• April 13th, 2024
  • Saturday, 06:59:37 PM

Four Gun Violence Prevention Bills Pass Both Chambers of Legislature

A woman walks past a pile of protest signs wearing angel wings during a rally outside the Colorado Capitol to protest against gun violence in the wake of recent shootings at Denver’s East High School, whose students are referred to as “East Angels,” in Denver, March 24, 2023. Protesters who lined up to enter the Capitol were required to leave their signs outside. (Photo: Kevin Mohatt for Colorado Newsline)


By Sara Wilson


The four bills Democrats introduced as a package to curb gun violence in Colorado have now cleared both chambers of the state Legislature and are inching closer to the governor’s desk for signatures.


The House passed two bills over the weekend — one that makes it easier for victims of gun violence to sue manufacturers and another to expand the state’s extreme risk protection order law. A bill to increase the minimum age to purchase firearms cleared the House Monday and another bill to establish a three-day waiting period for firearm purchases passed the Senate Tuesday.


“We’re anxious to get these through and to the governor and ultimately see them signed into law,” House Speaker Julie McCluskie, a Dillon Democrat, told reporters Tuesday. “With 40 days left in the session, it was a significant milestone to get through the bills that we did.”


Gun violence has become a marquee issue of the session after two recent shootings at Denver’s East High School prompted multiple days of activism from students at the Capitol and as Republicans attempted to slow down progress with days of filibuster.


Differences between the bill versions passed by each chamber need to be reconciled before Gov. Jared Polis sees them.


The House, for example, amended the age limit bill to remove language that would have prohibited possession by people younger than 21 years old.


“I believe we didn’t get everything we wanted, but I believe we did get some pieces. I want to extend my gratitude to the two bill sponsors for showing me you are willing to take a minute and listen to the other side and do something about it,” Republican Rep. Ron Weinberg of Loveland said on the House floor Monday before the bill passed on third reading.


The age limit bill passed on third reading on a 40-24 vote. Six Democrats voted against it.


Over the weekend, amid Republican filibustering that prompted the House leadership to take rare action to limit debate, the House approved the bills to expand the extreme risk protection order law and let gun violence victims sue manufacturers in civil court. Those were both approved on entirely party-line votes. The ERPO, or “red flag,” law, whereby a court can remove any firearms from a potentially dangerous person, would allow district attorneys, educators and health care professionals, including mental health workers, to seek that intervention. Under the current law, only law enforcement and household members can file an ERPO petition.


The waiting period bill made it through the Senate on a 21-14 vote. Democratic Sens. Nick Hinrichsen of Pueblo and Kevin Priola of Henderson voted against it.


Democrats hold significant majorities in both chambers. That led Republican lawmakers, particularly in the House, to employ the limited number of tactics available to them to affect legislation. After debate was limited in the House on Saturday night, Republicans began requesting that bills be read in their entirety. Longer bills can take hours to read. That strategy might be disruptive to the Legislature’s limited calendar as members prepare to consider lengthy bills, including a recently introduced land use bill and the upcoming budget bill.


“While bills are being read at length, I hope that doesn’t become the norm. I think everyone recognizes that reading the bill at length is nothing but a stall tactic. That is certainly not why we were elected. We’re here to do the work of the people and wasting time on the calendar feels ineffective,” McCluskie said.


Three bills related to reproductive health care are set to come up on the House floor later this week, Majority Leader Monica Duran said. Those are likely to prompt lengthy debate from Republicans and might spur further weekend work.


“Anything’s possible. 120 days (of the legislative session) includes weekends,” Duran said.


Another bill relating to gun violence, which would ban assault weapons in Colorado, was set to have its first committee hearing Wednesday but is now delayed.


Sara Wilson is a Reporter with Colorado Newsline. This article is republished from Colorado Newsline under a Creative Commons license.