COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., February 8, 2015—As promised in the fall campaign, Republican legislators in Denver have introduced a number of bills in both houses of the legislature to roll back the unconstitutional assault on Second Amendment rights that the Democrats rammed through in 2013. Republicans only have a majority in the senate, so progress is mixed.
The 2013 bills were pushed through in a highly-coordinated fashion with minimal debate at blistering speed and signed by Gov. Hickenlooper, who has since told Colorado sheriffs that he didn’t read the bills and that signing them was a mistake. The bills limited magazine size to 15 rounds, required more background checks under more circumstances and set new fees.
Besides being unconstitutional, the magazine ban is quite unenforceable and Colorado sheriffs went to federal court to get the law overturned. The judge dismissed the suit, saying the sheriffs didn’t have standing.
On the expanded, criminal background checks, El Paso County District Attorney Dan May said the bill is written so badly that a person could be required to submit himself to a background check. (What happens if you decide you’ve failed your own background check?)
This week, Democrats—who still control the House—killed all four Republican House bills in committee. The designated “kill committee” is the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee—which tells you how the Democrats feel about veterans. The Vice-Chairman of the committee is Joe Salazar—the same Joe Salazar who in 2013 became infamous for telling college women that they didn’t need concealed carry permits on campus—all they needed was a whistle. Sources say Salazar was strangely silent during the committee hearings this time.
In the Senate, where Republicans hold a one-seat majority, the fate of pro-gun legislation is brighter.
Senate Bill 175 seeks to repeal the magazine ban and has already received 16 cosponsors—a bipartisan group of both senators and representatives. Sponsors include Sen. John Cooke, who in 2013 was a sheriff leading opposition to the ban.
Sponsoring repeal legislation in not the only way Republicans are fighting back.
In the Colorado legislature, all funding must go through a Joint Budget Committee (JBC). That committee is now headed by Sen. Kent Lambert, a seasoned veteran of the process. When a supplemental funding bill for the Department of Public Safety came through, a request from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for $300,000 dollars to hire more people was rejected. The CBI claimed it would speed up the background check process, claiming a delay of about 56 days to turn around a background check for concealed carry permits.
In reality, however, permits take 30 days in Jefferson County, 21-28 days in Douglas County and 2-3 days in Weld County. Democrats tried to re-insert the money on Thursday but were rebuffed. It seems they only want to support gun rights when it involves creating more government jobs and spending more taxpayer money.
Controlling appropriations for unconstitutional programs is an effective way to kill them. The JBC has denied additional funding for the illegal aliens driver’s license program as well. Republicans in the U.S. Congress could take a lesson from Colorado.
So while promising bills like Senator Lambert’s “Repeal Gun Transfer Background Check Requirement & Fee” and Senator Marble’s “Lift Restrictions on Carrying of Firearms” passed the Senate, they face an uncertain future in the House.
If pro-rights bills pass the legislature, will Gov. Hickenlooper stand by what he told the sheriffs and sign the bills?
Time will tell—but don’t hold your breath.