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Three Colorado gun measures in response to Boulder shooting are close to becoming law

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A series of gun measures in Colorado that were prompted by the mass shooting in Boulder in March are close to becoming law.

Democratic state lawmakers have passed three gun measures that will allow localities to regulate firearms, expand background check requirements for firearm transfers and create an “Office of Gun Violence Prevention” — sending all three bills to the desk of Colorado Democratic Gov. Jared Polis.

The measures are part of Democrats’ push for stricter gun laws to respond to a surge in gun violence in the US and in the wake of more than 200 mass shootings so far this year alone. Colorado Democrats introduced the trio of bills in late April while continuing to call for federal action.

During the last week of the legislative session, the Colorado state House on Monday gave final passage to a bill that would require licensed gun dealers to get approval from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation that a background check is complete before transferring a firearm.

The bill, House Bill 1298, requires the bureau to deny approval of a firearm transfer to a person convicted of certain misdemeanor offenses, including third-degree assault, sexual assault, child abuse or a hate crime, within the last five years.

The measure also extends the 30-day deadline to 60 days for the bureau to review and make a final decision in an appeal from an individual denied a firearms transfer following a background check.

The House had first approved the bill in May with the support one Republican, House Minority Leader Hugh McKean, who said he voted in favor of the measure by mistake. The Senate had passed the House bill on a party-line vote in late May after amending it.

The Democratic-led Colorado legislature on Thursday passed Senate Bill 256, which would repeal a state law prohibiting a local government from imposing bans on the sale, purchase or possession of a firearm. The bill would allow a local government to enact ordinances or regulations banning a firearm so long as it’s “not less restrictive” than state laws.

The House tweaked the bill last week and passed the amended version Thursday, sending it back to the Senate for final passage that day.

The legislature also gave final approval to a bill, House Bill 1299, that would create the “Office of Gun Violence Prevention” within Colorado’s Department of Public Health and Environment. The office will “coordinate and promote effective efforts to reduce gun violence and related traumas and promote research regarding causes of, and evidence-based responses to, gun violence.”

The bill passed the Senate last Tuesday by a party-line vote.

One House Democratic lawmaker, Rep. Donald Valdez, broke with his party to vote against SB 256 and HB 1299, but supported the bill that would expand firearm transfer background check requirements.

Democratic Rep. Judy Amabile, whose district includes Boulder, told CNN she believes the bills will “help with healing,” because she had heard from constituents who pushed lawmakers to act in the wake of the shooting.

Amabile, who was a sponsor of House Bill 1298, argued that if her bill had been in effect, the Boulder gunman would not have been able to purchase the firearm when he had. The suspect in the Boulder shooting was found guilty of third-degree assault in 2018, CNN previously reported. The suspect also passed a background check to purchase the weapon in Arvada, a suburb of Denver, days before the shooting.

The March 22 shooting in Boulder drew attention to an ordinance the Boulder City Council had passed in 2018 that banned the sale and possession of assault weapons and large capacity magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds. A mere 10 days before the Boulder shooting, a Colorado district judge blocked the city from enforcing its ban, saying the ordinance was invalid because state law preempts it.

If SB 256 is enacted, the city of Boulder could reinstate its assault weapons ban, Amabile said.

A separate bill passed by the legislature last Tuesday seeks to strengthen the procedures for someone subjected to a civil protection order for a domestic violence act to relinquish their firearms.

Republicans had opposed the measures, and instead urged increase funding for mental health services as a solution to gun violence.

In April, Polis signed two bills into law tightening gun regulations — one that requires gun owners to report their lost or stolen firearms within five days and another that mandates owners to “responsibly and securely” store their firearms when not in use, to prevent juveniles and other unauthorized users from accessing them.

No Republican lawmakers voted for either of those two bills.

Asked whether the governor will sign the latest round of bills, Victoria Graham, a spokesperson for Polis, said he “looks forward to reviewing the final pieces of legislation once they reach his desk.”

“Recent tragedies have made clear in the most horrific terms that there is still far too much gun violence in this state and this nation. Common sense measures to reduce gun violence are key to stopping the scourge of violence in our communities,” she said in a statement provided to CNN on Tuesday.

Meanwhile on Monday, the US Justice Department proposed to clarify the restrictions on stabilizing braces that transform a pistol into a short-barreled rifle.

The makeshift short-barreled rifle was used in the Boulder mass shooting, a Justice Department official told CNN on Monday.

This story has been updated with additional reaction.

Article Topic Follows: National Politics

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