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Gun-rights fight is on at Capitol

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By Greg Romberg

It was a sure thing that gun-control legislation would be among the highest-profile issues considered by the Colorado General Assembly in 2013. As a result of the Aurora theater shootings in July, proposals were in the works to require all gun sales to be subject to background checks and to find ways to further restrict access to guns for people with mental illnesses. After the Newtown shootings in December, additional thought was given to restrictions on sales of assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and ammunition. The stage was set for more serious debate after Gov. John Hickenlooper announced in December that he believed the issues deserved a full debate given recent events.

Perhaps the more interesting development is that gun-rights supporters in the General Assembly are not only not backing down from the fight, they have introduced a series of bills to advance gun rights.
Among the gun-rights bills introduced is House Bill 1048, the latest version of the “Make My Day Better” bill, which would give business owners the same rights that people have to shoot an intruder in their homes. But beyond that bill are several that have been introduced for the first time in 2013.
Senate Bill 62 would make businesses that restrict their customers from bringing guns into their businesses liable for injuries those customers might suffer if a shooting occurs on the premises and requires businesses to provide an armed security guard for every 50 people who are on the premises.
House Bill 1085 removes restrictions for some people who have been convicted of felonies from possessing firearms. Senate Bill 9 allows local school districts to authorize their employees who have conceal-and-carry permits to bring those guns into schools.
While it is very unlikely that any of these bills will have any chance of passage in a legislature controlled by Democrats, the fact that gun-rights legislators are playing offense on the issue shows that any thoughts people had that the tragedies in Aurora and Newtown would lessen opposition to gun-control proposals in Colorado were mistaken. It also shows that if Colorado is any indication, national proposals suggested by President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are likely to face vigorous opposition, despite any shift in public opinion caused by recent events.
It’s still a good bet that the gun-sales loophole for private sales and restriction on sales to the mentally ill will pass in Colorado this year. Other control proposals are less certain, but the existence of the various proposals from the other side makes it a certainty that the debate will be more than a little lively!

Greg Romberg is president of Romberg and Associates, a government relations and public affairs firm. He lives in Evergreen with his wife, Laurie, and three daughters.