A bill that would prohibit a person who has been convicted of domestic violence or is the subject of a restraining order from possessing a firearm passed in Colorado Senate committee Monday afternoon.
After hours of emotional testimony, The Senate Judiciary Committee passed Senate Bill 197 on a party line 3-2 vote. SB-197 was the first bill to pass out of seven that are currently being heard and debated in the state legislature today. Read the full text of SB-197 here.
“This bill is more than a 'feel-good'," bill sponsor Sen. Evie Hudak said in response to statements from opponents of the bill, Fox31 reports. "I will feel good when fewer people die."
Colorado, home to two of the bloodiest mass shootings in American history -- the Columbine High School massacre in 1999 and the Aurora movie theater shooting in 2012 -- has recently taken the lead in the debate over gun control.
The state Capitol was flooded with both gun rights supporters and gun control advocates Monday while lawmakers listened to hours of testimony. Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Gifford's husband, Mark Kelly, testified in support of gun control in Colorado, urging lawmakers to pass the universal background checks bill -- House Bill 1229 -- which is being heard in the legislature today.
"When dangerous people get guns, we are all vulnerable," Kelly said, The Associated Press reports. Kelly also said that he and his wife, who was seriously wounded in a 2011 mass shooting in Tucson, Ariz., support the Second Amendment but believe that that right should not extend to the mentally ill or to criminals.
Although hundreds of gun rights advocates descended onto the state Capitol today as many others honked their horns as they drove by, recent polling from Project New America/Chris Keating and The Denver Post found that a majority of Coloradans' favor stricter gun control.
Fox31 first reported on a survey from PNA/Chris Keating which asked 905 Colorado voters, in general, if they favor stricter gun control -- 55 percent of Colorado voters said they favor of stricter gun control, while only 40 percent were opposed.
The same poll also asked Colorado voters about specific gun law proposals and the margin of support was wide for nearly all the measures in question, according to PNA/Chris Keating:
- 95 percent of voters agree that people with "serious mental health problems" should be prevented from owning a gun.
- 80 percent of voters agree that judges should be able to order someone who is "convicted of domestic violence or given a restraining order" to surrender their guns to the court.
- 80 percent of voters agree that all private gun sales should go through a licensed dealer and be subject to a background check.
- 65 percent of voters agree that guns should be banned on college and university campuses.
- 61 percent of voters agree that the sale and possession of semi-automatic guns and assault rifles should be banned.
- 61 percent of voters agree that the sale and possession of high-capacity ammunition clips, which allow some guns to shoot more than 10 bullets before reloading, should be banned.
The PNA/Keating poll echoes similar sentiments found in a recent Denver Post poll which found greater support for gun control measures than for gun-owner rights. According to The Denver Post, 60 percent of Colorado voters support proposals that would: ban assault-style rifles, limit high-capacity magazines and require universal background checks on all gun sales.
Although the Post poll found that 50 percent of those who responded say it is more important to protect gun ownership to 45 percent who say it is more important to control gun ownership, those percentages have shifted significantly since the last time the Post conducted the same poll in September. Last September, the breakdown was 56 percent saying it was more important to protect gun rights to only 39 percent saying it was more important to control guns.
A Look At Colorado's Gun Control Bills
Senate Bill 195: Makes concealed-carry permit holders complete training class in person, rather than online.
Senate Bill 196: Makes manufacturers, owners civilly liable for damages if their weapon is used in crime.
Senate Bill 197: Prevents persons who have committed domestic violence from possessing firearms.
House Bill 1224: Bans high-capacity magazines limiting them to 15 rounds per magazine.
House Bill 1226: Bans concealed-carry permit holders from possessing a firearm on college campuses.
House Bill 1228: Requires gun buyers to pay for costs of background check.
House Bill 1229: Requires background checks on all gun transfers.
Clarification: SB-197 prohibits only those convicted of a felony involving domestic violence or certain misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence that qualify under the firearms prohibitions of the federal law (Domestic Violence Misdemeanor Gun Ban in the Gun Control Act of 1968) or those subject to certain protection orders that qualify under the firearms prohibitions of the federal law (Protective Order Gun Ban in the Gun Control Act of 1968), not just any domestic violence offender.