Background checks clears Legislature

Gun bill on its way to Hickenlooper

DENVER – Another gun bill has passed the state Legislature and is on its way to Gov. John Hickenlooper.

House Bill 1229, which cleared both the Senate and House on Friday, requires background checks for all gun sales, even among private parties. It was on track to pass Wednesday, but Republicans pointed out a problem with legalities regarding guns purchased by family-owned companies.

Sponsors fixed the problem, although opponents still argued the bill could expose well-meaning people to prosecution for sharing their guns with friends and family.

“It won’t help anything, and it makes common, everyday actions amongst friends and neighbors something that’s now illegal in Colorado,” said Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray.

But Democrats pointed out that existing background checks flag thousands of people a year who try to buy guns but aren’t allowed, because of their histories with crime, drug abuse or mental illness.

“It’s a common-sense, well-supported solution to this problem of so many guns in the hands of people who should not have them,” said one of the sponsors, Rep. Beth McCann, D-Denver.

Recent polls show a majority of Coloradans support the idea, and the bill was the only piece of gun legislation that Hickenlooper singled out in his State of the State speech in January for explicit support.

In a sign of how charged the gun issue is at the Capitol, debates on the final, technical changes took all morning Friday in the Senate and all afternoon in the House.

Rep. Mike McLachlan, D-Durango, voted for the bill. Just one Democrat, Rep. Ed Vigil of Fort Garland, joined Republicans on the losing end of a 36-27 vote.

It is the third gun bill to land on Hickenlooper’s desk. Two more are still working their way through the House after passing the Senate.