During Governor Jared Polis's 2021 State of the State speech before the Colorado General Assembly last week, he emphasized priorities related to economic growth in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, infrastructure buildout, mental health proposals, immigration reform and more.
But four Republican legislators have focused on a different subject: guns. They're sponsoring bills that call for allowing concealed handguns to be carried on school grounds, repealing rules regarding large-capacity ammunition magazines passed in the wake of the Aurora theater shooting, making it easier for people to transfer guns without a background check, and letting anyone injured after having a weapon taken away under the state's Red Flag law sue those who had anything to do with its passage for as much as $100 million.
The bills are extraordinarily unlikely to pass, given Democratic majorities in both the state House and Senate. But they show how the Colorado GOP remains absolutely opposed to giving up the gun. Here's an overview of the bills, with links to the current versions:
"Concealed Handguns On School Grounds"
Sponsored by Representative Patrick Neville
The summary of Neville's proposal could hardly be more straightforward. It reads: "With certain exceptions, current law prohibits a concealed carry permit holder from carrying a concealed handgun on public elementary, middle, junior high, or high school grounds. The bill removes this limitation."
The text of the measure offers more about what Neville would like to remove, as opposed to adding anything. For example, the proposal would strike all of the specifics in the section of the current statute under the phrase "Authority granted by permit — carrying restrictions."
"Repeal Ammunition Magazine Prohibition"
Sponsored by Representative Ron Hanks
Hanks's offering is among the least wordy of the bills proposed during the current session. The bill would repeal statutory provisions "prohibiting the sale, transfer, or possession of certain large-capacity ammunition magazines; and requiring each large-capacity ammunition magazine manufactured in Colorado on or after July 1, 2013, to include a permanent stamp or marking indicating that the magazine was manufactured or assembled after July 1, 2013."
Also included is a "safety clause" that contends: "The general assembly hereby finds, determines, and declares that this act is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety."
"Gun Transfer Background Check Permit Exemption"
Sponsored by Representative Hugh McKean
The summary of McKean's proposal acknowledges that in most cases, "federal law requires federally licensed firearms dealers to conduct background checks of prospective transferees prior to transferring a firearm by contacting the National Instant Criminal background check System (NICS)." But the bill would make a Colorado-issued permit to carry a concealed handgun an approved substitute for such a check.
If the proposal were to pass, anyone allowed to conceal-carry in Colorado would no longer have to undergo a federal background check when transferring a weapon — although they would have to attest in writing that, since receiving their permit, they haven't "been convicted of a crime of domestic violence or been treated for a mental health condition, or is otherwise ineligible to possess a firearm pursuant to state or federal law." Because no one with these issues would lie, right?
"Civil Liability For Extreme Risk Protection Orders"
Sponsored by Representative Dan Woog
Woog's bill "creates a civil cause of action for a person who suffers injury or damages as a result of not being able to use a firearm to defend himself, herself, or his or her family as a result of a temporary extreme risk protection order or an ongoing extreme risk protection order."
The targets of such lawsuits? "Any person who drafted, proposed, promoted, or provided support, financial or otherwise, to pass, implement or enforce House Bill 19-1177," the 2019 "Extreme Risk Protection Order" act. That would presumably include Red Flag sponsor Tom Sullivan, whose son was killed in the Aurora theater shooting, plus virtually every Democratic representative or senator, plus Polis, the man who signed it into law.
Oh, yeah: Plaintiffs would be eligible for "liquidated damages of at least one hundred thousand dollars or up to one hundred million dollars if death or disability occurs."
One other important number is zero, representing the number of Democratic legislators apt to support the bill. But it's officially said to be "under consideration," as are the three proposals.
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