Colorado Gun Control Proposals Face Fight

by JACK HEALY, The New York Times  |  published on February 7, 2013

Democratic lawmakers in Colorado, a state haunted by two of the worst mass shootings in American history, unveiled a broad package of gun-control measures on Tuesday, but they stopped short of proposing a ban on assault rifles or any other types of firearms.

Standing with a tearful tableau of family members whose relatives were killed at Columbine High School and an Aurora movie theater, both in Colorado, and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., the lawmakers offered a preview of legislation that is likely to face fierce opposition from Republicans and skepticism from some rural Democrats in a state where hunting and sport shooting are pursuits that cross generations and partisan lines.

Colorado has emerged as a crucial stage for the battle over gun-control legislation. A national gun-control group has hired a lobbying firm here, and the president of the National Rifle Association is due to meet with Colorado’s governor this week to make his case.

Under the Democrats’ proposals, all private gun sales would be subject to background checks. Colorado now requires background checks at gun shows and retail stores, but not for private sales between individuals. The lawmakers also would limit ammunition clips to 10 rounds, banning the 30-round and 100-round magazines that a gunman used last summer in the shooting inside the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora.

And Democrats would make dealers and manufacturers of assault rifles liable for deaths or injuries caused by those guns, potentially stripping away some legal protections that have made gun makers immune from civil lawsuits brought by cities and family members of victims. That proposal could be trumped by a 2005 federal law that protects gun dealers and makers from civil actions.

Even with Democrats now in control of the governorship and both houses of the Legislature, supporters of the gun measures said a bruising political battle lay ahead. “It will be a fight,” said State Representative Rhonda Fields, a Democrat from Aurora whose son Javad was shot to death in 2005.

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