DENVER — Limits on the size of ammunition magazines and universal background checks passed the Colorado House on Monday, during a second day of emotional debates that has drawn attention from the White House as lawmakers try to address recent mass shootings.
The bills were among four that the Democratic-controlled House passed amid strong resistance from Republicans, who were joined by a few Democrats to make some of the votes close.
The proposed ammunition restrictions limit magazines to 15 rounds for firearms, and eight for shotguns. Three Democrats joined all Republicans voting no on the bill, but the proposal passed 34-31.
"Enough is enough. I'm sick and tired of bloodshed," said Democratic Rep. Rhonda Fields, a sponsor of the bill and representative of the district where the shootings at an Aurora theater happened last summer. Fields' son was also fatally shot in 2005.
Republicans argued that the proposals restrict Second Amendment rights and won't prevent mass shootings like the ones in Aurora and a Connecticut elementary school.
"This bill will never keep evil people from doing evil things," said Republican Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg.
The House also approved a bill requiring background checks on all gun purchases, including those between private sellers and firearms bought online.
Other proposals would ban concealed firearms at colleges and stadiums, and another requires that gun purchasers pay for their own background checks. Democrats eked out the closest vote on the background check measure, which passed on a 33-32 vote.
Democratic Rep. Ed Vigil, who represents rural southern Colorado, voted against the four bills, saying his decision was rooted in the state's rugged history.
"This is part of our heritage. This is part of what it took to settle this land. I cannot turn my back on that," he said.
But even though a few Democrats joined Republicans in voting no for the bills, the Democrats' 37-28 advantage in the House gave them enough leeway.
The Senate still needs to consider the proposals. Democrats will need to be more unified in their support there because their advantage is only 20-15. That means Republicans need only three Democrats to join them to defeat the bills.
House lawmakers began debating the bills Friday. Lawmakers debated for 12 hours before giving initial approval to the bills, setting up the final recorded votes Monday. During the debate Friday, Vice President Joe Biden called four Democrats, including two in moderate districts, to solidify support for the measures.
Democratic Rep. Dominick Moreno, who represents a district in suburban Denver, was among the four lawmakers. He said Biden "emphasized the importance of Colorado's role in shaping national policy around this issue."
Castle Rock Republican Rep. Carole Murray brought up Biden's calls during Monday's debate, saying she didn't appreciate "East-coast politicians" trying to influence Colorado legislators.
Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper supports the expanded background checks, and thinks gun buyers should pay for them. He also said he may support limits on the size of magazines, if lawmakers agree to a number between 15 and 20. He said he hasn't decided whether to support banning concealed firearms on campuses and stadiums.
Republicans say students should have the right to defend themselves.
"Do not disarm our young adults in general and our young women in particular on our college campuses in the name of a gun-free zone," Republican Rep. Jim Wilson said.
The gun debate highlights a fundamental philosophical difference between many Democrats and Republicans.
"I resent the implication that unless we all arm ourselves we will not be adequately protected," said Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, the Democrats' leader in the House.
Republican Rep. Christ Holbert became emotional while explaining his opposition to the bills. He said he understood Fields cares about the bills, because of her district and because her son was shot and killed in 2005.
"But I care passionately about the United States Constitution and the constitution of this state, and the oath that we have taken," Holbert said.
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1981: The Attempted Assassination Of President Ronald Reagan
on March 30, 1981, President Reagan and three others were shot and wounded in an assassination attempt by John Hinckley, Jr. outside the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C. Reagan's press secretary, Jim Brady, was shot in the head.
1993: The Brady Handgun Violence Act
The Brady Handgun Violence Act of 1993, signed into law by President Bill Clinton, mandated that federally licensed dealers complete comprehensive background checks on individuals before selling them a gun. The legislation was named for James Brady, who was shot during an attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan in 1981.
1994: The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act
The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1994, instituted a ban on 19 kinds of assault weapons, including Uzis and AK-47s. The crime bill also banned the possession of magazines holding more than ten rounds of ammunition. (An exemption was made for weapons and magazines manufactured prior to the ban.)
2004: Law Banning Magazines Holding More Than Ten Rounds Of Ammunition Expires
In 2004, ten years after it first became law, Congress allowed a provision banning possession of magazines holding more than ten rounds of ammunition to expire through a sunset provision. Brady Campaign President Paul Helmke told HuffPost that the expiration of this provision meant that Rep. Gabby Giffords's alleged shooter was able to fire off 20-plus shots without reloading (under the former law he would have had only ten).
2007: The U.S. Court of Appeals For The District Of Columbia Rules In Favor Of Dick Heller
In 2007 The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled to allow Dick Heller, a licensed District police officer, to keep a handgun in his home in Washington, D.C. Following that ruling, the defendants petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.
2008: The NICS Improvement Amendments Act
Following the deadly shooting at Virginia Tech University, Congress passed legislation to require states provide data on mentally unsound individuals to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, with the aim of halting gun purchases by the mentally ill, and others prohibited from possessing firearms. The bill was signed into law by President George W. Bush in January of 2008.
2008: Supreme Court Strikes Down D.C. Handgun Ban As Unconstitutional
In June of 2008, the United States Supreme Court upheld the verdict of a lower court ruling the D.C. handgun ban unconstitutional in the landmark case <em>District of Columbia v. Heller</em>.
Gabrielle Giffords And Trayvon Martin Shootings
Gun control advocates had high hopes that reform efforts would have increased momentum in the wake of two tragic events that rocked the nation. In January of 2011, Jared Loughner opened fire at an event held by Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), killing six and injuring 13, including the congresswoman. Resulting attempts to push gun control legislation <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/09/trayvon-martin-shooting-gun-debate_n_1413115.html" target="_hplink">proved fruitless</a>, with neither proposal even succeeding in gaining a single GOP co-sponsor. More than a year after that shooting, Florida teenager Trayvon Martin was <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/trayvon-martin" target="_hplink">gunned down</a> by George Zimmerman in an event that some believed would bring increased scrutiny on the nation's Stand Your Ground laws. While there has been increasing discussion over the nature of those statutes, lawmakers were <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/09/trayvon-martin-shooting-gun-debate_n_1413115.html" target="_hplink">quick to concede</a> that they had little faith the event would effectively spur gun control legislation, thanks largely to the National Rifle Association's vast lobbying power. Read more <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/09/trayvon-martin-shooting-gun-debate_n_1413115.html" target="_hplink">here</a>:
Colorado Movie Theater Shooting
In July of 2012, a heavily armed gunman <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/20/aurora-shooting-movie-theater-batman_n_1688547.html" target="_hplink">opened fire on theatergoers</a> attending a midnight premiere of the final film of the latest Batman trilogy, killing 12 and wounding scores more. The suspect, James Eagan Holmes, allegedly carried out the act with a number of handguns, as well as an AR-15 assault rifle with a 100-round drum magazine. Some lawmakers used the incident, which took place in a state with some of the laxest gun control laws, to bring forth legislation designed to place increased regulations on access to such weapons, but many observers, citing previous experience, were <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/20/batman-shooting_n_1690547.html" target="_hplink">hesitant to say</a> that they would be able to overcome the power of the National Rifle Association and Washington gun lobby.
Sikh Temple Shooting
On August 5, 2012, white supremacist Wade Michael Page opened fire on a Sikhs gathered at a temple in Oak Creek, Wis., killing six and wounding four more before turning the gun on himself.