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Bill banning assault weapons voted down in Colorado House Judiciary Committee

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Joe Mueller

(The Center Square) – A bill to ban firearms described as “assault weapons” failed to advance out of the Colorado House Judiciary Committee early Thursday after a 13-hour hearing.

House Bill 23-1230, sponsored by Rep. Elisabeth Epps, D-Denver, would have prohibited the manufacturing, importing, purchasing, or selling of an assault weapon, among other restrictions. The bill was postponed indefinitely on an 8-5 vote. Reps. Lindsey Daugherty, D-Arvada, Bob Marshall, D-Highlands Ranch, Said Sharbini, D-Thornton, Marc Snyder, D-Manitou Springs, joined the committee’s four Republicans in voting to postpone.

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“Although I know objectively - because I'm an organizer and my mama didn't raise no quitter – the work we have to do takes years,” Epps said before the vote.

Colorado House Republicans thanked hundreds of people who testified against the bill throughout the day, either in person or remotely.

“Let’s get back to actual solutions that address soft-on-crime policies, securing our schools and addressing the mental health crisis facing our state,” the House GOP posted on social media after the vote. “Unfortunately, the session is almost over and Colorado House Democrats still haven’t gotten serious about our crime problem.”

Committee Vice Chair Jennifer Bacon, D-Denver, said some rhetoric during testimony wasn’t pertinent to the bill.

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“The question that I wanted to ask was, if someone was at church or in a movie theater and we were notified that someone entered with a gun, which gun is it that we hope no one has?” Bacon asked. “Because that's what we're trying to solve for. This bill is not about a firearms ban. This bill is not denial of protecting oneself. And even through all the conversations about those with mental health issues or needs, the question is, if people want to do us harm, how do we mitigate the impact?”

Rep. Ryan Armagost, R-Berthoud, said firearms aren't the problem.

"We just have to focus on mental health," said Armagost, who told the committee he sought assistance for his mental health. "I've heard testimony tonight about how it's not going to be a one-visit thing. No, there's many ways to address mental health. Every person is different."