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Colorado Senate Committee to Kill Assault Weapon Ban in Committee



Colorado Senate Committee to Kill Assault Weapon Ban in Committee

A Colorado bill to ban the sale, transfer and production of many high-powered, semi-automatic firearms will die amid opposition in the Senate on Tuesday, a month after the measure passed a historic vote in the House of Representatives.

Sen. Julie Gonzales, the bill’s sponsor in the Senate, announced in a statement Monday that she would voluntarily set aside the bill during a committee hearing Tuesday, the penultimate day of the legislative session. The Denver Democrat said she wanted to continue conversations about policy in the coming months, “outside the pressure cooker of the Capitol during the final weeks of the legislative session.”

House Bill 1292 targeted weapons that sponsors call “assault weapons.” The bill defines the term to include high-powered, semi-automatic firearms that can accept a detachable magazine and certain other accessories, or that have a fixed, high-capacity magazine. It would also ban rapid-fire trigger activators.

The measure has advanced further in the Capitol than any previous version of the bill.

The policy’s backers presented the policy in response to the mass shootings that have plagued Colorado and other states for decades. The bill passed the House in mid-April and moved to the Senate, where it was assigned to the chamber’s State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee.

The committee has a 3-2 Democratic majority, but the likely tie-breaking vote, Democratic Sen. Tom Sullivan of Centennial, has repeatedly expressed skepticism about the policy. Sullivan, whose son, Alex, was killed in the 2012 Aurora movie theater shooting, has said he doesn’t think the ban would be as effective as other gun restrictions.

In an interview late Monday afternoon, Gonzales would not say whether she thought the legislation would die naturally, through a failed vote in committee or in the Senate. She also did not mention Sullivan, though she said she has had extensive conversations with fellow lawmakers about the bill since agreeing to sponsor it six weeks ago.

Gonzales reiterated her support for the policy.

“I actually think it was the hardest thing to do,” she said of voluntarily putting it aside. “Because I want this (expletive) to pass.”

The measure was one of several gun reform bills supported by Democrats this session. Nearly all have passed and are awaiting Governor Jared Polis’ signature.

The ban was sponsored in the House of Representatives by Denver Democratic Representatives Tim Hernández and Elisabeth Epps. Epps supported a similar policy last year, but that bill died on its first vote in committee.

On social media, Republicans and the gun rights group Rocky Mountain Gun Owners claimed victory and celebrated the bill’s defeat. The group had vowed to file a lawsuit if the bill were passed into law.