, claiming the new laws were unconstitutional. A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit in June. Some sheriffs said they wouldn’t enforce the new laws.

In Colorado, “Universal background checks stopped some 6,590 people in Colorado from buying guns last year and also resulted in the arrests of 227 fugitives,” reported KOAA News5 in Colorado Springs. The most common reason a potential gun buyer was denied a firearm in November, the station reported, was for a conviction, assault, or arrest.

The bill dealing with concealed weapons permits, sometimes called Constitutional Carry, wouldn’t shut down all the concealed handgun permitting programs in each of Colorado’s 64 counties. If passed, the bill would allow lawful gun owners here to carry concealed firearms without a permit within the state, but they’d still need a permit from Colorado if they wanted to carry a firearm in more than 30 other states outside Colorado’s borders.

Asked where the County Sheriff’s of Colorado membership organization stood on the bill, the group’s director, retired sheriff Chris Johnson, was pretty clear.

“Support. Support. Support. Support. Support. Support,” he said. “The sheriffs support constitutional carry. Period.”

Johnson says his organization supports all three bills introduced so far this year, though he doesn’t think they’re likely to actually go anywhere. Once they hit the Democratically controlled House, he predicts, they’ll likely be killed.

This year Republicans control the Senate, and Democrats control the House.

The gun bills have been assigned to the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committees in each chamber where they’ll eventually get a hearing. In the House, Dean Toda, a spokesman for the caucus that controls power there, didn’t expect efforts to roll back the state’s gun laws to prevail.

“Every year they fail,” he said. “I don’t see that this year will be any different.”

Gun violence and gun safety issues have been front and center in the Democratic race for president, featuring heavily in the last debate between Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley, which was hosted in Charleston, South Carolina. Earlier, in October, O’Malley had travelled to Boulder where he crashed the GOP presidential debate held there so he could talk about gun violence.

Neville declined through a spokesman to comment for this story.

 

Photo credit: Ken via Flickr

 

 

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About the Author

Corey Hutchins

is a journalist in Colorado, and Columbia Journalism Review's Rocky Mountain correspondent for the United States Project.

12 Comments

  1. tom sabel on said:

    i don’t understand why the sheriffs are not for more gun control. can someone enlighten me as to why people who put their lives on the line everyday would not support a bill that could help save lives?

  2. Kyle on said:

    tom sabel, the reason sheriffs don’t support gun control is that they understand citizens are the first line of defense. In a crisis situation, citizens can respond before law enforcement arrives. The sheriffs understand that gun control only makes it harder for people to defend themselves, and increases the risks and danger. Being defenseless doesn’t make people safer.

  3. Josh on said:

    I’m surprised by that too, Tom, but for different reasons. I would think that the sheriff’s office would want to know about the potential presence of a weapon during roadside stops. As a CCP holder, the one time I was asked about a weapon during a traffic stop, I told the officer that I was carrying, at which point he (politely) asked me to keep my hands in plain view. It’s curious to me that he took extra precautions when I readily admitted that I was carrying, but that his peers would not object to an environment where anyone could be armed at any time without any indication (however unreliable) whatsoever. Of course it could reasonably be argued that anyone who is a threat to officers likely doesn’t care whether they are carrying legally or not, and is probably not going to admit they are carrying. My guess is that it is already assumed by cops that everyone is a potential threat, and that allowing non-permitted CC would only be meaningful for those who already abide by laws. Personally, I feel that CCW classes are largely useless *except* for the fact that they indicate that those applying for permits are willing to go through the process necessary to carry legally, and is an indication that they have seriously considered the matter. I grew up around guns and have always been fascinated by them. Having said that, the idea that under the proposed legislation “Timmy temper-tantrum” could stuff his gun in his pants on a whim because he’s feeling extra cowboy-ish one day, concerns me a bit. My feeling is that if you want to carry, you should take it seriously enough to patiently go through the necessary steps to do so.

  4. Rob on said:

    Tom, a couple of reasons are that 62 of the 64 CO sheriff’s are elected by the residents of their county. The 2nd reason is that their oath is to uphold the Constitution.

    Those I have met are very constitutionally minded.

    The other two sheriffs are politically appointed and therefore take on the stench of their mayor.

  5. John on said:

    Tom, the sheriffs understand that these laws that have been created have had no affect on crime. Some are completely unenforceable like the 15 round capacity mag ban which officers cannot prove whether someone owned a mag pre-ban.These laws only affect the law abiding citizens.

  6. Fitz on said:

    The Make My Day law also needs to specify/clarify this does NOT and should NOT allow incarcerated offenders to use the Make My Day law when they murder another offender in their cell as they did in Logan County!!! That is down right RIDICULOUS!!!

  7. ev guy on said:

    The article states: “Currently, lawful handgun owners must apply for a concealed weapons permit through their county sheriff who has the discretion to issue, deny, or revoke them.”

    This is NOT true. Colorado is a SHALL issue state, the sheriff does not have discretion to not issue unless the applicant is a prohibited person.

  8. Will Morrison on said:

    JUST what we need, MORE guns! And more places that we can carry guns! And more reasons for someone to shoot you in the street and claim justification! Yes, sir, that JUST what we need, more death and destruction! More dead children and family members! More fights over NOTHING that escallate into deadly shootings! More stupid fools without the emotional stability to deal with reality being armed to the teeth and innocent people being caught in the crossfire!

    Yes, sir, we sure want to look just like TEXAS, don’t we? Because they are doing ALL these things, and they sure are a model of what we want to live with, aren’t they?

    Could we PLEASE elect people to office who AREN’T freaking gun nuts? Crime is DOWN to a decades long low, and yet we STILL have to arm ourselves to the teeth. I guess having a black president is just more than some people can handle. What a shame we elect those people to office.

  9. John on said:

    Wow Will, until your response everyone had been calm and their thoughts expressed with either factual backup or posed as a question. I guess the radical response you show is why people feel threatened on a daily basis and our constitutional right to protect ourselves must stay in place. I for one hope I never have to use deadly force to protect my family but with people losing their cool all the time it sure doesn’t hurt to be able to now does it. The fact is if someone thinks they might meet resistance they are less likely to try to harm you. Do some research before you run off at the mouth.

  10. Crz on said:

    Will, yer an idiot
    Have you even for one micro second stopped and accessed the REASON that crime is down?
    Pull yer head out or move back to Kilicazacistanfornia
    Josh, I have carried consistantly for over 45 years and never been asked for a permit
    I don’t have one so my name is not on a list, yours is.
    Everything inside your vehicle is private property so you can carry without one of your govt’ issued ‘permits’
    They knew you were carrying because you ‘registered’ within a ‘state sponsered and approved’ class allowing the ‘govt’ to register you as a steeple that gave us info on you. Not bustin yer ass bud, but READ the friggin state statues before headin into somethin!!
    No cop has ever asked for my ‘permit’
    I have 14 good friends who are cop’s including the sherif of my county.
    Please read the constitution
    WE are the one’s who employ these idiot’ s wrighting our laws. WE are responcible for letting them get away with what they do

  11. Colorado OathKeeper on said:

    John and CRZ, I wouldn’t waste much time on Will he is probably a troll for the establishment anyway. Everyone with any intelligence knows that cities with gun bans have higher crime rates,the FBI’s own statistics prove that. The Constitution requires everyone to be armed to protect their liberties and to overthrow a corrupt government when it can not be peaceably brought back into line.

  12. Red Rose on said:

    I think this is dume he\she should not becume stat seniter. he\she should not expand gun rights!!!!! should he\she?

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