DENVER – Democrats passed their five remaining gun bills through the Senate on Monday, a major milestone on the bills’ torturous journey through the Legislature.
Monday’s votes came after a daylong debate Friday that lasted until nearly midnight and that saw Democrats withdraw two of their most controversial bills.
The bills that died Friday would have banned concealed weapons on college campuses and imposed legal liability on the owners and sellers of many types of guns.
The surviving bills would require background checks on private-party gun sales, charge gun buyers for their background checks, mandate in-person training for concealed weapons permits, force some domestic violence suspects to give up their guns and ban ammunition magazines larger than 15 rounds.
Sen. Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, argued for her background-check bill, saying it will prevent criminals from getting guns.
“There is no way other than a background check to make sure those folks don’t access firearms,” Carroll said. “If we fail to close this loophole, we are saying that the difference between law-abiding citizens and criminals isn’t worth making.”
Republicans saved their strongest opposition for the bill banning larger ammunition magazines.
Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray, said he would break the law if it passes.
“I’m going to tell you right now: I will not obey this law,” Brophy said.
Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, said Republicans are not “right-wing wackos” for opposing the magazine limit because some gun owners fear civil unrest.
“I look at Syria today, I look at Egypt today – again, I don’t think it’s ‘lunatic fringe’ to have concerns about that,” Roberts said.
Also, people in rural areas are often far away from police protection, she said.
Throughout the debate, Republicans have charged Democrats with kowtowing to the White House and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a gun-control advocate.
“Please do not be confused that the goals and objectives of Barack Hussein Obama, of Joe Biden, of Michael Bloomberg, are the same goals and objectives of the majority of your constituents,” said Sen. Steve King, R-Grand Junction.
King made reference to a call that Biden made to Rep. Mike McLachlan, D-Durango, to lobby for several of the bills. Opponents are trying to recall McLachlan for his votes on gun control.
“I look forward to the vice president of the United States coming to Colorado and going to Durango to help the representative on his recall election. He owes him that,” King said.
The debate has put legislators through a trying month, sometimes with violent overtones.
Sen. Jessie Ulibarri, D-Commerce City, said he and other legislators have gotten death threats. One man told him he carried an AR-15 “to keep Mexicans out of Colorado.”
“In one breath, someone says, ‘I’m a law-abiding gun owner,’ and in the next says, ‘I really can’t wait until your child is raped,’” Ulibarri said. “It is very, very difficult for me to stand here and say this debate has been civil, or that there are folks who aren’t wishing me and my family harm using the tools and implements that we’re discussing today.”
Roberts became one of the first two Republicans to support any of the Democrats’ gun bills when she voted to require in-person training to get a concealed-weapons permit.
Most of the bills will have to go to the House for further votes before they pass the full Legislature.