DENVER — Fiercely debated ammunition limits cleared Colorado's Democratic Legislature on Wednesday and were on their way to the governor, who has said he'll sign the measure into law.
The 15-round magazine limit would make Colorado the first state outside the East Coast to ratchet back gun rights after last year's mass shootings.
Colorado's gun-control debates have been closely watched because of the state's gun-loving frontier heritage and painful history of mass shootings, most recently last summer's movie theater shooting that killed 12.
"I am sick and tired of the bloodshed," said Rep. Rhonda Fields, sponsor of the ammunition limit and a Democrat whose suburban Denver district includes the theater. "Whatever we can do to curb the gun violence and the bloodshed, we have a responsibility to do that."
Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper has said he is ambivalent about the magazine ammunition limit but will sign it. The law gives him 10 business days to do so.
"I wasn't enthusiastic about it, but I'd be willing to sign it," Hickenlooper said Wednesday morning on Denver radio station KOA.
Still pending in the Legislature is the Democrats' other signature gun-control bill, which would require background checks for private and online gun sales. Hickenlooper has more enthusiastically backed that measure, and it was scheduled for a final vote Wednesday.
But a dispute over a Senate amendment has delayed the background-check for at least another day while lawmakers iron out the problem. Democrats are trying to change the bill so that gun owners can give guns to relatives or lend them for short periods without triggering the background-check requirements.
The background-check measure is expected to clear the Legislature, and Republicans have spent hours fretting that rugged Colorado is forsaking its heritage by debating gun restrictions more common to coastal states.
To make the point, Republican Rep. Carole Murray of suburban Castle Rock reminded the House that rural lawmakers once posed for official photos wearing cowboy hats.
"Our state is changing," Murray said. "We are an outdoorsy state, and part of being outdoorsy is ownership of firearms."
Democrats repeatedly cited the Aurora theater shooting and last year's massacre at a Connecticut school as reasons Colorado must take action.
"How many more mass shootings in schools and movie theaters do we have to see before we make changes?" asked Rep. Crisanta Duran, D-Denver.
Two bills in the gun package have not yet faced votes in the House and were just starting consideration Wednesday. Those measures included a ban on online-only gun education required to receive a concealed-weapons permit, and a ban on gun ownership by people facing domestic violence charges.
The fifth and final bill in the Democrats' gun package went to the governor earlier this week. That measure would revive user fees, likely $10, for gun buyers who need background checks. Currently the Colorado Bureau of Investigation does those checks for free and faces a lengthy backlog.
The governor has two business weeks to sign the fee bill, or it becomes law without his signature. Hickenlooper has said he'll sign it.
Kristen Wyatt can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/APkristenwyatt
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.