03/08/2013 04:16 pm ET

Ban On Guns For Domestic Violence Offenders Bill Gets Initial Approval In Colorado Senate

A bill banning convicted domestic violence offenders from possessing firearms won initial approval from lawmakers in the Colorado Senate Friday.

SB-197 prohibits gun possession from only those convicted of certain felonies involving domestic violence or certain misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence that qualify under the firearms prohibitions of the federal law. It would also prohibit guns from individuals subject to certain protection orders that qualify under the firearms prohibitions of the federal law from possessing guns. Courts would then order those persons to relinquish their guns within 24 hours although that order could be extended to 72 hours by a judge. After a protection order has been lifted, the person could get their gun rights back.

The Denver Post reports that 13 people were shot and killed by domestic violence offenders in 2011, deaths that may have been stopped with a law like this.

The initial approval came via voice vote and a final recorded vote is expected to come early next week.

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 reported earlier this week when the bill passed Senate committee. "I will feel good when fewer people die."

Colorado Democrats began the morning pushing seven bold, new gun control bills, but at least one of those looks to be in jeopardy. The Denver Post reports that a bill that would ban the use of concealed weapons on college campuses might be killed by the sponsor, Sen. Rollie Heath (D-Boulder).

The stakes are high in Colorado and The Associated Press described the tense mood on the Capitol on this day of marathon hearings:

DENVER — Standing firm on new firearm restrictions, Colorado Democrats are on the cusp of advancing aggressive gun-control proposals Friday in a state balancing a history of heartbreaking shootings with a Western heritage where gun ownership is treasured by many.

The debate playing out in Colorado is being watched closely because its moderate political makeup makes it a testing ground to see how far the nation is willing to go with new gun laws in the wake of mass shootings in a suburban Denver movie theater and a Connecticut elementary school. Already the White House has weighed in, with Vice President Joe Biden phoning four lawmakers while on a recent ski vacation here to nudge the Democrats during their first major gun debate last month.

Democratic lawmakers pushing for the stricter measures, including more background checks and limits on the size of ammunition magazines, are facing powerful opposition from gun-rights advocates. They flooded the state Capitol by the thousands earlier this week, waving "Don't Tread On Me" flags and blaring car horns as they circled the block while bills were being considered in committees. Some Democrats have reported getting threatening emails and phone calls.

The stakes got higher Friday, when the Senate started taking up seven Democratic gun-control measures in a marathon debate expected to last late into the night. Democrats hold a 20-15 advantage in the chamber, meaning they have a narrow margin to pass the bills. Republicans need only three Democrats to vote no to defeat a bill, and two Democrats have already expressed opposition to some of the measures.

Although many Republican lawmakers and gun rights supporters have voiced opposition to the gun bills, 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.



Pivotal Moments In The Federal Gun Control Debate