In the wake of the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., guns have been pushed to the forefront of American policy.
Congressional committees have held a number of hearings on the issue, with several members of Congress introducing gun control bills. Pres. Barack Obama signed 23 executive orders on stricter gun control after Vice President Joe Biden led talks on the subject. Legislators in a number of states, including Louisiana, Kentucky, and Maryland, have introduced legislation; New York recently became the first state in the nation to pass successful gun control measures.
Lobbyists and policymakers—both for and against gun reform at the national, state and local levels—have been hard at work, and Colorado is no exception.
Gun law, arguably the most hot-button, partisan issue of the day, has made its way into the Colorado General Assembly and governor’s office.
Legislators on both sides of the aisle have already begun pushing their policy ideas. Those ideas—almost always aligned with strict party lines—include firearms restrictions for Democrats; for Republicans, they take the form of expanding the latitude of businesses, teachers, and others to possess guns.
Last week, a committee in the Colorado Senate—along party lines—rejected a proposed Republican bill that would have required businesses that ban guns on their property to employ security personnel.
The Democrat-led Assembly also voted down a Republican bill that would allow many school employees to carry concealed weapons.
In a trend that has taken hold among conservative state lawmakers in the past few years, a proposal was also introduced that purported to void any federal restrictions on firearms in Colorado by making it a state crime for a federal agent to enforce them.
The Centennial State, of course, has greater ties to gun violence than many because of the summer 2012 shooting in Aurora and the Columbine shooting in the late ‘90s.
Democrats, who control both chambers of the legislature and the governorship, hope to reinstate restrictions that were removed in the early 2000s. Some restrictions, most of which are also being explored at the federal level and in other jurisdictions, include universal background checks for those purchasing firearms, a ban on certain high-capacity magazines, and an increase in funding for mental health education and support.
The Legislature is not the only place in state government where guns have become a focus, though. On Friday, David Keene, the nominal head of the National Rifle Association, will meet with Gov. John Hickenlooper.
The governor, who has been less enthusiastic about massive gun reform than many of those in his party in the Legislature, strongly endorsed universal background checks in his recent State of the State address.
Gallup polls show that 91 percent of Americans support universal criminal background checks. Other gun control proposals have received varying amounts of public endorsement, the lowest being 54 percent support for limiting magazine size.
To date, the General Assembly has passed no laws endorsing either side of the debate.