Eight bills intended to address gun control and mental health were introduced in the Colorado state Capitol during a press conference Tuesday, against a backdrop of gun violence survivors from Aurora, Columbine and the Sandy Hook massacres.
Democrats announced a series of gun control bills that would put in place universal background checks, new requirements for mental health professionals to inform authorities about patients who shouldn't have guns and a ban on high-capacity magazines but did not call for an outright ban on assault weapons. However a controversial measure would make sellers and even manufacturers liable for damage inflicted by those firearms, called the Assault Weapon Responsibility Act.
"This will not ban (assault weapons) but it will hold everyone in the chain responsible for what happens with that weapon," Senate President John Morse, D-Colorado Springs said. "My hope is that it will finally bring an end to mass shootings and serve as a model of how other state's might deal with gun violence."
That call could conflict with federal law however, according to a report by The Denver Post.
"The purpose of the (Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms) act is to prevent firearms manufacturers and dealers from being held liable for crimes committed with their products," David Kopel, a University of Denver law professor and a researcher at the libertarian-conservative Independence Institute said.
“I know going to be fighting very, very hard to make sure that we get something done,” said Rep. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora.
Gov. John Hickenlooper, who expressed support for universal background checks and an "overhaul" of the state's mental health system in his State of the State address, was not in attendance Tuesday, though his office said they'd issue a statement later.
Last month polling found that 55 percent of Colorado voters said they'd favor stricter gun control and 95 percent of voters agreed that those with "serious mental health problems" ought to be kept from buying a gun.
However 2012 was a record-breaking year for background checks in Colorado with the AR-15, a military-style assault weapon that was used in the Sandy Hook shooting as well as in the Aurora shooting, virtually selling out in Colorado gun shops.
"The legislation we introduce today will not bring all gun violence in Colorado to a halt, but it will reduce gun violence," said House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver.