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HomeNewsSemiautomatic Weapons Ban Passes Colorado House, Heads to Senate

Semiautomatic Weapons Ban Passes Colorado House, Heads to Senate

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Colorado’s Democratic-controlled House passed a bill on Sunday, April 14, 2024, banning the sale and transfer of semiautomatic weapons. The move is significant for the legislation after Democrats killed the same bill in 2023. According to reports, the bill passed on a 35-27 vote.

A picture of semiautomatic weapons
Source: Pinterest

The bill, passed with a majority vote, is now going to the Democratic-led state Senate. If it passes there, it could align Colorado with ten other states, including California, New York, and Illinois. While Colorado is trying to pass the ban, those states have prohibitions on semiautomatic guns.

However, even in a state plagued by some of the nation’s worst mass shootings, such legislation faces pushback. Despite the calls for the ban, Democrats in the state have expressed concerns over the bill. Colorado’s political history is purple, shifting blue only recently. 

The bill’s chances of success in the state Senate are lower than in the House. There, Democrats have a 46-19 majority and a bigger far-left flank. Governor Jared Polis, a Democrat, has also indicated his wariness over such a ban.

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In 2023, a similar bill died in committee, with some Democratic lawmakers citing concerns over the sweep of a ban. They also cited promises they made to their constituents to avoid government overreach affecting most gun owners’ rights.

Last year, Democrats passed four less-expansive gun control bills, which Polis signed into law. They included raising the age for buying any gun from 18 to 21 and establishing a three-day waiting period between the purchase and receipt of a firearm. 

The laws also included strengthening the state’s red flag law and rolling back some legal protections for the firearms industry, exposing it to lawsuits from the victims of gun violence. They signed those laws months after five people died at an LGBTQ+ nightclub in Colorado Springs last year.

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Notably, Colorado has experienced several incidents of mass shootings. Soon, the state will mark the 25th anniversary of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting that killed 13 people.

Other mass shootings in Colorado include one where twelve people died in 2012 at an Aurora movie theater. In another, ten people were killed in 2021 at a Boulder supermarket.

“This is the state where the modern era of mass shooting began with Columbine,” Democratic Rep. Javier Mabrey said. The lawmaker urged fellow lawmakers to join other states that ban semiautomatic weapons. However, Republicans decried the legislation.

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They described it as an onerous encroachment on the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment. Republicans argued that mental illness and people who do not value life – not guns – are the issues. People with ill intent can use other weapons, such as knives, to harm others, they argued.

However, Democrats responded that semiautomatic weapons can cause much more damage in a short period. “In Aurora, the shooter walked in that theater and opened fire,” Mabrey said. “And in less than 90 seconds, shot up a room full of people.” 

Mabrey added, “That cannot be done with a knife; that can’t be done with a knife.” While it remains unclear whether the semiautomatic weapons ban will pass the Senate, the legislation seems to be gaining momentum.

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