DENVER (AP) — A series of sweeping gun-control measures in Colorado is on track to hit the governor's desk by the end of the month, with Democratic committees in the Legislature advancing all the bills despite a Capitol packed with hundreds of opponents and surrounded by cars circling the Capitol blaring their horns.
Gun limits including expanded background checks and ammunition magazine limits were helped Monday by testimony from the husband of former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and victims of mass shootings in Connecticut and suburban Denver.
Colorado has become a focus point in the national debate over what new laws, if any, are needed to prevent gun violence after recent mass shootings, including an attack at an Aurora movie theater last summer — a massacre that brought to mind the Columbine High School shooting of 1999 for many in the state and across the nation.
The seven gun-control measures cleared their committees on 3-2 party-line votes and are planned for debate by the full Senate by Friday. Four of the seven have already cleared the House, making it possible some of them will land on the desk of Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper within weeks.
"I think they'll all pass. I really do," said Democratic Senate President John Morse. "And I think they all should pass. I think any of them failing doesn't make Colorado as safe as we could make Colorado."
A biplane flying above the Capitol Monday warned the governor, "HICK: DO NOT TAKE OUR GUNS!" Hickenlooper backs expanded background checks and has said he's considering a bill to limit ammunition magazines to 15 rounds. He hasn't indicated where he stands on other measures, including whether he supports a proposal that would hold sellers and owners of assault weapons liable for shootings by such firearms.
Gun rights supporters walked the Capitol halls wearing stickers that read, "I Vote Pro-Gun." Several dozen people outside the Capitol waved American flags as light snow fell.
Inside, retired astronaut and Navy captain Mark Kelly told lawmakers that he and his wife, Giffords, support the Second Amendment, but he said the right to bear arms shouldn't extend to criminals and the mentally ill.
Kelly compared the different background check requirements for private and retail sales with having two different lines at the airport, one with security and one without.
"Which one do you think the terrorist is going to choose?" he asked.