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Colorado House Passes Bill That Bans The Sale of So-called “Assault Weapons”

Colorado House Passes Bill That Bans The Sale of So called Assault Weapons
Image Credit: United Liberty

In a move with national implications, the Colorado House of Representatives passed a bill on April 14th, 2024, that would effectively ban the sale, manufacture, and transfer of a wide range of semi-automatic firearms classified as “assault weapons.” The legislation, House Bill 1292, received a narrow 35-27 vote along party lines, except nine Democrats who joined all Republicans in opposition. Here’s the full story.

The Partisan Divide

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Image Credit: United Liberty

This historic vote marks a significant step in Colorado’s fight against gun violence, but the bill’s future remains uncertain. It now heads to the state Senate, where despite a Democratic majority, the measure faces an uphill battle due to a potential lack of support.

The Reasons Behind the Bill

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Image Credit: United Liberty

Led by Rep. Elisabeth Epps, Democrats are throwing their weight behind House Bill 1292, a measure they believe is essential to tackling gun violence. The bill’s urgency was fueled by the horrific memories of mass shootings that have scarred Colorado, like Columbine High School in 1999, the Aurora movie theater massacre in 2012, and the more recent King Sooper’s shooting in Boulder (2021).

Making a Difference

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Image Credit: United Liberty

Rep. Jennifer Bacon highlighted the potential of the bill to make a difference, but accepted the need for a broader conversation and said, “This bill will help if we also are willing to talk about why people don’t value each other’s lives.”

The Opposition

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Image Credit: United Liberty

While Democrats largely supported the measure, Republicans vehemently opposed it, arguing that the proposed legislation infringes upon Second Amendment rights without addressing underlying issues such as mental health and socioeconomic factors contributing to gun violence.

The Concerns of the Lawmakers

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Image Credit: United Liberty

Republican lawmakers, including Congresswoman Lisa Frizell of Castle Rock, raised concerns during the lengthy debate, arguing that the bill fails to address the root causes of gun violence and instead imposes undue restrictions on law-abiding citizens.

The opposition cited the lack of evidence linking assault weapon bans to reduced crime rates and questioned the effectiveness of such measures in preventing mass shootings.

Advocates for Change

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Image Credit: United Liberty

In contrast, Democratic supporters of the bill pointed to past tragedies, including the shootings, as evidence of the urgent need for stricter gun control measures. Representative Jennifer Bacon highlighted the bill’s potential to save lives and called for a comprehensive approach to addressing the complex factors contributing to gun violence.

The Weapons Included

The Weapons Included
Image Credit: United Liberty

House Bill 1292 aims to crack down on what it defines as assault weapons which include:

  • Rifles: Semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines are a focus, especially if they have features like pistol grips, grenade launchers, or folding stocks.
  • Pistols: Similar to rifles, the bill looks at semi-automatic pistols that can accept detachable magazines and have features like a second grip, barrel shroud, or a brace that could be used like a stock.
  • Shotguns: Shotguns with folding or telescoping stocks, or large-capacity magazines, are targeted.
  • High-caliber guns: Guns firing the large .50 caliber ammunition would also be classified as assault weapons.

The Exemptions

The Exemptions
Image Credit: United Liberty

The proposed legislation includes exemptions for law enforcement officers and members of the armed forces. It also allows for the transfer of assault weapons to gunsmiths for maintenance or repair, to registered weapons dealers for disposal or temporary storage, and to heirs.

The Penalties

The Penalties
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On the House floor, changes were made to introduce a civil penalty, with violators facing a $750 fine starting in July 2025. Previously, breaking the law carried a minor penalty of up to $300 in fines and/or up to 10 days in jail, categorized as a petty offense in Colorado.

A Ban on Trigger Activators

A Ban on Trigger Activators
Image Credit: United Liberty

Plus, the legislation would outlaw rapid-fire trigger activators, which enable semi-automatic firearms to mimic the firing rate of automatic weapons. According to Giffords, ten states and the District of Columbia already have laws banning some types of semi-automatic rifles.

Senate Hurdles

Senate Hurdles
Image Credit: United Liberty

Despite the Democratic majority in the Senate, the bill faced significant hurdles in gaining enough support for passage. Senate President Steve Fenberg isn’t exactly optimistic, pointing out how difficult it’s been to pass strong gun control laws in the past at the state level. The bill’s fate hinges on securing bipartisan support in the Senate, where moderate voices may influence the final outcome.

Constitutional Concerns

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Image Credit: United Liberty

The bill, if passed by the Senate and signed by Governor Polis, is likely to be met with lawsuits from gun rights groups. Organizations like Rocky Mountain Gun Owners have a long track record of taking gun control measures to court, arguing that these measures violate the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

Share Your Thoughts

share your thought
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So what do you think? What measures do you believe are necessary to strike a balance between protecting Second Amendment rights and addressing the pressing issue of gun violence?

Mercedes Kelley
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